Adventures in Public Restrooms: How To Traumatize A Blind Mother

Adventures in Public Restrooms: How To Traumatize A Blind Mother

This week, I had another “first” in the wild world of motherhood. After shopping in my local mall for a few hours, my almost pre-schooler, announced she had to “go to the potty right away.” Of course her declaration came just as my other darling child decided to throw the mother of all tantrums in front of Macy’s men’s department.  With one daughter screaming bloody murder, and the other one tugging my arm to run towards the ladies room; it was pretty clear what was about to go down. “I’ll take her” I said to my husband. I swear there was ominous music playing in the background.

I had given my guide dog the afternoon off, since she had been with me for several hours at the doctor that morning. I flipped open my trusty cane and began sliding it across the tile floor, while I listened to my daughter repeat, “I gotta, go. I really gotta go.” Thanks a lot, Nina. (If you’re a parent you will get that reference.)

Stairs With Teeth: 

We easily made it to the elevator, which we had just used twenty minutes prior, only to find it had been shut down for maintenance. Quickly, we spun around and headed for the escalator. Very rarely do I take escalators because I don’t work Frances, my guide dog, on them and I am not usually without my baby stroller.

My daughter stopped dead in her tracks. “Mommy, I’m not stepping on that thing. It has teeth!”

“No, it doesn’t honey, it’s stairs.”

“No, those are teeth and it’s going to bite me.”

I gave her hand a tug and I could feel the resistance as she tried to pull away. “Nuala, this is our only route to the bathroom. Sometimes, we need to face our fears to get where we need to go.”

“Whelp, I’m not going. I’ll just pee right here on the floor.” 

I could hear the lady at the perfume counter giggle at my daughter’s response.

“The hell you will,” I said and yanked her right onto the stairs.

Two second later, when she realized she was not going to be swallowed whole by it’s “teeth”, the Macy’s escalator became the equivalent of Disneyland for this kid.

“Wow, mommy can we ride this some more.”

I wanted to choke her.

Hot off our new thrill ride, I swung a left through women’s clothing, where we encountered our next obstacle, an elderly old man. I was sure the sound of my cane moving towards him would cause him to step to the side and let me pass.  No such luck.  I must of hit the back of his shoe, when he swung around and said, “Why are you in such a hurry?”

“Excuse me, sir, but I have a little girl who has a potty emergency.” 

“That’s no excuse to hit somebody with your stick” he barked.

God help me, if I had had a few more moments, I may have done just that. Instead, I forced a smile, and muttered the words “sorry” under my breath as we pushed past him.

Restroom In Sight: 

I knew the bathroom was just in front of us. Nuala had never used a public restroom before, aside from having her diaper changed. I knew this was going to be new territory for the both of us. Trying to keep it safe, I went straight for the handicapped stall. I figured it would give me enough room to lift my daughter and maneuver around. I knocked on the door before pushing it open.

Unbeknownst to me, it had been left unlocked. There before me stood one of the most frightening things I had ever seen; (even with 20/900 central vision) an old naked woman, her Depends around her knees, and a full frontal showcasing her silver lady business!

“Oh! Oh my God!  I am so, so sorry. Please, excuse me,” as I grabbed my kid and turned around.

The old woman laughed, “It’s okay, I never lock the door.  It’s always good for a laugh!”

Laugh? Laugh, she said?

What kind of sick, twisted, senior citizen likes to hang out in the public restroom of Macy’s looking to shock people in all her wrinkly-nakedness? Had she escaped from the local asylum? If I wasn’t already visually impaired; I very well may have been after seeing that!

My cane continued to get caught on the toilet paper that littered the floor.  Every stall was a mess. I must have said “Don’t touch anything” at least a million times.  It got me thinking that elderly voyeur may have been more sane than I was.

Finally, I picked a stall.

I broke off some toilet paper and began layering the seat.

“Mommy, are we making the toilet seat into a mummy?” Nuala asked.

When I was satisfied with my feeble attempt at sanitizing, I pulled down her pants and stuck her on the bowl.

“Mommy will hold you. Don’t touch anything.” I knelt down in front of my daughter. I could feel her legs shaking.

“Mommy, this place is dirty.”

“Yes, yes it is. “

“I don’t like it here.”

“Me neither, baby, just go and we can go home.”

“The bathroom in the mall is scary.”

I held myself back from agreeing with her because the image of that naked old lady had been seared into my brain. “Just go, Nuala and then we can go home.”

Her head looked up towards the ceiling,

“Mommy, can I ask you something?”

At this point I could see there was not halting the conversation.

“Sure, honey.”

“How come you never told me old people wear diapers? I thought only babies wore them?”

I could hear the other woman in the stall next to me laughing. My encounter with the senior flasher had peaked my four-year old’s curiosity. Before I could get out the answer, she blurted out a follow up question.

“And why did that lady have gray hair on her vagina? Did something scare her?”

I could feel myself getting flush as the laughter of the neighboring stall got louder. “Why do you think something scared her?”  

“Because you told me that when you get scared, it gives you gray hair. She must have seen something really scary.” 

I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or put her in a time out. I had nothing. Mic drop. The kid left me speechless.

“Nuala, please just go to the bathroom.”

She grinned at me. “I can’t go. It’s too dirty.” 

There was one thing I was sure of, after everything I had just gone through in the past fifteen minutes we were not leaving that disgusting public restroom until she had done her business.

“Oh yes, you can.  Let’s sing a song.” 

I broke into the “Siamese Cats” song from Lady and the Tramp as she sat on the toilet. Finally, I heard the glorious sound of urine hitting porcelain!  THANK GOD!

“Don’t touch anything,” I said as I wiped her and pulled up her pants. “Stand here, because mommy has to go to.” 

Just as I went to squat down, I heard someone push on the door. “Sorry” they said when they realized it was locked.

“Did that scare you, momma?” 

“Just a little,” I said.

“Don’t get too scared. You don’t want your vagina to turn white too.”  

OH MY GOD, THIS KID! I had officially reached my mommy breaking point.

“Let’s not talk anymore until we get out of the bathroom, okay.”


With hands washed, we trekked back to the “scary stairs with the teeth.” We found our way to the parking lot, where Aoife was still screaming and kicking her car seat.  My husband loaded Nuala inside.

“How was that?” he asked.

I looked at my husband, “I saw things, horrible things.”

My husband laughed, “Was it really that bad?”

Nah,” Nuala said. “It was fun. We took a ride on the teeth monster and then saw an old lady in a diaper who had silver vagina hair.” 

My husband looked at me.

“I’ll tell you the story later, I’m too traumatized to speak.” 

“Yeah, I’m trauma-dized too” my daughter giggled.