Expectant mother parking spots. It seems strange, but those four little words can stir up incredibly strong feelings in people. Long diatribes have been written both railing against the fact that they even exist and castigating “offenders” who park in those spots despite not being pregnant or having children with them.
At first, I had no particular position on the subject. However, the more I think about it, the stronger I feel. The fact is, expectant mother parking spots are a courtesy. What the heck is so wrong with being courteous? Because despite all the arguments I have heard against them so far, it still boils down to one thing: you can’t or won’t be bothered to show a little kindness to a stranger.
This seems especially odd, since our daily lives are full of little considerations we show to one another. Door is closing on the elevator? Press the “door open” button so that person you can see running towards you doesn’t have them slide shut in their face. See someone drop a toque or mitten? Pick it up and give it back to them. Have a cart crammed with a month’s worth full of groceries? Don’t push your way through the express lane. All of these things are pretty commonplace. Sure, you don’t have to do any of them, but I also do not see anyone clamoring to make it known that they will make a point not to do these things.
Is there something about pregnancy, and the parking spots put aside for pregnant women, that makes this one courtesy so different? I have heard the arguments, and I just don’t see it.
Being pregnant is not a disability. No, no it is not, and any pregnant woman who insists it is probably falls under the entitled category (see below). However, parking spots for disabled persons and expectant mother parking are not mutually exclusive. Accessible parking for people with disabilities is required by law, and nothing about expectant mother parking spots changes that.
What about those pregnant women who use the disabled parking because the expectant mother spots are full, you ask? First of all, it is not just pregnant women who do this. All sorts of able-bodied people decide to use the disabled parking spot because they cannot be bothered to park farther away. And each and every one of them, pregnant or not, deserves a whopping fine for their callousness.
But let’s be clear, it is not the expectant mother parking, or lack thereof, that makes them act that way. Even if there were no such thing as expectant mother parking spots, the jerks who improperly park in disabled spots would still do it if there were no other spots close to the store. It is their inconsiderate jerkiness, not pregnancy, which makes them….well, jerks.
But pregnant women can be so entitled. Indeed some can be. So can teenagers, toddlers, celebrities, and just about everyone else. If you are unlucky enough to be surrounded by entitled people all your life, I feel for you. That does not justify purposely parking in an expectant mother spot just to make some kind of point. You don’t have the first clue about the pregnant lady, whom you have never met, who would have used that spot but for you. In fact, you seem to be so caught up in your own worldview, that whoever she may be is of no importance compared to your own need to make a point.
If you want to be that person, you can be. However, I want no part of it.
There was no expectant mother parking when I was pregnant, and I managed. So just because you were not offered the choice, no one else can be? Up until 50 or 60 years ago, epidurals were not routinely available, and stylish maternity clothes were nothing more than a pipe dream. Some women managed perfectly fine without them, but damn if it isn’t good to have the option now.
Expectant mother parking spots are pretty fluid territory. They are not legally recognized, nor can rules about them be enforced, at least where I live. Many pregnant women choose not to use them (I know I didn’t park in them on the days when I was feeling sprightly). But somebody – either an associated store or the parking lot management – has politely asked you to leave those spots vacant for someone. Is it really so hard to do that?
Not to sound too much like a Hallmark card, but every one of us is making our way through this world together. And quite frankly, there are a lot of ways in which this life can be a hard struggle. We all learn to suffer. But you know what can make it just that little bit easier? Showing a bit of compassion or, at the very least, courtesy for one another.
(photo: Getty Images)