Where’s the family restroom?

Happy New Year y’all!


Bosco and Betty celebrating in London. (Photo credit: S. Freed)

Another busy holiday season. Although I didn’t check off a list, I’m sure I served people from every country in the world, and whether they came from Dubai or Norway or Korea or Russia they all spoke “a leetle” English, and asked me the same questions

  • Where’s the restroom?
  • Is the photography upstairs?
  • Where can I get a cup of coffee?

I hesitated for a moment when a woman asked me for directions to the family restroom, as its difficult to find tucked away at the back of one of the galleries, and I wanted to give her easy-to-follow directions.

“It’s for my daughter. She needs to feed the baby,”  she said pointing behind her.

I don’t know why she thought I needed an explanation. Though the family restroom is a quiet place, specially designated for women to feed their babies in private, anyone can use it.

I can’t wait to become a Granny [!]  and I love babies, so of course I looked behind her to see the baby.    There was only one person behind her, a small, skinny girl, who couldn’t have been more than twelve years old – okay thirteen at the most – carrying a baby in a baby carrier on her little chest.

I hope I managed to wipe the shock and any judgement off my face. I congratulated the young mother, made suitable cooing sounds to the baby who was really cute, and taking out a map of the museum I showed them exactly where they had to go, then watched them walk off in the wrong direction.

I don’t know why this woman told me, a stranger behind a cash register in a museum, that it was her teenage daughter who needed to feed the baby. I had a strong feeling she needed to sit down and tell someone the story. My guess is that the father of the baby was not a teenage boy…

My heart breaks for both of them. If that poor little girl was my daughter I would have given up that baby for adoption.

I look forward to reading your thoughts …

About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
This entry was posted in Families don't you love them, Museum Musings, Photography, Wondering and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Where’s the family restroom?

  1. Larooby says:

    I wonder what made you think that the father of the baby was not a teenager? What demographic was she? Either way, that young girl has had her youth taken from her and her life changed forever, withdrawn from the community of her peers. She has no choice but do the best that she (and her mother or parents and family) are able in a climate of decimated resources of state care and support, so painfully evident in California today. Unless her parents can afford to replace the array of dedicated social, medical and legal services she and the baby will need, she’ll most likely be dependent on a church organization and the quid pro quo for the charity. And this would be the best of the awful possible scenarios facing someone in her position… the mental health of mother and child is at stake.

    • dearrosie says:

      You raise many good points Larooby. There’s no simple answer to whether and how long the government is expected to support a teenage mother and her kid(s) and especially these days of decimated resources of state care when so many people are struggling to find jobs and living in their cars, I’d hope that there are outreach church organizations that don’t just campaign against a woman getting an abortion but help a mother support the child she gives birth to.

      Why did I think the father of the baby wasn’t a kid? Just a gut feeling – the “grandmother” looked worn out and haggard.

      They were white. Did you assume they were African American?

      It was so interesting that they’d chosen to come to an art museum. Our museum is not across the road from the train station or near something else. Anyone who comes there has had to plan a special trip.

  2. I’m not sure what I would do — I’m so grateful I haven’t had to face that issue. I’m so desperate for grandchildren (but not so desperate that I want any grandbabies unless their parents are REALLY ready to have them) — that I like to think that maybe I’d raise the baby myself, but having just witnessed a mother-son reunion, 30 years after adoption — I guess I also have to say whatever decisions are made, hopefully it turns out for the best for the child. Thought-provoking post, Rosie — and btw, I’m honored to share my name with the champagne-swilling New Year’s PUG!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hah hah I’m glad you’re honored to share your name with a pug. She is really cute. I met her last time we were in London.

      I cannot imagine what an emotional experience it must’ve been for you to witness a mother-son reunion 30 years after adoption. Wow.

      I know some families keep the baby and raise it as the mother’s sibling and sometimes the baby doesn’t find out the truth that her so-called sister is really her mother.

  3. sybil says:

    Not sure what to think Rosie. So much here we don’t know. Sigh …

  4. magsx2 says:

    Believe it or not here in Oz you get paid to have a baby $5,000, so as you can imagine there are a few teenagers that have kids just for the money.

    It is always sad to see very young mothers, and I always wonder about the future for both mother and child. Unfortunately here in Australia I can see a future where there will be a lot of street kids. 😦

    • dearrosie says:

      The Australian government pays every single mother $5,000 just to have a baby? Good lord I didn’t know that. When my children were born I was given a monthly mother’s allowance from the government. When a young girl gets a one time lump sum she can run off without her baby.

