It’s that time.
We are in the throws of potty training over here. I apologize for the pee-tunnel vision – but when you are in it, it’s pretty much consumed your life for the time being.
I’m going to be frank. I feel like I have been pretty laid back about motherhood for the most part… until now. I don’t think much about milestone timelines and I’ve kind of always held the mindset that babies/toddlers get to where they are going on their own time. You can’t force them to walk or talk or crawl or sit up. They do it when they are ready.
But this… this whole potty training gig is something we have to teach. They don’t just wake up one day and pass by you on their way to the bathroom with a Golden Book under one arm, and then come out afterwards holding a cigarette and coffee.
I don’t know why that visual makes me laugh out loud, but it does.
Yes, yes – I know. There is nothing funny about a smoking toddler.
Anyway, can I continue here?
Ok, let me tell you, I was not prepared.
In full honesty, I was always very flippant about potty training. “Oh, we plan to just do that 3-day boot camp thing.” That is what I actually said to people. Don’t worry, my eyes are rolling so far back into my own head, I’m temporarily blind. Oh, it’s just that simple, is it? Aww, good for you! Now take this bucket of baby-urine I’ve saved up for you and dump it over your mom-bob, you jackass.
I’m sorry. That was totally uncalled for. Your bob is perfectly lovely. I’m just under a lot of stress right now.
My sister once told me, about a month after I had my daughter, Ivy, that though she realizes I am so grateful to be a mom (because of the fertility issues we had, etc.), that doesn’t mean that I can go about life never complaining about parenthood. She said it won’t make me ungrateful to vent, it will just make me human.
Well, I would like to cash in my complaint chip here, sister! I have found my kryptonite. And it comes in the form of potty chairs and Little Mermaid underpants. And I am allowing myself a temporary moratorium from gratefulness.
Because… this suuuuuuuucks.
Day 1: Enthusiasm and Exasperation.
Rise and shine! We’ve been mentally preparing all weekend that Monday is the “big day”! No more diapers! Ivy was excited all weekend, but this morning, she is sleepy and unenthused. I coerce her with the wall chart I made – and remind her of the wonderful stickers she can collect. Suddenly, she is on board. We rip off her diaper and I put her on the toilet. And we wait.
After I come to the conclusion that I birthed a red-headed camel or that she possibly has a reserve bladder, we take a break (much to her chagrin, because she’s bound and determined to get a sticker). But not for long. She wants back on. I like her determination! And so we wait a bit more.
And… you get the idea.
I give her milk to drink (while on the potty) and tell her it will help her go. She takes two huge gulps, looks down at her privates and says, “IT’S NOT WORKING!” I make a mental note that we need to speak about the perils of instant gratification.
I convince her to take a break and I put her new big-girl underpants on. She happily plays with her toys on the floor and at one point, when she moves across the rug, I see a wet spot. Our first accident. She didn’t even care or notice! But, I don’t make a big deal out of it. We clean it up and I tell her that we will try again.
It is now noon. She lets out a big sigh and calmly says, “Mommy, I’m tired. I want to take a nap.” I’m serious. She is actually requesting a nap. She knows her limits. I tell her I feel the same way. I put a pull-up on her and she happily goes down for a nap without a peep. God love her.
She wakes 2 1/2 hours later and is ready to go again. But she has wet her pull-up while napping, so I know we may be in for the long haul. We spend the next hour on and off the toilet. Finally, we get one tiny microscopic poop! Then… another! HOORAY! A giant celebration ensues! She picks out two stickers (she gets one for potty, two for poop) and proudly places it on her board!
We can DO this! All faith is restored! We got this!
My husband comes home from work shortly thereafter. Ivy shows off her stickers! Everything is wonderful!
I leave to pick up my step-daughter from dance and my husband stays with Ivy. I get a text that simply has a poop emoji. I silently cheer! (This is what our life has come to.) Then I get a video of her singing a deeply dramatic version of Hello by Adele while on the toilet. I am then informed she has peed. YESSS!
I arrive home with my step-daughter and Ivy is elated to show off her additional stickers. We all applaud and cheer her on.
