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  • by Lindy Schneider
nearly got to see the Pompeii exhibition, in the throes of its closing week at the Melbourne Museum. This morning when I awoke I realised today was my last opportunity, and there was no way of going sans the wee children.

So I packed 14 bags, enough snacks to feed a small village, awfully complicated pram that now has booster seat and no steering control, our resident packhorse, emergency warning kit, assorted age appropriate politically correct amusements, four season wardrobe… oh and not forgetting the two toddlers I own, and schlepped them all the way into the city, a two hour drive (made especially long if no-one naps or my music selection is not to their distinguished tastes).

On arrival, I faced all the usual city hassles we know and love – no parking at the Museum, endless blocks to secure a street park and only a $50 note for the coin operated ticket machine, so after a quick café stop, an emergency toilet run in the middle of a sushi hand roll and 38 serviette’s – the minimum for removing bubbacino from a child’s face, we were ready to embark on the pram trek over the highlands of the Nicholson St gardens (which looks quite flat until you are pushing the combined total weight of 38 kg in pram and children).

pizza oven

A blessedly short queue for the Pompeii exhibit and my excitement is reaching fever pitch. Pompeii fascinated me as an 8 year old girl and this has stayed with me a lifetime. I can smell the ancient proverbial pizza.

So imagine my dismay when, on approaching the ticket counter I spot a “small print” kind of sign that says “NO prams or strollers in exhibition.”

Now I have a 20 month old son who lives by the edict that he can be anywhere but beside me in 3 seconds or less, and a 3 year old daughter who will try anything once, but wont accept there are limits until she has found them “ALL BY MYSELF MUMMY!”. The idea of carrying / dragging / hand holding 2 wiggly toddlers (and all the other related paraphernalia) in an exhibition with other assorted life forms was less than desirable.

‘No pram, no life’ it appears. I abandoned my plans and forlornly accepted the free tickets the lovely woman behind the counter offered me for the “pram approved” Children’s Museum, when she realised how gutted I was. I did wonder however, if wheelchairs would suffer the same fate as prams and be excluded from the gallery – I doubt it. In protest, I was tempted for a moment to allow my children to offer the gallery a yoghurt and banana inspired installation art piece on display case # 42, but even then the wait to get in, some 90 minutes or more, defeated plans before they could even be made.

So my little ones had a wild time exploring the delightful little world of the Children’s Gallery. But the closest I get to an excavation is the sand pit with the paintbrushes, where swarms of school children brush away at the grains to reveal plaster cast dinosaur bones, little Skyes lost tooth, and someone’s cheese sandwich from last week.

So all this got me thinking about how inhospitable the world can be for a mother with young children, and how often I find myself using the disabled services on offer, as a mum.

Isn’t that telling? We mums are probably one of the largest ‘demographic’ groups, but with the least amount of helpful stuff! Sure most of us are already a little bit grumpy through persistent sleep deprivation (which doesn’t end when the baby sleeps through contrary to popular belief), weary for the heavy training schedule we endure through the physical lifting of squirming toddlers (my biceps have never been bigger) and are UN standard negotiation experts extraordinaire, able to leap prams in a single bound, but sometimes we’d just like it all to be made a little bit easier for us to be in the real world with our fellow adult human beings. Why does motherhood sometimes feel like having a disability?

So Pompeii Exhibition, you will miss me this time and I will have to be content with my precious memories of walking your stone laid strade over 10 years ago, but world out there if you can listen and heed for just a moment – pram or no pram, we should not be limited by the fact that us mums can rarely travel solo.

And I am wondering – did they have prams in Pompeii??

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