      We have too many street kids here in L.A already. It breaks my heart to see how young some of those kids are…

      • magsx2 says:

        It started in 2002 and was meant to offset the aging population. When it started it was $3,000, and it kept going up. The $5,000 is now paid in fortnightly instalments, if your baby is still born you can get a lump sum.
        It is means tested so not every mother gets this but most do. All teenagers get this because they are normally still going to school. There are a lot of people that do not agree with this baby bonus.

  5. This is a difficult situation. What options are there: Adoption, Abortion, Motherhood? Any of the three options will have life long consequences. Sounds like she chose Motherhood, or did her mother persuade her with that decision?

    Positive thinking: some young teenage moms are good mothers! Let’s hope she’s one of them.

    This generation doesn’t get married. Single motherhood is the norm! I’m not sure single motherhood or are the grandparents raising the next generation.

    Young baby might be a future genius! This certainly got me thinking about choices we make in life. I sure enjoyed reading your post. Take care and stay safe.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi BISR,
      I somehow don’t think this poor little girl was given the option of whether to chose Adoption, Abortion, or Motherhood. Of course we’ll never know why the little girl kept the baby, but I think her mother did it for her. Why am I so sure? The way her mother spoke for her and told her what to do.
      I see many mothers with their babies, and the grandmothers. The mother always asks me for directions to the restroom or the coffee cart and the grandmother who is usually pushing the baby carriage and carrying all the stuff follows along – quietly – because she’s not in charge.

      Not many women need to feed in private – many mothers will just sit on the bench opposite me and nurse their babies.

      I could barely call this girl a teenager, she was so small. Poor thing.

  6. Oh yikes, I’m not sure whether I’ll say anything detailed. I’m rather anti-population growth and anti-uncontrolled breeding. 😦 But pro-planet and pro-quality of life.

    Anyhow, congrats on dealing objectively and professionally with the situation.

    • dearrosie says:

      Thanks for your great comment Tara.

      The most important advice I can give someone who works with the public is not to judge people. We don’t know why they made the decision to keep the baby and we’ll never know. I think it was the grandmother who decided because of the way the poor little girl was told what to do next.

  7. souldipper says:

    Without knowing the background, I couldn’t say what is most appropriate. A woman I know insisted that her 20 something daughter who was in University have an abortion. The daughter complied, but the cracks are starting to show. Two years later now – the daughter has begun having second thoughts and blame is starting to fly…

    Hope this year is simply the best so far, Rosie.

    • dearrosie says:

      Of course I can’t comment on your friend’s decision for her daughter without knowing the background to their story, but I understand that all of the options – i.e. Adoption, Abortion, Motherhood – would leave a twenty-something woman with doubts and second thoughts.

  8. I think it’s a good thing that the girl’s mother is involved and hasn’t abandoned her. Maybe it was an older father, maybe not. But either way, it must have been a hard decision for her to decide to keep the baby and raise it herself. Tough situation all in all.

  9. Interesting post and obviously thought provoking! I became a granddad for the third time last week and wouldn’t be without them!

  10. Adoption has its benefits, no doubt, but in my limited experience, I see that it leads to many questions for the adopted child once they become adults and seek more information on their birth mother. Who am I? Why did my mother give me up? There was even a TV show based on bringing together the birth mother and child. In some situations, the birth mother does not want interaction with the child they gave up for adoption because they never told anyone they were pregnant. In my day, young mothers went away to “an aunt’s house” to give birth and give the baby up. I would think it would haunt you the rest of your life, wondering what the child looks like, if they are happy. Of course, so many children are blessed with fabulous lives because they are adopted.

    I second CatBird’s sentiments. I think its a good thing the mother in this case is involved.

    • dearrosie says:

      In this case the mother had to be involved because her daughter was so young. Anyone could see with just one glance at the daughter how bewildered and nervous that poor little girl was.

      I understand that all of the options – i.e. Adoption, Abortion, Motherhood – would leave a young unmarried girl with doubts and second thoughts.
      The adopted children that I see at my cash register all seem to have blessed lives. How do I know they’re adopted? A white couple with an Asian or African kid.

