“When I found out I was going to become a father at the age of 21 years old, I was constantly given advice. It usually centered around priorities with my future as a father, advice on how to navigate a co-parenting environment, I even remember my boss at work taking me aside and giving me advice about how to date as a single dad. All of these conversations were necessary and appreciated, but why didn’t anyone tell me about the lack of resources for fathers?! No one warned me about the mundane things that would challenge my life as a young father.
It’s all funny now because I absolutely recognize the blessing of being able to go through those years, alone. I remember how helpless I felt in court when I realized that being a good father with a good job was not going to immediately grant me all of my desired custody arrangements, etc. It actually felt like it was the opposite of that. My daughter is 16 now and we are incredibly close, and I have a great relationship with my daughter’s mom. Ironically, she is one of my wife’s best friends and it’s a great feeling.
Some of the hardest parts about parenting at that time are standard issue. I had to sell my car because it was a 2-door and I needed something that would fit that huge clunky snap-in baby seat. I remember not getting Scotchgard for my couches and my daughter’s ability to completely cover them because I didn’t burp her properly. I also remember taking her out in public. That’s where I truly feel like I earned my stripes as a father. I would leave the house with more than enough supplies and had no problem taking her places. Savannah was a very fun baby and loved being out. Never a meltdown. Always a great co-pilot. But, changing diapers SUCKED in public. It was always a guessing game. Where can I change her? Is my car parked close enough to take her out there? Did I bring a good enough blanket to lay her down on? Will I have a sink to wash my hands after a positive result poop check? This was EVERY TIME we were out. I used to joke that I may not know how to operate one of those fancy changing tables because I had never really seen one I could use, anywhere.
Fast forward to July 2018. My daughter Savannah is now 16 and driving me all over the place. It’s crazy. In 2 short years, she’ll be off to college. Last month, a story on Facebook went viral about a dad who was changing his daughter on a dirty tile floor in a public restroom. He was begging for restaurants to install more baby changing tables in the men’s room, sounding the alarm that there is a real need for them being accessible to fathers. I was taken right back to 2002. I thought YES! That was the worst! I have done that many times! It’s been a while, but it feels like yesterday!
That week I pulled my radio team together at work and told them I wanted to try to install 1 new baby changing table, in a men’s restroom, every day of September. I took workdays into account, so the goal was 20. We did our research, found tables for just under $200, and secured installation from the Local Carpenters 619 Union. The next step was to get on the air and pitch this to my listening audience on Star 94.1 FM in San Diego. We told the story about the father in the viral photo and I was able to share my similar experiences. I guess it’s something many of us had already given some thought, because we got calls immediately from people willing to donate money for tables while sharing their stories as well.
So here we are with about 10 tables paid for thanks to amazing donors, and we feel like our goal of 20 changing tables installed was probably a little modest. We would love to start a real game plan here to help fathers just like me who love taking their babies out to see the world! They need it! Also, when dad takes the kids, mom can have some peace of mind knowing she can enjoy some time and he can enjoy those much-needed resources, IN THE MEN’S ROOM.
Let’s make Changing happen!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jesse Lozano, host of Jesse Lozano in the Morning on Star 94.1 in San Diego, California. Do you have a similar experience and would to share your journey? Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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