I am proud to say that both of my children are now successfully potty trained.
Of course, they are 10 and 8, but I’m here to shine a light for any of you moms who are slogging through the potty training trenches. I know it feels like it will never end. But it will happen eventually, even if you, like me, are really terrible at it.
Actually, my daughter was just about potty trained without too much fuss by age 2 1/2.
And then my son was born, and my daughter seemed to need to work out whatever complex emotions she was feeling about this new brother while hiding behind the couch and pooping her pants.
My life, at that time, seemed overly full of poop. Newborn poop, toddler poop, dog poop. I would have sold my soul to get that girl into big kid underwear. And it didn’t help that the preschool she was set to enter kept notifying me that she MUST BE POTTY TRAINED by the time school started.
I tried everything. I offered bribes. I begged. I demonstrated with dolls. I may have even done some tearful pleading in front of my confused toddler.
I am not proud of it, but it’s true.
We tried the thing where she went naked for three days straight while I chased her around with the baby potty she refused to use and cleaned the poop off the carpet and the concrete patio.
We stopped this nonsense after she followed our dog underneath the canopy of our giant spruce tree and they pooped, simultaneously, on opposite sides of the trunk.
Finally, I read somewhere about letting the kid pick out “special undies” with her favorite characters on them. The idea was that she would be so horrified by the idea of soiling Cinderella that she would make it to the potty.
We went to Target, and as we were picking out the inevitable princess undies, she peed on the floor in the aisle (motherhood is really so humbling sometimes). But we made it home, discussed the importance of keeping Cinderella feces free, and I turned her loose to play.
Sure enough, about 30 minutes later, I heard the tell tale grunting. My girl, age 3, came out from behind the couch with a big steaming load in her pants, looked up at me with tragically sad eyes, and said, “Poor Cinderella.”
We made it through. It took longer than I ever imagined, but we managed it before kindergarten, and that felt like success.
When it was my boy’s turn, I wanted nothing to do with potty training but felt obligated to do something. So I put a jar full of skittles on the shelf in the bathroom and told him he could have 2 for poop and 1 for pee, and he got the job done all by himself in a few short months.
I think we can all agree there is a lesson here, and that lesson for all potty training moms is that at least you are better at it than I was. Hang in there.