If you ask a group of moms what they dislike most about parenting, the answers will be varied. Some will say temper tantrums, eye rolling or Disney channel programming. Others will scoff at the the early mornings, diaper changes at 2 am and never ending loads of laundry. You will hear sorry tales of ignored hair roots, sagging boobs and midsections that resemble Play Doh. Playgroups from H-E-double hockey sticks. Mean moms. SpongeBob. Moms could go on and on. So many things make mothering hard and it's often difficult for us to agree as to which one thing makes being a mom the most intolerable.
Until we mention potty training.
And then there is a universal cry: moms loathe potty training.
Go ahead. Say the words "potty training" to the mom next to you. I will bet $100 that those two words will be met with an eye roll, a groan and an immediate declaration of how much she hates potty training a toddler.
I loathed potty training. Both times.
When you are gearing up to take on the task of teaching a toddler not to drop his load into the plastic receptacle he's sporting, everyone has advice. Everyone knows how to get a toddler to decide that today is the day that she will no longer feel that the golden trickle running down her leg is socially acceptable. You will barely get the words, "I'm going to start potty training my little gumdrop" out of your mouth before another mother is telling you exactly how to get Gumdrop to drop her gummies into the toilet.
People will tell you to plop the training toddler on the toilet every 3o minutes. You are advised to cover every fabric surface in your family room with shower curtains because accidents are likely. You are forced to become a slave to a bladder that is approximately the size of a prune and a toddler who drinks more water than the Hoover Dam. Your family room couch starts to smell perpetually of the mixed scent of Lysol and urine. Your bare feet seem to know exactly how to find the one wet spot on the carpet every single time. Phrases like "I sorry, Mommy, I piddled" and "I tried, Daddy, I did. But I's watching SpongeBob." almost make you lose your mind. And you begin to hate the smell of Totally Toddler.
A week into potty training, you are ready to burn your couch to the ground and the idea of just letting them wear a diaper to college doesn't seem that idiotic.
Loathed it, I tell you.
After a week or so of self imposed house arrest with the toddler terrorist and their bladder, you start to feel confident that you might be able to risk leaving the house to do a few errands. You start to calculate how far the grocery store is and whether or not the prune bladder can make it to the cereal aisle. You gather up the nerve to strap the toddler into the car seat, with a beach towel tucked under them just in case, to see the light of day for a few minutes.
But then you realize that you might have to take that training toddler into a public restroom.
And then the idea of staying in your house near your bathroom until they are in college doesn't seem that idiotic, either.
When I potty trained the Fruit Loops, I drew the line at the public restroom fiasco. No frigging way was I taking a toddler with a penchant to touch all the things into a stall at Target. No way, Jose. And I was most certainly NOT going to carry one of these little portable gizmos in my bag to make it more sanitary. Because eeewwwwww. And because gross. And because no way, bitchacho.
I refused to go on the Restroom Tour of America that all of my mom friends warned me about. I did not have the patience, the desire or nearly enough vodka to be able to handle a 45 minute visit to a WalMart throne recently vacated by someone with Ebola. And, not for nothing: those stalls are small and I'm claustrophobic.
And so, in order to preserve my sanity and to make potty training easier, I told the Fruit Loops that bathrooms didn't exist outside of our house.
OH, YES I DID.
And I don't care if you judge me.
It needs to be said, however, that I did not make the Fruit Loops go on seventeen errands and do yogic bladder maneuvers until we got home. In the beginning, I planned my errands so that we were very local and could rush home if necessary. As time wore on and their prune bladders became stronger, I just pretended there were no bathrooms in all of the shopping world. I remained firm: go before we leave or hold it till we get home, Pruney. And, since toddlers can't read and Mommies don't lie, they believed me (if you really believe that moms don't lie, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn...ahem).
And the lying worked. For a really long time. I was spared the indignity of seeing my cherubs put their hands in the airport tampon receptacle. No cringing as they put their hands in their mouths after flushing a public toilet. And I didn't have to pass out when they stuck their hands in the toilet water of a gas station bathroom. Of course, they did all these things at home but at least it was with germs I was on okay terms with. We didn't see the inside of a public restroom for a solid two years. All because I lied.
I boldfaced lied and I'd do it all over again. Because potty training is hard and a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do. Self preservation is the name of the potty training game, people, and I knew my limits.
I wish you could have have been there when the jig was up and the Fruit Loops found out that restrooms really did exist beyond the confines of our home, though.
The look on their faces would have made you pee your pants....