Home > City mama, motherhood > Moms, bums, and wheelchairs

Moms, bums, and wheelchairs

Until recently, I carried The Child in a sling. I loved my sling. It was the one thing that I got religious about. Not obnoxiously religious, but I really loved it. It was easy, she could see and be seen, I never had to wrestle with doors, I had both my hands free, and I could take the subway like a normal person.

Then she hit 25 lbs. And my back screamed mercy.

Reluctantly, I switched to a stroller. I like my stroller — it’s been good to me — a big, knobbly-tired thing with plenty of cargo space and four cup holders (how disgustingly yuppie is that?) and saddlebags. But it’s a stroller. Suddenly, I need help if it’s snowing to get over berms. I can manage most doors by myself but some of the airlocks are simply impossible without assistance.

And taking the subway means taking the elevator.

As I waited in line for the (dinky, urine-soaked, graffiti-ed) elevator yesterday, I looked at the folks I was in line with. A bag lady of the muttering-and-swatting-at-flies-that-don’t-exist type, with her shopping cart of detritus. A guy in a wheelchair, drawing on a bottle in a brown paper bag. And another mom.

I gently edged away from the bag lady (it was warm, she was odoriferous) and the mom caught my movement and rolled her eyes, with a conspiratorial smile towards me. I smiled back with sympathy. Just two normal moms trying to get by, I thought, surrounded by the marginalized members of society.

And then it hit me. I’ve been marginalized!

Most “real” people buzzed around our little queue without looking at us. They mentally lumped me and the other mom in with the homeless, the crazy, the handicapped, that guy who stands at the corner and wails into a pencil and expects to be thrown a few bucks for it.

I have to admit, I’m a healthy woman who loves to walk and never really thought about being handicapped before. But suddenly I feel huge welling of sympathy for them. Not quite the same sympathy as I feel for myself, but that’s a pity party I won’t invite you to. But I know that my marginalization is temporary. Already The Child can make longish treks on her own — she’d walk everywhere if I let her. Once I know she won’t wrench her hand away from mine and dash into traffic, I’ll probably ditch the stroller and resume being a real person. Albeit one with a kid. But those people in wheelchairs probably never will.

There’s a whole thing here about how motherhood reduces you to being a less of a person in society’s eyes. But it’s obvious so Iwon’t belabor the point. Instead I’ll just say that I’m suddenly much more interested in a backpack carrier and I’m going to be lobbying for working elevators as long as I live in The City.

Categories: City mama, motherhood
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