Sometimes I feel I'm being punished for daring to have children

Sun (4), Eva Luna (2), and Kira Satya (12 weeks).
Sun (4), Eva Luna (2), and Kira Satya (12 weeks), in the stroller yesterday while we took a snack break, walking to the playground.

Here is a snippet from my journal entry from yesterday. Just a moment of frustration I’d like to share.

After walking up a hill from Totland playground for 75 minutes, I get to the 65 AC Transit bus stop with my stroller [, at Cragmont and Euclid]. My 2 preschoolers are in the double stroller and I have my 2 month old attached to me in the ergo carrier. The bus pulls up 3 minutes later, the door opens, 7 people exit from the bus. The driver looks at me and the stroller and says, “I don’t have room for you. Sorry,” then closes the door and drives away. Am just amazed that the people sitting where the stroller would go can’t move they asses and make room for me and my kids. Yea, the bus had a lot of people in it, but room COULD HAVE BEEN MADE. I would have and do make room for similar situations. But no, just sit on your asses and stare at us from out of the window; don’t stick up for me or tell the bus driver that some of you can MAKE ROOM. Oh Berkeley, if not here, then where?

Once again, feeling punished for daring to have children. 

The next bus wouldn’t come for another 35 minutes. I think that the bus could have fit us. It was not packed; especially since about 7 people had exited the bus. I am sure the bus driver isn’t a horrible or bad person, but I’m wondering how or why this can happen. Maybe he was just having a bad day? Perhaps he felt stressed and needed to ‘be on schedule.’ I jsut don’t know.

In terms of the folk who just ‘stare’ when they could be doing something to remedy a problem….Berkeley is supposed to be this progressive and social-justice oriented region of the USA, but there are many moments like these in which I feel like something is amiss. I have had several challenges with taking public transportation while with my children who were in our double stroller.

Does anyone else have experiences like this with public transportation, or is it really just me?

17 thoughts on “Sometimes I feel I'm being punished for daring to have children

  1. Hi Breeze. Sorry about your experience. I have four kids, and had them all in 3 years (set of twins in the middle) and I remember when they were little how hard it was here in DC to get around on foot or public transportation. It seemed like people would help me out when I had one child, but when I suddenly had 4, I was avoided. Almost like people didn’t know what to do, so they just didn’t. Its seems clear to me that we are not meant to raise children with just one caregiver. My sister (who lived far away) and I would often talk about how easy it would be if we lived together and could share the process of raising kids…. xo annie.

  2. i am a frequent traveller by way of public transportation, and believe me, i have seen this too many times…i do comment and get glares/snide remarks from the bus operator and/or passengers who also seem to hold a grudge against women with children…and what’s worse is that the bus models are becoming smaller and smaller making it even more difficult to assist women with large strollers…i’ve even seen drivers refuse to pick up wheelchair bound passengers!
    not always is it their attitude, but on many occasions attitude seems to be the prevailing factor (and i can’t even begin to get into that psychology).
    a friend who drives for the bus system in santa clara county once told me that when the passengers get on her nerves, she would blast the heat (in hot weather) and the air conditioner (in cold weather), and would ignore their complaints…yeah, some of them have serious attitude problems and i wonder why on earth would they take a position working with the public if this is how they’re gonna act.
    i hope you have more pleasant experiences from here on out.