      A friend of mine who grew up in New York and got pregnant while still an unmarried teenager was sent to one of those homes for unmarried women. I cried with her when she told me the story of what she went through…

      Thanks for joining the conversation EOS.

  11. frizztext says:

    taking out a map of the museum
    I showed them exactly where they had to go,
    then watched them walk off
    – in the wrong direction…

    • dearrosie says:

      Frizztext at least 50% of the tourists don’t wait for me to answer their question and go off in the wrong direction. Its infuriating. These two obviously weren’t listening.
      Thanks for joining the conversation.

  12. theonlycin says:

    It’s quite tragic really. I think that – if it was my daughter – I would raise the baby myself.

    • dearrosie says:

      From the comments I’ve received all my blogging buddies are fortunate in that they haven’t been faced with making the decision. It’s not an easy one to make.

  13. Bosco and Betty are such cute dogs. I’ve always been partial to the breed. I am sure you have many stories from people walking through the museum. You’ve painted a sad story. My experiences with others who have either been in this condition or had daughters who were, has taught me only one thing, and that is that sometimes no decision is really a good option in cases like this. One friend refers to making the better of the bad choices available. There are a lot of sad family stories out there!

    • dearrosie says:

      Last time we were in London we did an early morning walk on Hamstead Heath with Bosco and Betty. It was delightful to enjoy the Heath with them and their doggie friends. Bosco likes the taste of the iron in the water at one of the old water taps. The only way to get him to stop drinking was to pick him up and carry him away.

      I’m grateful that I’ve never had to make that painful decision either for myself or my children because I understand that all the options – i.e. Adoption, Abortion, Motherhood – would leave a young unmarried girl with doubts and second thoughts.

      I’ll never forget their expressions: the grandmother looked sad and stressed and her daughter was bewildered and exhausted, but tried to put on a brave face.

  14. Such a complicated thing, motherhood, and when you add in extreme youth to the equation, even moreso. I hope their family is in a good place, in spite of what may be very challenging circumstances…they do say love cures all ills – perhaps there is lots of love in the family and they will all be well and content in their lives. If there’s anything that rings true, it’s that a new life always means new hope and potential 🙂
    (love the shot of Bosco and Betty :))

    • dearrosie says:

      Thank you for joining in the conversation with such a thoughtful comment. I hope what you say comes to pass for that poor little girl and her baby i.e. that “… there will be lots of love in the family and they will all be well and content in their lives”

      I also love that photo of Bosco and Betty. Did you notice the pearls and the neck tie, and of course Bosco can’t wait to try the champagne.

  15. aFrankAngle says:

    The end of this post surprised me enough to wonder what triggered your thought?

    • dearrosie says:

      That little girl was still a child, her body was still a child’s body. I cannot imagine how she managed to give birth to the baby… I always look at people’s eyes to see how they really are – her eyes showed me fear and exhaustion.

      I’ll never forget that family.

  16. shoreacres says:

    Perhaps it’s my years as a social worker, combined with sixty-six years on the planet, but I just can’t bring myself to offer an opinion. It’s so easy to respond to what we see, only to find out later our interpretation of events was utterly wrong.

    I’m not saying your interpretation was wrong – it may be exactly on target. But let’s go in an entirely different direction. What if the young girl was raped? What if she has learning disabilities that make it difficult for her to communicate with others? What if she was the one who insisted on keeping the baby, and her mother is doing her best to help her learn how to function as a parent, in society, without hiding in shame at home?

    Whatever the facts of the case, it does seem to be a sad situation. But at least the baby and mother are together. Far too many young girls in my part of the world choose a dumpster or public toilet wastebasket as the solution to their “problem”.

    Now, on a more cheerful note – Happy New Year to you! And thanks for the grin. Bosco and Betty make a darned good-looking couple!

    • dearrosie says:

      Thank you for joining in the discussion Linda. I always look forward to your response. I didn’t know you’d worked as a social worker.

      Whether or not the young girl was raped, or whose decision it was to keep the baby, we can all give thanks that she didn’t chose a dumpster as a solution to the “problem”. I didn’t judge them when I greeted them as I didn’t know anything of their story but looking in their eyes I could see how sad and frightened they were. I’ll never forget them.

      Bosco and Betty’s “parents” are delighted that their photo has been so well received. Thanks Linda.

