Parenthood is teaching me a LOT about myself. I didn’t know that I would have to juggle so many things at once and yet still feel like nothing has been done. I didn’t know that I could operate on such a small amount of sleep. Seriously! Lawmakers rightfully place a lot of focus on drunk drivers. They should add sleep-deprived parents to the list. I’ve literally woken up, bathed, bathed the baby, dressed us both, fed us both and arrived at work with no memory of doing ANY of these tasks. One time I actually sat at my desk to send an email and jolted to reality as I realized I was at work. I didn’t remember anything about my morning including the commute or dropping the baby at daycare. I literally called the school in a panic asking if my son was there and then spent the next 10 minutes crying in the bathroom feeling utterly hopeless. Yeah … parenthood is a beast! I often tell new Moms that motherhood is like jumping into a cold pool on a summer day. When you first hit the water, the temperature shocks your system; but, before you know it, you’re splashing around having the time of your life not feeling the cold at all.
Even still, my son has been my greatest accomplishment. He’s so bright. It amazes me how much he consumes in a day and literally spits it all back to show how much he’s learned. He’s a little “me” walking around. Amazing! I wish he were a bit more like my husband. My Hubby Honey is calm, quiet and reserved, while I’m loud, full of life and care-free. That’s my son all day long. He is a ball of energy and not simply because he’s three. The way he talks to people. The way he regards you if he doesn’t know you. The way he corrects you when he feels you’re speaking complete nonsense. The way he gravitates towards music. His soul. His … everything. He’s me. Through and through. And while he amazes me, I’m also stumped by him. He has to be the most willful, stubborn little thing I’ve EVER encountered.
Before having our son, I was really only nervous about one thing: potty training. I’d heard the stories. I heard how boys are harder and that it’s a test of patience. I’d heard all of the different techniques including reward them with a song or reward them with a small piece of candy. I’d also been told to put colorful cereal in the toilet and make a game of him hitting it with his urine. Let him walk around naked because he’ll likely stop before going potty on your floor (TOTALLY not true for our son). I read all of the books and did tons of chatting on parenting sites. I became the most prepared unprepared parent in the history of parenthood.
I delayed it as long as possible because I didn’t want to deal. I transitioned my son from diapers to pull-ups all the while telling myself that pull-ups were underwear. Yeah. They’re not. They are diapers for kids who are not potty trained and money suckers for parents who refuse to face potty training. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a genius invention. Whoever thought of it deserves some sort of Nobel Peace Prize or something. We weren’t ready to face the responsibility and pull-ups gave us time to get brave. Everything was “good in the hood” until Noah experienced an extreme growth spurt. He went from looking like a 2-year-old to looking like a 4-year-old in the matter of weeks. And it aint cute when your 2-year-old who looks like a 4-year-old squats in middle of a store to take a crap. Good grief …
So, we broke down and finally began the process of trying to train our son. We set a timer and would take him every hour on the hour and at least 20 minutes after he would eat or drink. We literally kept up this process for MONTHS with zero progress. He would go pee pee if we took him, but refused to indicate that he had to go. So if I didn’t keep a timer and control of his liquids, he would just pee on himself. I should note that he was also still wearing pull-ups while we were potty training which I now know vastly slowed the process because he was basically still wearing a diaper. It was a disaster.
It was such a stressful time in our household. My Hubby and I don’t fight. Ever. But potty training this kid was pushing us to the breaking point. We were snapping at each other for no good reason. We weren’t having sex as often and weren’t in agreement about the path to take to get the kid trained. Every time he peed on himself it was like a slap in the face reminder that we were failing our kid and failing as parents. It was an emotional drain. Every parent we encountered would say, “He’s gonna get it eventually. Hang in there. It’s a long road, but there is an end. Don’t give up. We feel you!” I wanted to punch them all in the face. I wanted to scream, “SHUT THE F*** UP!!! HOW COULD YOU SMILE AT THIS SITUATION WHEN WE ARE LITERALLY FALLING APART??!?” We were living in hell alone. It felt like no one understood our pain and frustration.
What hurt the most was the judgment we experienced. We got it from parents who didn’t have potty training issues, my mother (albeit unintentional, but I still felt it), friends, family and our church! For example, we drop our son at the nursery at church so that we can actually enjoy the service. In order for our son to attend the older classroom, he must be potty trained, but since he isn’t he’s still in the nursery. However, he’s really tall and looks like he should be in the older classroom, so EVERY week we’d have to explain the situation. The worse was when one of the teachers said, “He really should be potty trained by now?! What’s the problem?!” I wanted to tackle her right there in the vestibule and bash her head against the concrete. I wanted to scream, “B*tch! Don’t you think I know that?! Don’t you think I want that?! Stay out of my f****** business!” Instead, I swallowed my shame and hurt and decided not to return until he was potty trained. Yeah, we haven’t been to church in months. How sad is that? I’m watching my church service online because I’m sick of being judged about this shameful parenting moment.
I finally got sick of torturing myself and was tired of seeing my husband’s defeated face. I decided to release it thanks to the loving advice from two people: my cousin Tyrone and my pediatrician Dr. Hassel. At our son’s 3rd birthday party a few weeks ago, my cousin Tyrone said, “I don’t know any adults that pee and poo on themselves. Take it easy. He’ll get it when he gets it.” Our pediatrician said, “Your son is excelling in EVERY other developmental area. He spells his name, he’s beginning to read, he speaks clearer than most five-year-olds and he’s incredibly perceptive. Refusing to potty is the one area where he’s showing he’s still just a baby … and that’s okay.” Hearing those words finally allowed me to let go of the frustration. I realized that my son would get it eventually and I didn’t have to feel that his inability to get it TODAY didn’t mean I was failing him as a parent. It just meant that he needed more practice. He needed patience. He needed me not to pressure him like the world was pressuring me. He needed me to chill the f*** out. And so I did.
No sooner than I decided to chill out did my baby boy came to me and said, “Mommy, I need to go pee pee … and maybe boo boo.” He runs upstairs, lifts the seat, goes pee pee, sets the seat down and climbs up to go boo boo. It was like a miracle. I think Christ the Mighty King came in the room and said, “It is time, my son. Go. Go potty.” And he hasn’t looked back. He tells us every time and he hasn’t had any accidents! Now, I do bribe him a bit. If he goes #1, he gets one M&M. If he goes #2, he gets three M&Ms. If he does both unprompted, he gets three M&Ms and 20 minutes of iPad time. And it’s working like a charm. This week I stopped giving him any prize for bathroom time with exception to the potty song we made up and he hasn’t noticed. He still goes like a champ. It’s really incredible!
Now, I know pottying (if that’s even a word) is not an extremely interesting or sexy topic, especially for those of you who don’t have children; but, I share it because there are so many things in this world that push us to feel as though we’re failing because we don’t measure up to some invisible standard we are placing upon ourselves. We forget that this life we are living is a universal human experience and there’s nothing new under the sun. If you’re experiencing it, it’s a safe bet that so is someone else. You’re not failing just because you don’t accomplish something at the same rate as other people. Your will to continue pushing forward is evidence of your success. You only fail when you quit trying.
Parenthood really is teaching me a lot about myself. I’m learning that I’m extremely resilient and that I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff … even when the small stuff involves poo.
Love you. Mean It. ~AskThePRGirl