  3. I’ve had bad experiences here in New Zealand but it’s been with fellow passengers., and most of the time the drivers and other passengers just sit there watching.
    I remember a time when I tried to get on a bus with my son in a buggy. There was an elderly man sitting in one of the spaces reserved for wheelchair users and parents with buggies/prams/strollers and he had his walking frame in the only other area on the bus where a stroller could go. The bus driver asked him to move for me, but he called back out to her that I can’t get on the bus because there is no room! The driver responded that she is the driver of the bus and that it’s her bus and that he has to do as she says, but he still refused. I looked out the window and saw that another bus that I could catch was about to pull in behind, so I told the driver that I would get off and get that one. As I was getting off the original bus, I was told by some people waiting for another bus at the stop that some passengers in the bus actually went and physically removed the elderly man that was refusing to budge from the seat.
    Another experience I’ve had was when I was getting off a bus and someone wanting to get on, got on the bus without waiting to see if anyone was getting off first. The driver told her to get off and wait so I could get off the bus with my stroller. I wasn’t at fault, but for some reason I felt obliged to apologise to her, probably because I felt it was polite to do so. She responded with “yeah, well, you shouldn’t have a baby on the bus in the first place”. Well, for one, my son wasn’t a baby, he was a toddler, and what’s the problem with having a baby on the bus, anyway? Plus, what I found really bizarre about her reaction, she had a child with her! (Not in a stroller, though).
    I don’t know if anyone else has experienced something like this, but I found catching the bus whilst pregnant was a nightmare, especially when there were teenage girls on the bus. Maybe it’s a NZ thing, but the girls seem to think that their teeny, tiny little clutch bags deserved a seat all for themselves. None of them would ever make room for me when buses where crowded, even though I was heavily pregnant, and at times, close to collapse during a hot summer day. One, when I asked if I could have the seat, even said to me that I shouldn’t expect special privileges because I was fat. I told her that I wasn’t fat, that I am pregnant, and she replied “same thing”. And no, she didn’t end up moving her bag for me. In case you’re wondering, the bag was on the seat next to the window, so I couldn’t have just sat on it. It would have required climbing over her to sit down, something that’s hard enough to do when you aren’t pregnant.

  4. I had many issues with public transport in Launceston (Tas, Australia). As a mother who doesnt have a drivers license life is very difficult. They used old buses in Launceston so there was literally no room for a pram (or a wheelchair, etc) I had to wait at the busstop by a busy road, before the bus arrived id have to take the kids out of the stroller/pram, fold up the pram and hold onto it along with the nappy bag and my handbag and 3 children (one baby, one toddler, one school aged child). Then when the bus arrived id have to get onboard and somehow pay for our tickets whilst holding all this stuff then make my way to the raised luggage platform in the middle of the bus, lift the folded pram onit and then seat my children. Have you ever tried to carry and pram and a baby at the same time, not easy. The bus driver would just stare as would other passengers most of the time. Im preyyt sure ive been told to hurry up a couple of times and also a couple of times i accidently bumped other passengers while carring everything down the centre isle. I always felt it was a risk to my childrens safety having to have the pram ready to board, so they were running free by the road while I am folding the pram.

    I love buses where I live now in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. They are all wheelchair friendly and as such are also pram friendly. I can wheel the pram on board and leave my kids in it for the trip. I park it in one of the 2 wheelchair spaces which I must vacate the space for elderly, disable or pregnant women. I am prepared to do that but so far the need has not arisen.

    The only problem I really have is I still get told to hurry up sometimes because my now 5 yr old boy is a bot spirited on the bus and it sometimes takes me a minute to get him calm and seated. But I guess they do have a schedule to keep so don’t think I can be too mad about that.

    1. Well, maybe, Breeze has a different opinion…I mean she did earn her Ph.D., and had a slew of other admirable accomplishments while making and birthing the three babies she has shared with us all.

      Amy Glass, that author, is right–she’s rational and logical, therefore I think she makes great sense, from her perspective. There are people who look at Amy’s decisions (I’m making assumptions here based on the article) to not have kids or get married and instead work on building a career and making money or whatever she’s doing. Some people will look up that those decisions and others will look down up her decisions.

      Just as well, some people will look at Breeze’s decisions (at least as much as she’s shared here) and believe she’s made fantastic superwoman type decisions and others will look at her sacrificing her social standing, her children, or see her as being selfish…I mean, the list can go on forever despite the opinions of the individual uninvolved with the other persons life decisions they have an opinion about.

      Maybe Amy saw her mother’s life not turn out so well in some way. So Amy, being smart, decided to make a different set of decisions using her resources, whatever they may be, to make her life, as she sees it, turn out best for her. Her decision may be ignorant, say for you, or for some journalist on TV getting ratings, but not for Amy.

      Or, or, maybe Amy is bull-shiting her way to internet fame. Maybe Amy is a man. Maybe I’m Amy. I doesn’t much matter what others believe.

      Women, and men, should stop looking for the validation that comes from the beliefs of others, and be bold enough to make their own decisions to live their life as they choose to. I’d venture to say that is what Breeze has done, maybe, and what Amy has done, maybe, and that is good for the both of them, maybe. Who knows? Who knows, except for Breeze, except for Amy, except for you and expect for me, and only so in the context of our own lives.

