In Holland children are welcomed into the workplace. In Asia babies are taken into the kitchens by waiting staff while Mum enjoys a meal. On Malaysian airline flights stewardesses will gleefully take the opportunity to rock a baby as she wanders up and down the aisle. In Columbia mums-to-be receive a minimum six weeks paid maternity leave, with some companies offering up to six months PAID.

So why in Australia do we not respect children, welcome them in, and financially compensate for raising them? Are we too poor a nation? No! Are children necessary to provide labour within the home? No! Do we lack the education to understand children? No! Are our health facilities lacking? No! Is the population spiraling out of control? No!

So what’s the reason behind this? I’ll quickly run out of fingers on my hands and toes on my feet thinking of the number of times my presence with my daughter was unwelcome. And she’s not even two years old yet. Chemists, doctor’s waiting rooms, restaurants, cafes, specialists’ rooms, transportation, shops, libraries, museums, beaches. There is one post office I will not go into because I received so many disapproving stares and derogatory comments (and that was all from the staff.)

I have received looks of distaste and critical comments. Never have I received a compliment or has anyone offered to actually help in any real way (Actually I lie, I have received one compliment directed towards my daughter). I have struggled with heavy doors with a baby in a pram and met with vacant stares, rather than any assistance. I have wrestled with shopping trolleys, while holding my daughter and trying to find one with a workable restraint attached. At the same time people have stood impatient waiting for their own trolley. I have tried to maneuver a stroller through a shop’s aisle because a heavy box was filling the space, only having to leave the store as the shopkeeper watched on. I have been to restaurants where I have had to find, set up and clean the highchair only to find it has broken straps. I have lugged suitcases onto a shuttle bus along with my daughter in a pram only to be told I’m blocking the aisle and to move in.

I could go on but I have neither the time nor the inclination to write a novel-length piece of the subject. What disappoints me is this attitude we have towards young children and mums. We are inconveniences, we are not worthy of assistance, we cause disruption and we are met with disapproval. It’s not always the case. The elderly are often kind and will coo and aah at my baby, or let me go first in the queue. Young mums will often make short comments and comparisons. Some receptionists will hand you a form with babe in arms instead of making you carry it back and forth. But generally speaking, I often wish I could sink into the sticky floors of the shopping centre, or disappear behind that doctor’s room door I can’t negotiate.

Let’s hope in the future children become as revered as they ought to be. After all, they ARE our future.

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