“Is she potty trained?”
“Because we do require that all of our students are able to use the restroom on their own.”
As if I needed one more reason to panic over my daughters refusal to use the potty. And how in the world did pre-school registration time come around so fast! I feel like it was just yesterday that I was celebrating her move to size 1 diapers. Seriously… Where does the time go?!
Now, full disclosure: There are a lot of days that I have spent counting down to the two and half hours…150 minutes…9,000 seconds…that I will get to spend by myself while she’s in preschool. Actually, double that, because preschool is two days a week! I don’t think I’ve had five hours to myself since before my Bella was born. That’s two years and ten months of being constantly needed, constantly touched, constantly giving, constantly taking care of a sticky, sometimes smelly, always stubborn little princess.
And BOY is she a princess.
She’s not your typical high maintenance princess type, though. Some days she's a Merida in Brave type princess; running around outside in the mud collecting sticks, rocks and bugs and jumping in puddles. Then other days she’s more like Amber from Sophia the First; wants to wear a pretty dress with fancy shoes and acts like she is allergic to dirt. However, the part of both princess types that comes with the expectation of being listened to without question, getting everything that you want, and only doing what you want when you want to do it… That part she’s mastered.
Especially when it comes to the potty.
When my little was only eighteen months old, she had me convinced she was going to potty train early: She was watching a friends little one potty train and decided that she wanted to sit on the potty too. Well, that turned into a decision to only poop on the potty, because she didn’t want it in her diaper. So, for a solid three months she would poop on the potty, while my husband and I continually tried to get her to pee on the potty too.
Turns out the joke was on us! Just as quickly as she decided that she wanted to use the potty, she decided she didn’t want to anymore. So, I got desperate and started reading every article I could find on potty training methods…and tried them all. I rearranged my house, I bought her big girl undies, I made her run around naked, I set an alarm and made her sit on the potty every 15 minutes, I bribed her with snacks and toys and activities… The more methods I tried, the more frustrated we both got and the harder she dug in and insisted on not doing it.
That’s when I came across an article that basically said I had done everything wrong.
I felt discouraged, guilty, frustrated, completely defeated… The little voice in my head was whispering that I had ruined my daughters confidence and permanently set her development back. I spent days beating myself up over the mother I had become in the weeks that I was neurotically trying every potty training method I could find. Then, when the whispers reached the point of convincing me that I had failed as a mom and that my daughter would hate me forever for all the moments I raised my voice at her over something as silly as not peeing on the potty… I remembered that my baby was still a baby. And I made the decision to simply let her be.
For better or worse, that’s the decision that has left me in the position of telling the preschool registrar that, no, my now almost three year old is not using the potty on her own. I don’t need to tell you the rest of the conversation; or the pressure that it’s made me feel that my daughter needs to be potty trained in less than seven months. I mean, I can’t be the only mom that has had this conversation…can I??
I seriously doubt it.
The temptation to jump right into it and start making my super active little princess sit on the potty every fifteen minutes until she pees is strong, I’m not going to lie! I know, though, that my babe is very strong willed, independent, stubborn and intelligent. Everything in her entire life has happened in her timing and on her terms: eating, rolling, crawling, walking, talking. In my heart, I know that this not going to happen any differently. She is going to have to decide that she wants to do it.
I’ve been realizing in the past several weeks that my baby is no longer a baby. She no longer needs me in quite the same way; and when she does need me, it’s not nearly as often. And when I look back at the decision I made to not push her toward potty training, letting her simply live her life and experience the joy of being a kid without the pressure of big expectations; I wouldn’t change my choice for all the world.
Is changing pull-ups (or as she calls them: “special undies”) getting old? and really disgusting at times? Absolutely, yes! No question. Yet, the time I’ve given her to grow into herself and learn to relate to people rather than to people’s expectations of her, is something I will never regret. No matter what the negative whispers say when they come, I believe in my heart that I made the right choice.
Because when my beautiful girl is excited or talkative or curious or lonely or hurting- I am the one that she comes to. I am the shoulder she cries on, the lap she sits on and the chest she lays on. And if I’m not around, she has developed a confidence and a boldness to communicate exactly what she is feeling and why she is feeling that way.
I know that I am no where even close to figuring out this whole mom thing. I also know that it’s only by the grace of God that my little is growing into the best parts of me and the best parts of my husband, in spite of the innumerable mistakes that we make. But if I can be so bold as to give one piece of advice to my fellow moms…
Let your babies be babies.
They won’t be so little forever. The eating solid food, rolling, crawling, walking, talking and using the potty on their own will happen in spite of your attempts to make it and simply because of who your babies are. Babies will grow up no matter what, so why not let it be at their own pace and in their own time so that when they step into the next stage, they step with boldness and confidence in who they are and what they know they are ready to accomplish?
Just a thought from a mom in the thick of navigating toddlerhood with a little who is growing up awesome.