      1. Frank, you’re comments are brilliant 😉 I totally agree that none of us should need validation for what we believe works best for our lives. Thanks again for commenting.

        Generally, I don’t feel like I have to defend my choice to have children to other bloggers (or anyone) and steer away from getting involved in those arguments. I think having children or nor having children are both fine decisions, depending what one wants in life and how it works out.

        Yea, you never know who is really typing on the other end either. 😉

      2. I think Amy’s article is interesting, as I used to think that mothering or dedicating one’s life to raising children was STUPID and WASTEFUL… but I am a dynamic person and how I thought 15 years ago isn’t how I think now about mothering as well as many other things. Frank is right to suggest that one doesn’t know much about Amy (is she really exists) and why she feels the way she does. However, mothering is not for everyone, or many of us who have never done it have preconceived notions about what it’s supposed to be about (oppressive, anti-feminist, etc), and some of us are fine with the idea before and after becoming mothers. However, the article didn’t bother or irritate me. She’s speaking her opinion and that’s fine. If she wants to judge or attack others for making the choice to choose motherhood, then that is something her mind/spirit is really in conflict with. Oh well. her mess to work out.

    2. Thanks for sharing that article Emily. I found it really interesting. I’m an African American woman and I grew up in poverty. I did however get a full scholarship to college and earned a BA in Political Science Pre-law, then moved to Paris and earned a MA in International Relations and Diplomacy, then moved to England and earned an MBA in International Business. I’ve been running my own small company for 5 years now, quite successfully for 3. In that time, I got married and had 2 daughters. Naomi is 21 months old and Sophie is 8 months old. Before I had Naomi, I assumed that I would spend 6 – 9 months on maternity leave then put Naomi in daycare and happily trot back to building an empire. However, for me, after meeting her, I just didn’t want to leave her. Luckily my husband Pete earns enough for me not to have to go back to work. This is the same support that I needed when I first started my consultancy and finishing my MBA when we were still dating.

      Having a husband can be a wonderful asset to help you accomplish all of your dreams whatever they may be. It’s strange that the article judges getting married and having children seemingly equally. I wonder if someone just married young or just had children without getting married if either of those situations would be better.

      I’ve had the comment that raising my children is a waste of my education. I have to disagree. Raising my children well is as much for your benefit as it is for theirs and mine. There are only a few years that children need your constant and undivided attention. Choosing to be an integral part of my children’s lives is a personal choice. Finishing school before I had children was a deliberate decision. Luckily, I was able to change my business model to fit it around staying at home. I’m a stay at home business mom. Yes, for the last two years, most of my days have been filled with breastfeeding and changing diapers. There have been a lot of amazing moments in there too. I would never have become a vegan if I didn’t have Naomi. I was researching the best foods to wean her on, when I came across a couple of vegan books that completely changed my perspective on the subject. To be honest, I had never given it much thought until then.

      I mentioned my background earlier because I am now 31 years old. I have cousins that are a bit older than me who started having children young. Some are even grandparents now. It’s still boggling my mind. But if you have your first child at 16 and they have their first at 18… The point is, a lot of my cousins who had children early, raised their children, worked, went to school, have university degrees and now better jobs. In fact, one thing that I can agree with in Amy’s article, is that having children is common. It shouldn’t be a hindrance to stop you from doing what you really want to do. And if that happens to be raising your children well. Perfect.

      And as a side note, managing a household successfully is hard work. While I love spending time with my children and I love cooking, I’ve come to the conclusion that my time is better spent on other things besides cleaning and laundry. So now we have someone who comes twice a week to do that. Her monthly fee is roughly what I used to pay to commute into the office everyday. Or a couple of decent meals out. I’d rather have a cleaner.

      For the record, I by no means have it all figured out, but it is clear that articles like Amy’s are very black and white. There are so many other solutions that work for people. I’d love to live nearer to family who could help with the children so that I could invest more time in my company. I have a list of priorities. My children are at the top. For me, that means spending as much time with them as possible. If I were in a different economical situation, it would certainly be putting food on the table by any means necessary.

