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...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Words, words, words

Thoughts that keep coming back to me lately, words of "wisdom" for me:

1) When you give a gift, don't expect anything back, including an expression of thanks. This also includes "gifts" of encouragement or just a nice e-mail. If it comes back to you, all the better. If it does not, and you expected it to, what was the value of the gift, anyway? This is a hard one for me but it's important.

2) "Not everything that's true needs to be said". Thanks, Lanita for that's goes against every fiber in my being to keep some things "unsaid" but if I'd live by this one, I'd live much more peacefully with others, I think...

3) "You weren't around when you were young". This one comes from Dad. As in, you don't remember the junk that you did when you were that age. But oh yes, we do...

4) "I need help". Interestingly, this came from the book How to Raise Totally Awesome Kids by Chuck and Jenni Borsellino. I'm realizing more and more how hard it is for me to reach out and admit that as a pregnant mother of a toddler, I am overwhelmed and need help. Emotionally and physically, but I do no one a great service by trying to carry the burden alone. I will seek out more help.

5) Keep it real. In relationships, I hide from the "messy" stuff because it hurts to deal with it. But the more I am open with my feelings, the more I feel accepting of the differences I ineveitably will have at times with others.

6) "What's said during jury duty, stays at jury duty". Thanks, judge for that one. I guess that goes along with #2, so if I'm called in again for a nice juicy case, I will have a tough time with #6 as well. *Sigh*

7) It's okay to find your own rhythm. Taken from Angelica and her Kindermusik teacher, Miss Cindy. Stand when other sit, tap the floor when others tap the drum. Do what you must, but be true to your heart's dictation.

Happy fourth of July weekend!