Potty Training. That was my first eye opener/crash course in what it means to actually be a parent. Before this moment in our families life we were just parents who provided love and care. Discipline, consequences and consistency were really not topics that came up that often. Besides training our children to sleep on their own and to be gentle. these topics just weren’t discussed often. And we thought we were the worlds most amazing parents sent to earth! We probably were. All it took to knock over our pedestal was a nice little 3 day potty training experience with our 22 month old son.
He did awesome, at first. Day one was all accidents but I was prepared for that. My mom was over and my daughter was looked after by her. I was just my sons shadow. The end of Day One he said he had to pee and did it!!! Day two was a mixture of accidents and successes. Day three it had stuck! We deserved a medal! We were amazing. We did it! We trained our 22 month old son in 3 days. No more diapers. No pull-ups. Rewards were jelly beans for number one and a special dollar store car for number 2. We were still the worlds most amazing parents. Then came Day 8.
Some times I dream about life before “Day 8”. Before “Day 8” I was patient, kind, understanding, a go with the flow kind of parent. Most of all. I was never hot headed. I never lost my cool. oh how I wish I could rewind life and go back to do “Day 8” all over again. Here is why.
I am surprised the neighbors didn’t come over to check and see what happened. I am shocked my husband didn’t hear me all the way from his office, which is a 5 minute drive away. I exploded. I was furious. I was embarrassingly mad. I was a horrible mother/person/human being. It all began when I had a day off from my in-home job and decided to take my 6 month old and my 22 month recently potty trained son out to run errands. He woke up with dry under wear but proceeded to pee on his carpet in his room. We quickly rushed him to the potty where he got a few drops in. after cleaning that all up we made our way down stairs to have breakfast. during breakfast he decided it was too delicious to bother going on the potty and went number 2 in his booster seat! Delightful! Thanks buddy. I calmly cleaned up that mess and secretly told myself that at least we got his BM out of the way for the day. So I thought. Well with new clothes on and a new plastered smile we loaded into the van. I was too busy cleaning up after my son to get myself breakfast so we made a stop at Timmy’s and were on our way. With coffee in hand, I loaded up my children into our double stroller, after parked in my usual spot, where I was half way in between all the stores I wanted to shop at. We made it successfully through 2 stores and there was just one more on my list. It had been a while since he had used the potty so in this store we went straight to the bathroom. I lead by example hoping he would quickly want to follow suit. After putting up a huge fit and squeezing his legs together and planking his body, I decided this was not worth it. So we ventured out. As I was deciding which books I wanted to purchase and My little lion cubs were happily playing at the courtesy train table (I bet you know where I am now. You may have even been there and heard our whole incident.) It happened.
All over the floor and all down his pants and in his shoes. It was like he had been saving a weeks worth of pee! Now looking back it was kind of impressive. I scooped him up and shoved his planking body and tried to put him into the stroller. He was screaming at the top of his lungs. He was soaked. I carried him instead of trying to win the stroller battle and left the puddle on the floor. (Don’t worry I told someone who worked there). I am not sure why I still proceeded to make my way to the check out and purchase the books. But I did. I dragged my kicking and screaming and soaking wet son up to the register and in between is gasps for air told the lady no bag was needed and yes I have a discount card. To make matters worse. As I was holding him and he was using all this muscles to scream that also meant that he now had something else coming out of his pants and all over my clothes! Deep breath.
I ran out of the book store with books and toddler in one arm and stroller being pushed by my other. I made my way to the van and opened the trunk where I planned to create a changing station since my back seats were folded down. I stripped down my filthy son, after putting my baby in her car seat, and found an extra pair of everything for him to wear. (I keep 3 outfits and an extra pair of shoes in the van) I was livid, embarrassed, covered in crap and exhausted. I felt defeated. I thought he was potty trained? I thought that if i put the hard work in for those three days and if he caught on like he did, then I would never have to worry about it again. I was wrong. I Got into the car and opened all the windows so I wouldn’t have to smell myself (because of course i had no change of clothes). I took a deep breath and prayed. I prayed that God would help me to see the bigger picture. I prayed that God would remind me of the sweet little boy He sees when He looks at my son. I needed to see this whole situation through Gods eyes because mine were tainted (brown).
I wish this story ended here. I wish this story ended where I was turning to God for help. Where I was taking deep breaths and keeping my cool. But it doesn’t.
We arrived home and I unloaded the sleeping baby and the exhausted toddler. I brought my little innocent baby girl up to bed and came back down to feed my son lunch. Lunch was uneventful. Food was eaten and not much was said. As soon as I took him down from his booster seat at the table he peed all over the dining room floor. Seriously??!! Are you kidding me. I took off his pants and went to the laundry room to find him some more underwear. When I came back he was nowhere to be found. I went looking for him and quietly called his name. What I found would proceed to be the camel that broke this mamas back! I found my little lion cub half way up, our now poo covered stairs, on his way to bed. I yelled. I freaked out. I did not seek for Gods peace and understanding. I was way to selfishly mad to think about anyone else but myself. I grabbed that poor little boy and took him upstairs to the bath tub and in a not very gentle way washed him off as he sat their teary eyed listening to me tell him how disappointed and upset I was at him. I put him in a diaper and brought him to his bed and told him to have a nap. I closed his door and then grabbed my cleaners and started the lovely job of cleaning off crap from my carpeted stairs.
As I sat there cleaning up my sons mess in silence, I could hear his soft sobbing coming from his room. At first that sound made me angry. I mean, what did he actually have to be sad about. I was the one cleaning up the mess. He was the one who now gets to have a nap. With the cleaning job completed my heart started to melt. I started to think about how scared and alone and confused he must have felt and how my anger really only briefly satisfied me. Now that I wasn’t focused on me, I started to hear what God was trying to teach me.
I think I am finally able to write about this now, because even though it has been 4 months since we started training him and he is just finally getting it now, now i am starting to see the end. I am starting to stop believing the lies that I will have to be telling him to “tell mommy when you need to use the potty” until the day he leaves for collage. I am seeing the fruits of my labor. I learned so much about myself just from potty training my son. I learned that I am really not as patient as I thought. I learned that I get angry and frustrated really fast. I learned that I am a way better parent when I am looking at my children through Gods eyes. I learned that my children thrive when I am listening to God and what He wants from me.
In some ways I am thankful from Day 8. Day 8, forced me to be a better parent. Day 8 also knocked me off my high horse. I lived for 22 months and 7 days thinking that I was the best mother ever. Now, I am living an honest life. I am living a more humble life. I am living a life where I seek God in absolutely everything and every area!
My prayer is that you find your own Day 8. And when you do. Embrace the lessons and guidance that come with it. Apply them in your every day. I also ask that you share your own Day 8 with other parents. We are all only humans raising humans the best we can. We need help from God and we need help from our own villages around us. Encourage each other. Learn from each other. But most of all, Love each other.
-a humbled Lioness