Most of us moms approach the task of potty training our children with excitement, fear and a healthy dose of trepidation. It is a rite of passage of sorts for both mom and child. Moving from diapers which provide security (to some degree) and predictability (for the most part), to underwear which require frequent bathroom visits throughout the day, at any location, at any time can be daunting to even the most prepared and optimistic parent.
What other major life accomplishment comes with so many variables? When is your child ready? What time of year is best? How will you proceed? Do you use pull-ups or underwear? Do you reward? Do you go slowly or cold turkey? Does no one know or everyone know? How do you handle accidents? How do you cheer on without criticizing? Do you get older siblings in on the process? What about the well-meaning comments from your friends whose child potty trained in 1.8 days flat? How do you know when your child is trained? Daytime? Nighttime? AAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!
I have a confession to make. I may indeed hold two degrees from an institution of higher learning, but I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO POTTY TRAIN MY BOYS!!!! Seriously, I am a complete failure in this area of physical development. I have absolutely no advice to offer in this department. My oldest son didn’t start using the potty regularly (during the day) until just after his fourth birthday. (Don’t ask me how many years later it was until he was night trained!) My youngest son at this writing, is three years and eight months old and, you guessed it, not potty trained.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, he knows HOW to go potty. He even does so once or twice a day! But not the rest of the time. No amount of cajoling, reminding, pleading, repeating, begging, threatening, bribing, scolding, rewarding, harassing or crying (on my part) would make either of my three and a half year olds actually stop what they were doing to walk to the bathroom and take care of business.
It’s a huge blow to my self-esteem that so many other moms have three year olds who are potty trained. I feel like they look down on me, especially because I’m an “older” mom, like I should somehow know better and why aren’t my kids in underwear yet? I’m a stay-at-home-mom for Pete’s sake! Why is this such a tough part of the job? I’ve read lots of books. I’ve tried lots of strategies. I’ve tried to enlist the help of the pediatrician – by the way, they won’t intervene until age 5. I’ve had confident stages but currently, I’ve given up on the topic. It’s just gonna happen when these boys are darn good and ready. I can’t speed this process up. There isn’t anyone helping me outside the home. And I can’t spend my days cleaning up pee and poop off the kitchen floor that a diaper is designed to do much more effectively.
So when friends ask me, “How’s the potty training going?” I reply, “What potty training?”
How did you potty train your son?