  17. Bosco & Betty look like a delightful and charming couple!

    I feel compassion for the young mother – adolescence can be a terribly confusing time life. It can be impossible for them to fully comprehend how quickly-made decisions can adversely effect them for so many years to come. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer here because every person, mother or grandmother, has different strengths, weaknesses, personal beliefs, and every situation is different. I hope that perhaps a social worker or a wise friend would offer some mature guidance and help the teenager and her mother to weigh the pros and cons of each option available to them.

    • dearrosie says:

      We met Bosco and Betty last time we were in London. They are both such characters.

      Thank you for joining in the discussion Barbara, you offer much wisdom in your comment. I’d hope that a pregnant kid would have a chance to speak to a social worker, but I wonder whether she’d listen to the advice. I think too many teenagers think having a baby is similar to getting a puppy… and love the idea of having their very own baby who’ll love them and look cute. I know a woman who got pregnant the first time at age 15 and had 3 kids by the time she was 20 and she told me she’d refused to listen to her mother’s advice.

  18. Guess what I asked first when I go to a public building? Yep, restroom or coffee section! You’re blessed to meet all this interesting people from different countries. Some even bring an irresistible humor. Thanks for sharing you world. Have a great week!

  19. I do feel sad for the young mom. She is just a kid herself. I feel sorry for her mom too. She will end up taking care of her young daughter and grand daughter. It is a difficult situation. I just wish everything will turn out well for all of them. They do need a lot of support to go through this difficult times.

    • dearrosie says:

      This is one instance where I wasn’t able to take a photo.
      Its unfortunate that we’ll never know how the mother and her baby are doing. I hope they feel all our good thoughts coming their way.

  20. Yikes, a 12- or 13-year-old mother? That’s going to be rough for everyone. I suppose it could be worse; at least the girl wasn’t kicked out of the house to fend for herself or something. Bosco and Betty are so cute!

    • dearrosie says:

      It’s so important to note that (1) the young mother wasn’t kicked out of house and (2) that the baby didn’t end up in a dumpster.
      Bosco and Betty’s Mom is delighted that everyone enjoyed her photo.

  21. bronxboy55 says:

    Where we live, teenaged mothers are eligible for special benefits from the government. Add to that the happy excitement of friends, lowered demands from teachers, and all the gifts and attention, and it begins to look as though we’re encouraging early pregnancy. And I guess we are. I don’t know that I’d have a specific reaction in any given situation, especially if I didn’t have the details or understand the circumstances. But as a general trend, it doesn’t seem wise to me. Very often, the young mother resumes her life, and it’s her parents who bear the burden.

    • dearrosie says:

      My goodness Charles, from your comment it seems as if teenage mothers in your part of the world are not only being wined and dined and celebrated but they get money from the government, so of course they’d all want to become pregnant. But on the other hand if the government didn’t offer these young girls a monthly allowance I think we’d all say how mean they are … There’s no easy solution.
      I think you’re right that the parents end up bearing the burden of raising the baby.

  22. munchow says:

    That’s a heart breaking story, and I agree with you. I would have recommended my daughter the same if she got pregnant at the that age. But on the other hand I am quite aware that I might be totally wrong, because who am I to judge others. They might be totally happy with their lives. But, yes, juvenile pregnancy is usually not the best, neither for the child nor the mother.

    • dearrosie says:

      Thanks for joining the discussion Otto. I can’t judge others and I tried to wipe any judgement off my face when I spoke to them, but I do not think a child of 12 or 13 is mature enough to be a mother, and I saw the fear in that young girl’s eyes

  23. Robin says:

    Being a teenage mother is no easy thing. I know this from my own experience. I did not give up my son for adoption and I am very glad I did not, but I am one of the lucky ones. My story has a happy ending. Or a happy continuation since it’s not over yet. 🙂 It breaks my heart to see very young mothers because I know how difficult it is to be thrown into adulthood. I think for some, adoption is certainly a good answer. For others, maybe not. My life might have turned out worse if I hadn’t been stopped short by pregnancy. I was on quite a downward spiral.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Robin,
      Its so wonderful to hear a story about a young unmarried mother that has a happy ending. I respect you, and I thank you so much for your honesty in sharing it with us. None of the three choices – i.e. Adoption, Abortion, or Motherhood – is perfect. I’m sure it must break your heart to see very young mothers.

  24. eof737 says:

    Who knows… but you guided her to the location which helped. 🙂

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