Oh, the magic of potty training!
When my firstborn was at this stage, I read all the books. I asked every experienced parent I talked to. I combed online parenting forums.
I made a plan and prepared myself for battle.
Then, as if hitting the easy button, my son was potty trained. On the first day!
I was disappointed that I didn’t get to use all my new-found knowledge.
But then my second baby came. I knew that one day I’d have to pull out the little potty again.
Fast Forward Two Years.
I was reading How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei-Ling Hopgood. Every chapter is dedicated to a stage in childhood and focuses on a culture that has a unique perspective: From Argentinian’s late bedtime to how the French get their kids to eat all the food.
I got to the chapter on Chinese families potty training their children at young ages, especially in rural communities where they can’t afford disposable diapers.
The epiphany came. I had forgotten all about potty training, and I sure was tired of changing diapers. This week would be the perfect time to potty train my daughter, I thought. My husband is home for the week, so he can do all the things I would normally do–and I can dedicate all my time to my daughter.
I didn’t re-read my favorite potty training book, Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki, but I remembered the general ideas. There were three stages: 1. Accidents 2. Potty cues 3. Lightbulb moment.
Day One Came.
I had talked potty training up to my daughter but not nearly enough. As soon as the diaper came off, she begged for it to go back on.
I explained some more.
She looked unsure.
“Would you like some apple juice?” I offered.
Yes, I started pushing the liquids: juice, milk, water. I think I even offered her soup at one point.
But, like a camel, the whole morning, she wouldn’t go.
When the waters did flow, out came the shocked, what-do-I-do? look. We rushed over to the little potty.
Stage one complete. On to stage two. Or so I thought.
The rest of the day was riddled with distractions and unplanned activities. Stage one repeated itself over and over and over again.
With my son, I was overly prepared. With my daughter, I had underprepared. Total failure.
I Was Feeling the #Momfail.
That night as I recapped my day with my husband, I shared my frustration. Even though I don’t believe in karma, that’s exactly what it felt like. Potty training my son was easy. My daughter . . .
“It wasn’t like this the first time,” I said to my husband.
“You’re a different mom this time. She’s a different child. Give yourself some grace,” my husband’s wise words soothed.
I sighed and decided not to throw up my hands yet.
Day two was similar to day one in that there were many distractions and unplanned activities. With my son, I had been able to dedicate my time and attention to the potty training process. With my daughter, life kept interrupting.
But by that afternoon, she said she thought she had to go.
Stage Two: Potty Cues. Complete.
And then, the “aha” came. Her face shown with pride as she went potty time and time again.
(It was making her sing her “ABC’s” every time that really sealed the deal.)
Every Child is Different.
I know there will be potty accidents in the future. (I would be foolish to think that by day two she would be perfectly potty trained.) But the whole process was a good reminder to me.
My son and my daughter are different. God created them with different personalities and abilities. Why did I have similar expectations with two very different children?
Motherhood is so much about attitude. My children grow. That’s their job. Before I know it, my daughter will take another step toward independence. And thanks to a little reminder from my husband, I can see the beauty of how my daughter’s steps will differ from her brother’s.
I’m awed to be a part of it. That’s the magic.