I started commuting with my 2 month old daughter yesterday.
I'd been agonizing over the commute for months, after we found an affordable and awesome daycare provider near my work. How am I going to get to work with her stuff and my stuff--all without being "that stroller asshole"? Ugh. The stupid stroller wars.
My bus is one of those crowded and popular rush-hour bus routes to an area that's not well served by alternative modes of public transit. If I did try to bring a stroller, I'd have to juggle her and my purse and her diaper bag and my lunch while folding up the stroller all the time, and I was afraid that she'd get hurt in the process. Especially if the driver keeps on driving and the bus lurches around. Would people even be considerate enough to help me? That's even with a small sturdy umbrella stroller that's rated for infants. I can't do the even smaller ones because she's too little yet for that.
But if I carried her, I'd have to carry everything else too. Could I hurt her accidentally if I did that? I'd probably hurt my back if I did.
It made me wonder: what would happen if a doctor told me I had to use a stroller for medical reasons? Would bus drivers and other riders believe that?
Round and round the worries went in my head as I tried to figure out what would be safe for my daughter, for me, AND not piss off my fellow commuters. It's like, when you're pregnant people are quite considerate of your needs, but once the baby is out of you, whoops, no more assistance.
No doubt you saw this petition by now, signed by parents who want strollers to be the equivalent of wheelchairs. They make great points. It IS a pain in the butt to remove the diaper bag and baby from a stroller and stow everything and sit with the child--especially if you're traveling by yourself. I really wish there were more space on the buses and trains for strollers.
But there's not. And there's potentially service cuts coming if Rauner has his way, which would make things even more crowded. (Eff that shit.)
So it's all the more important to make sure the elderly and disabled can safely ride the CTA. Strollers are not and should not be the equivalent of a wheelchair in terms of seating priority. As much as I wish I could support that petition, I refuse to sign it because in all honesty, the CTA policy is still correct: wheelchairs/disabilities > elderly people > strollers.
Still, that leaves me up a creek in regards to a painless commute. Right now, I wear her in a sling, carry a diaper bag and purse crisscrossed in such way that I don't think will hurt her (but has the choking effect on my throat), and occasionally, a backpack if I need to cart more than just a PBJ for lunch. And when I board the bus, I put all of these in the wheel well area, and if I can, I sit right next to it so I can access the diaper bag safely as needed.
Yes, it's difficult. I wish it could be another way. I sometimes wish I could afford a car and a parking space at home and at work. But until she's old enough for me to safely fold a stroller, or until she's old enough to walk and I will need to carry less stuff to and from daycare, this is how I will be avoiding the damned stroller wars. I just ask kindness and consideration in return--let me sit next to the wheel well if at all possible, and please don't drive the bus until I'm safely seated (or at least, drive smoothly.)
And to the other parents...well, I don't blame you for wanting to use the stroller. It's just that folding it DOES "make everyone's ride smoother and safer."
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