And then SPLASH. Pee comes pouring out of her while she sits on a stool at the kitchen island. She is scared by it and starts crying. I calmly tell her it’s fine but next time, try and tell Mommy if she feels it. Fifteen minutes later, another splash by the area rug. Again, she’s scared. I realize that she has only had accidents when she’s wearing underpants, so I strip them off her and we decide to go commando. No accidents the rest of the night.
Pull-up goes on for bedtime and I tell her how fantastic she did on her first day while secretly wondering how I’m going to be able to keep doing this while also keeping my sanity.
Day 2: Mama Needs a Drink.
Today we had no accidents, but it was emotionally the worst day by far.
We have decided to keep going commando, because she is more aware of her need to go this way. She feels “safe” when she has underpants on and will pee in them. And, frankly, she apparently loves the freeing feeling, because she won’t even put pants on now when we try. However, because she is so aware and afraid to pee while naked, we are in the bathroom EVERY 45 SECONDS. That is not an exaggeration. It’s a constant rotation of her grabbing herself, yelling “Mommy, I have to go!”, running to the bathroom and then….nothing. She then asks to get down. We go back in the living room. And it starts all over again 15 seconds later.
I am drained.
This goes on for hours and hours. We have no accidents, but we also have no sanity. We have spent the entire day, aside from her nap, in the bathroom. I expected to be in there much of the day, but the constant false alarms and drama of it is slowly killing my will. By the time my husband comes home, I am at my wits end and need a break before I end up in the fetal position. The only saving grace is that my work days have been slow (I work from home). I don’t know how I’m going to keep this up when I start to get slammed with projects.
At the end of the evening, when I find myself losing my temper with her, I take a step back and shut it down. I hug her and hold her and apologize and tell her I love her and that we are going to change things up and do it our way. She says, “ok” in the tiniest, sweetest voice there ever was. We are both learning here – and this is all a foreign concept to her. She’s doing her best and I’m failing her with my frustration.
Piss on that, potty training!
Day 3: Newfound Zen
We are now in the zen-stage of potty training. I have woken up with a new outlook. If she has an accident, so what? If a giant softball of poop falls out of her while we try to race to the bathroom (and it did), so what? We are just going with it – and it is so. much. better. this way.
Other than the softball poop drop, we have no real accidents. Our issue now appears to be her holding her pee in. We’ve read this is common and to keep going (within reason). She eventually pees throughout the day, but is frightened each time. One time, she circled her portable potty like a caged animal, finally sat on it and cried out when she started peeing. This was immediately followed by a maniacal laugh when she realized peeing was a good thing. (I wish I had a video of that One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest/Jack Nicholson moment.)
Her last pee of the day – right before bed – is just as dramatic, but successful.
Day 4: Must. Keep. Going.
Ivy wakes up with a wet pull-up, per usual. I couldn’t care less about this. All morning and early afternoon, we attempt to go on the potty.
Not a drop.
I text my husband and tell him I can’t do this anymore, but I’m looking more for consolation and encouragement than surrender, and I realize this when he responds, “Maybe we’ll try again in several months.”
Oh hell no. I didn’t go through three days of bodily function hell to end up at square one in six months.
We. Must. Keep. Going.
(Does my husband know me, or what?)
Finally, at 12:30pm, Ivy starts doing the wild animal circle around her potty chair in the living room. She keeps holding herself and exclaiming, “It hurts!” I know she has to go and I don’t know how to explain to stop holding it in! She screams, “I’M TIRED! I WANT TO TAKE A NAP. MOMMY, GO GET A PULL-UP!” and I now realize my child is a maniacal genius. She wants to just pee in her pull-up in peace under the guise of taking a nap. Though I am silently impressed (and slightly frightened) by her savvy attempt at manipulation, I insist we persevere.
I calmly tell her that I will put her pull-up on after she pees. She finally gives in and sits on the potty and pees. Once again, an instant transformation into excited, happy child forms. Stickers are placed! M&Ms are consumed. All is well!
She then gets her pull-up on herself and happily goes down for a nap. My kid has always been a good sleeper, but her eagerness for naps is outright blasphemous to toddlers everywhere at this point.
She finds this pee and poop business e x h a u s t i n g.
Same, girl. Same.