      Finally, at the risk of being completely hypocritical, I had the same frustration that Amy has for young married women with children for my young unmarried cousin on welfare. After having her first child at 18, she immediately went on welfare and got a government house, food stamps and an allowance to help pay bills. Family members kept commenting on how well she was doing. Ten years, two children and a husband later, she’s living with our grandfather until she can find another place and hasn’t really done much of anything. Everyone’s different. Perhaps instead of being angry, Amy can invest some time in helping young married mothers who are unhappy in their situations. I’d love to help my cousin, but she doesn’t want it.

  5. To be honest, you should not have let that happened. You should have gotten on the bus and peacefully, intelligently, called the driver out for their bullshit by seeing if a seating arrangement could work. If it couldn’t work, then that’s okay but you have to stand up to stupidity or it will become pervasive. Maybe that is easier for me to say or do because I’m a big dude, I don’t really know how to keep my mouth shut, and I am not swayed by any type of authoritative veil…I don’t know.

    There has been a decline of public courtesy in the U.S.A. towards all people. I don’t think it has anything in particular to do with you having children. You could have had 25 bags of groceries and the lazy inconsiderate bus driver would likely have acted the same.

    I am particularly concerned with the lack of courtesy towards women, women with children, the elderly and the disabled–I’m extraordinarily pissed off by what I see happening. I have strong, very aggressive, opinions towards people who act in the way you experienced, but I won’t share that here, because sometimes I think my kind of reactions/opinions don’t contribute to what you have going on in your blog.

    I will say that it is not just you. I’ve seen this kind of behavior across the board while I rode public transportation for nearly 15 years straight–I’ve seen it in Berkeley, I’ve seen it in San Francisco, Oakland, and elsewhere. I once convinced the person next to me ride standing up, and then we had two other passengers take our seats so a person with a wheelchair could get on the bus. The bus driver initially told the disabled person they would have to wait for another bus…F* that.

    1. Frank, I wasn’t comfortable or in the mood and couldn’t really get on the bus since I’d have to leave my kids and stroller outside. I am contacting AC Transit via email and phone, tomorrow though, after calming down about it and taking my time to think about what to say. Thanks for your response.:-)

      1. I admire your careful consideration for what may be necessary to say or do–a quality I lack and a quality I hope to gain when, or before, I become a parent.

  6. Sorry you had that bad experience with public transportation, Breeze. But, I’m not sure you were being punished for daring to have children. As a veteran bus rider for several decades, I’ve often seen bus drivers and riders help mothers struggling on the bus. Many times I, myself, have given up my seat and helped mothers with young children on the bus. I’ve never seen bus drivers pass up someone with a stroller. But, I have seen drivers pass up someone with a wheelchair because there were already two wheelchairs onboard. Maybe, the problem is allocation of a scarce resource-space-which can be a safety issue. I’ve tripped over strollers (and walkers and shopping carts and wheelchairs) on the bus. Maybe, that driver made a judgement call about how a double stroller could be accommodated safely on his bus. As opposed to buses, light rail fits all of the public’s diverse needs. On our county’s light rail system there’s room for all: wheelchairs, strollers, shopping carts, etc. I don’t think our car-centric society punishes mothers. Our society punishes transit-dependent people. There’s a perception that only poor people use public transportation. Wrong! I know people with six-figure bank accounts who prefer using public transportation. Maybe, attitudes will change when gas becomes so high that public transportation attracts every strata of society.

    1. When I wrote that our society punishes transit-dependent people, I meant to explain that few communities have a good transit system that will accommodate everybody. Good light-rail systems where people with wheelchairs, strollers, etc. can ride with impunity are rare in this country. Where I’m located, L.A. County, there used to be a first-class light rail system that would take you from one end of the county to the other. That system was dismantled when the interstate highways were built. L.A. County is just now trying to rebuild what we once had, but getting the necessary public funds is like pulling teeth. Gas is cheap here, compared to prices abroad. That means disrespect for those of us who regularly use public transportation. But, as I said, attitudes will change when gas prices are double-digit.

  7. It’s part of the greater problem in this country: private industry, especially the, ahem, auto sector since the 1950s, won out. I’m also a public transportation user (I don’t even have a driver’s license) and, while acknowledging that the CA Bay Area is exceptionally well off compared to other parts of the country in terms of public transportation (a sad statement to make, actually), there are huge, huge issues and gaps. I see young parents, especially Moms, struggling with the strollers, multiple kids, etc. and see a need for public transportation to focus on “family” riders just as it has sought to accommodate disabled folks and bike riders. Much work remains to be done….

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