Room for Two

May 28, 2009

It finally happened.  Something I’ve been afraid of for many years did indeed happen to me and I write this blog entry knowing I may be throwing my reputation down the toilet.  

I am a person who respects rules;  I am a considerate person.  I would NEVER park in a handicapped parking space.    Even when I had surgery on both of my feet at the same time, and had a temporary handicapped parking sticker I didn’t park there.  I could just see someone in a wheelchair needing that space more than me.

But when I had Riley, I started using the handicapped stalls in the ladies room.   This was different than the parking spaces, I reasoned.  They aren’t ONLY for people with handicaps.  When there’s a long line, women go into whichever stall comes open first, and lugging around a little girl and all the stuff that goes along with her took up too much room for a “regular-size” stall.   You can’t just leave a little girl out there by herself, now, can you?   And yet, it always crossed my mind: how would I feel if someone came into the ladies room in a wheelchair and I was occupying the only stall they could use.   “We need room for two” I told myself, and so Riley and I have made ourselves comfortable in what we call the “big” stall in public restrooms. 

Habits die hard I guess and at a restaurant recently, I went into a ladies room with only two stalls: one “regular” and one “big.”   After 8 1/2 years of going into bathrooms that could accommodate both me and Riley, I chose the “big” stall even though I was alone.  That’s when it happened:  a lady in a wheelchair came into the restroom and had to wait for me before she could use the facilities.   I saw the wheels under the door and my heart sank.  Why hadn’t I gone into the “regular” stall?   I came out quickly, smiled at her apologetically and said “Sorry–I usually need room for two.”  She gave me a pleasant but confused smile and I quickly explained “My almost-9 year old daughter is usually with me.”  

That’s when she laughed.  She told me she had also used the “big” stalls when she was toting her own children around and in a way it made it more comfortable for her to use them when she got MS and had to start using the chair.   I thanked her for letting me off the hook; and I promise not to use the “big” stall  anymore…unless I need room for two.



  1. Hi! I just started following your blog, and while I’ve enjoyed all of your posts to date, I had to comment on this one. 🙂

    I’ve been disabled my entire life, and have had the good fortune to work as an advocate for disability awareness with several organizations. Thus, I have had the opportunity to interact with a good number of disabled people. You need not feel badly for using the “big stall.” Most of us realize that it’s unrealistic to expect a stall to remain open 24-7 just in case one of us needs it. Kudos to you, though, for your public admission, and apology. You’ve got class, Chrys.

    P.S. Not sure if it’s synchronicity or what, but my blog post last week was a “rant” on common problems encountered in handicapped-accessible restrooms. I somehow managed to miss “people with children” though. LOL!

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words! I will look forward to reading your blog as well!

  3. I actually understand. My two children are 12 and 11. I started using the handicapped stoles at McDonald’s during my three day trip to GA fm CT. The kids were 18 and 6 months respectively. My father was ill and requested I come home. It was the last family photo I had with him. Old habits are hard to break. You’re a very nice person and daily bring positive insights to the city of Toledo. Have a great day. I will try to stop too.

  4. Chyrs,

    Your honesty and integrity are very much appreciated. When my son was young, I also used the big stall. I always felt weird taking him into the ladies room, but what other choice do moms have?

    Perhaps this will trigger a new type of ‘family stall’? Just a thought…..

  5. Great post Chrys. Really enjoying reading your blog! Keep ’em coming.

  6. I don’t think yuu would have felt any better if you came out of the stall with Riley. Some places have family restrooms to be used for Mom’s with children. My momma was in a wheelchair and when we had to wait for someone who could actually use another open stall it was very irritating. Handicapp access whether it be parking or toilets are to be repected and not misused

  7. Chrys:

    Hello how are you?
    Just to let you know we have all been in that situation one time or another in our lives. I have a eight year old grandson who I will take in the large restroom as well, with our society the way it is today one can not trust to leave a child in a restroom by them selves so I result in taking him with me, So don’t feel bad

  8. Being able to accommodate handicapped people does not necessarily mean that they should not have to wait for things like bathroom stalls, shuttles, or subways.
    It is kind of you to believe that because she has some form disability she shouldn’t have to wait for a bathroom stall, but this thinking is unfounded. Do you ever wait for a stall at the restroom? Well, why shouldn’t they then? This is part of being human and living in society. I have had men come out of the stall with their little girls before. Should I say to them “you should use the female bathroom so this stall is not occupied?” No, I wouldn’t because waiting is part of life in public, and it becomes no different for someone who is waiting to use a handicapped stall.

    Granted, public buildings, etc. should make every opportunity to make their premises handicapped acceptable, etc., but being handicapped in society does not warrant you the ability to not go through things that all others in public do.

  9. Chrys,
    I and thousands of other handicapped people I am sure will forgive you. After all try and change a child in a space the size of a teacup. Besides most changing stations are located in the Handicaped stalls.
    It took my Cher until she was 12 before she learned big stalls are for people that have a problem walking, and I am sure Riley will learn, after all she has a darn good teacher as a mother.

  10. My daughter is now 5 and insists I wait outside the stall for her and stand guard. She needs to see my feel though and she usually makes me talk to her the entire time to prove I am still there. We, too, used the handicapped stall and my daughter thought it was big so that she had somewhere to park her bike in case she had it with her. Go figure. I was recently in a public bathroom with a woman in a wheelchair that did not fit in the handicapped stall. I helped her daughter lift her from the chair and into the stall and then waited around to help them get her back to the chair. We moms may take advantage of the handicapped stall for our little ones but we also help those in need when necessary.

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