The Last Aboard The Potty Train

March 13, 2019

Oh, y'all. This post is a sensitive one. Vulnerable for a mama who is juggling the balance of trusting her gut and feeling the pressure of societal expectations. I'm writing this post in hopes that just one of you reading will find a little solidarity in your own situation. That it resonates with this season of motherhood, and you learn to trust your gut that much more. Do me a favor, will you? Forget what the "standard" is telling you, believe in your motherly instincts. You've got this. I've got this. Now let's dive in.

At three years and two months old, I wish I could say that I've tackled potty training my daughter. But, the truth is, we haven't. And some days I think it will never happen and I'll be changing her diaper well into high school. Now, I know that's dramatic and not actually going to happen, but I thought it would be easier than this. At least not such a battle. I've always heard girls are a breeze to potty train; it's the boys that are most difficult. Let me tell you right now, that's a lie. At least in my case.

We introduced potty training when our girl was two years and three months old. We were three months away from the due date of our second baby and were determined to have only one child in diapers come June. With as quick as our oldest picks up on things, we felt confident that potty training would be simple, straight-forward, and most of all uncomplicated. We had watched friends with littles close in age to our girl potty train with success. There was nothing that felt like it would be anything but an easy transition.

What began as an exciting adventure to use the big girl potty and wear underwear has now lasted us an entire year. Here we are, 365 days later, with two children in diapers and feeling a little despair at times. I think we have tried every game, form of encouragement, reward system, etc to date. We have offered a toddler potty and the actual toilet with a seat on it. We have watched short videos on using the potty, and we have bribed the heck out of her. There have been days of forgoing the diaper for big girl undies. There have been days of stationing a toddler potty in our family room. There have been lots of M&Ms handed out when we have a win. And there have been a fair share of accidents, including one in the picture frame aisle at Michaels. We get so close, to the point where I'm certain I'll never be putting her in another diaper. Yet, my girl is just not interested in fully committing to the potty. More than that, I don't think she is ready.

I know that sounds absurd to the mom who had her child potty trained at two-and-a-half. It was a hard pill for me to swallow. And it took me a moment to step back from my goals for my daughter to better understand where she's at. It's not that she can't, it's that she just won't. Whatever her reasons are, if she even truly understands them herself, Pete and I are trying to be patient and give her the time she needs to make this big leap in her life.

It's certainly not easy sitting back and waiting on her timing. But, I think we have discovered that it's not happening according to our timeline. That doesn't mean we don't continue to encourage her or that she's given up all together. On the contrary, we are always asking if she needs a potty break. We're still putting her in big girl underwear and handing out M&Ms when she does have a successful potty break. I find myself making up silly songs to motivate her to take a #2. And I sit at her feet and rub her back, make up stories, and everything in between to try to help her poop. I had no idea how comfortable I would be talking about poop until I had a toddler. It's not even a thing at this point. I'm even singing about poop these days. Whatever method she needs to get to the point where's she confident and comfortable to use the potty all the time.

All this toilet talk brings me to my main point - in a sea of parents who have successfully potty trained their child, I'm standing on the edge feeling a little left out with a child who is still not potty trained. And if you're out there standing on the edge with me, you are not alone. Most importantly, you. are. not. failing. your. child. If you are trying your best, giving encouragement, and setting them up to succeed at it, you are doing the very best thing you can.

Instead of letting it make me feel like my diaper-clad three-year-old is a bad reflection on my parenting abilities, I have to rewrite that narrative in my head. My daughter is brilliant, and in each milestone she hits, she has done it on her own time. Take walking for instance....she was so focused on learning to talk that she didn't bother to walk, not even try, until she was 15 months old. She's been running ever since the day she decided she was ready to use her feet to get her around.

Each time she succeeds and does something new for the first time, she blows me away. I know that when she decides she's ready to use a big girl potty and trade in her diapers for princess panties, she's going to be so confident in herself and what she's doing. And I want that for her in every aspect of her life, in every goal she chases and dream she achieves. I think by stepping back and not only trusting myself, that I trust my girl. She knows what she's doing.