Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In the meantime

The thing with being a parent is that as soon as you have one area under control, another challenge rises up from the deep and threatens to take all of your sanity with it, and while you step from the once comfortable path toward an unknown new direction it seems that you find yourself in the meantime...

Last week we started potty-training. "We" was really me, and I think that's the heart of the problem. It wasn't a problem at the beginning; no, it was more like the perfect solution for the circumstances--being that my friend with twins, who is also a teacher, brought up the fact that all three toddlers would be well-served by knowing how to use the toilet before school starts in August. And on my end, there was the other slightly pressing detail of my pregnancy, and the fact that I was determined to grit my teeth and get this done before baby #2 comes along in December. So I took Angelica to my friend's house for a little potty-training boot camp. Spend a couple days with the twins, everyone watching each other drink lots of juice and sit on the potty at intervals, and then some tasty treats (read: chocolate) for continual motivation. The first morning seemed like a success--Angelica, along with the twins, peed in their potties and all was well. All was well until she "held it" for about five hours after that, and in utter defeat, I had to put a diaper on her and take my melting-down-haven't-had-a-nap toddler to the car.

In the meantime I stressed and exploded inwardly. Was I not teaching her what she needed to do? She's smart enough--why won't she just do it? I felt like a failure because she wouldn't comply. I still do, to be perfectly honest. I compared this challenge to my previous weaning escapade, laughing that the previous one was emotional and that this was just physical run-around. But I stopped laughing when I realize how wounded I've been feeling. This is also emotional. It's so emotionally draining that I am exhausted by the effort of wondering what I could be doing better to make this work.

But that's the thing. You've never seen someone more dedicated to the cause. My friend and I call each other, speaking in tones of anguish as one of her twins regresses and Angelica seems to not progress. We tote the potties with us the library and the park--Angelica stark naked, just sitting on her potty in broad daylight--as the park employee and teenage girls on bikes pass by try not to stare. And I die inwardly of embarrassment but press on...and I'm thankful that I can lean on my friend for support since she knows exactly what this feels like.

In the meantime, I keep hearing that this will happen on its own time, that she will show me when she's ready. I believe it, but I also hold on to the pride of accomplishment--this is a parenting task I want to cross of of the list of things to do--I want some control in this, or at least to demonstrate some leadership. I want to show the world something palpable that I've done in the hopes of proving that I'm doing a good job. Still looking for that outside approval, I suppose. And of course, I want it done before school starts and the baby comes and life becomes that much more chaotic. So I don't think my motives are all that bad...

Right now we are neither here nor there. We are in the middle--not in diapers but not out of them, exactly. Everyday has its hopes and disappointments and so I ask--what do I do in the meantime? I write about it because I don't want to someday forget that this was a struggle. In our pre-child days, we measure our actions by accomplishments. As parents, we learn that sometimes just giving it you best effort--one more day--is the best you can do.

In the meantime, maybe we'll try pull-ups...


  1. "...sometimes giving it your best effort--one more day--is the best you can do..." So true--and sometimes that best is better than you really think it is--you just can't see it while in the thick of the battle!

    Great post. The little ones can teach us so much about ourselves, can't they?

    I love the new look of your blog!!

  2. Loved this post. Just remember that little kids seem to act out of necessity. They eat because they're hungry, not because they're in the "mood" for chocolate. They nap because they're tired, not because curling up with a blanket on a rainy day sounds nice. I'm starting to think that maybe the kicker with our "naked technique" was that Reed had to use the potty out of necessity. Even though he is only 2, he seemed to realize that making a mess in the floor was not ok. And it honestly only happened a handful of times. Don't give up. Even if she doesn't get the hang of it as soon as you hope, having two kids in diapers for a short time isn't the end of the world! :) We endured it for a couple months, and lived to tell about it! You're a great mom.

  3. Melissa,
    When Josh was two I asked the pediatrician if I should start potty training. He said, "If you want to, that's fine. And he'll vbe trained by the time he's three. Or you can wait till the month he turns three and do it in three weeks. Up to you."
    I often recall that conversation when potty training comes up. I do think girls might be ready before boys, but I do think it will come in its own time.
    A term Gina uses with Knox is, "What is your body telling you? Do you need to go potty?" One day he answered, "My body isn't saying anything!"
    Even though I understand your reasons for wanting this done right away, if it doesn't happen it's not the end of the world. A little mmore expensive--two in diapers--but manageable.

  4. Well, since I don't have much experience in this subject... wait, I used to babysit a little boy while he was potty-training, but it was a looooong time ago and I don't even remember what happened... so yeah, i don't have much experience.... anyway, so my comment is: Love your new blog's look!!!!!

  5. Hi Melissa! Love your blog (Lanita told me about it). Just to comment - when I was pregnant with #2, I kept reading that #1 might regress after #2 arrived and I SURE didn't want to go through it again (he wasn't being too cooperative). So I decided to just wait, and 6 months or so made ALL the difference. Two in diapers wasn't bad (expensive, but not bad!). It was actually easier and less stressful...good luck - you're a wonderful Mom, BTW!

  6. Thanks for the comments and advice! :)