Written by Emily
I potty trained two children already and had you asked me about it, I would have told you, “it’s no big deal”. I would have shrugged and said in a tone some could have called smug, “I just waited until they were ready.” I might have scoffed in the back of my mind and rolled my eyes about potty training books, endless strategy sessions, or discussing it all. I’m kind of an expert.
Like all developmental milestones, I swelled with pride when my big boy dropped one on his own. We were sitting down to lunch when he summoned us from the table to take a look. We danced. We clapped our hands. It was done. I’m a rockstar!
When #2 mastered #2, I was convinced the potty training industry was making something totally natural a complicated mess…and who needs it to be messier?
Fast forward three years…
I see only a white-knuckled grip on the side of the couch. You’d miss it if my living room didn’t smell like a Job Johnny that hadn’t been cleaned in years.
“Do you want to use the potty?”
“No! I can make it stop!” she answers with her little legs locked.
“No. No! Don’t make it stop. It’s okay!”
And then she emerges from her hiding place with nothing more than a rancid Raisinet in her pants. She successfully made it stop. Probably for days.
Suddenly I’m ready to talk about potty training. I’m no expert. I am an idiot.
It’s been months now. She picked out big girl unders at the store. She was thrilled to put them on. She wanted to wear them, “now, Mommy! Please put them on now!” I waited until we were home because I’m a fool but not that big a fool.
I enthusiastically pulled those Doc McStuffins panties over her bottom and hoped we turned a corner. Ten minutes later her Hello Kitty shoes were filled to the brim with urine, and she was yelling for Mommy.
While I clean her up, I scold myself for forcing her. I remind myself that I waited until her brother and sister were ready before we plunged into potty training. They let me know.
As I secure a diaper around her little hips, a fear–the dark angel on my shoulder–rears its head: “What if she’s never ready? She’ll have written a screen play and have a patent but still be in diapers.”
I tell that voice to shut it, but walking by the adult diapers in the grocery store later that night, it comes back again.
I can do this. She’s ready!
Five more puddles on the floor, and I know she is not.
While I wait for her to be ready I try to stifle thoughts of adult-sized excrement smeared onto my person. I try not to imagine the sweltering heat of summer and soiled diapers that rival acres of farmland. I don’t entertain the thought that every club and school program requires potty trained children. Shhhhh.
Instead I high-five myself because this summer there is one fewer child who has to use every public restroom from our house to the beach four hours away. I try to celebrate the few extra months I have before I construct sky-high toilet paper nests on nasty thrones and beg one more to hold onto Mommy instead of the stained seat, “But not onto Mommy after you’ve gripped the stained seat!!!! And why are you caressing my face?” I’m enjoying the idea of being able to eat a warmish meal when we’re having dinner at a restaurant instead of performing a bathroom relay race with my husband where our potty-training toddler is the baton.
I’m really very lucky.
I keep telling myself that when I curl next to my little one as she drifts to sleep, covering both of us in the fragrant aroma of fresh urine that for some reason won’t be contained by her Ariel pull-up.
Before I clean up, fear–that dark angel–whispers in my ear again, but rather than entertain her twisted ideas, I rub her face in the warm, wet sheets until she surrenders.
While I change out of my wet clothes, I think: This, too, shall pass…
into the potty…
In the meantime, I’m ready to talk about potty training.