Potty Training: Day 6
I've been staring at my twin toddlers' private parts for six whole days now, from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to bed.
The image of my bare-bottomed little boys in our cell-like, madness-inducing, white-tiled bathroom is burned into my dreams.
I find myself in conversation about their bowel movements with the poor woman at the checkout counter. She never asked for our potty progress, but it's all I can manage to talk about, all I can manage to think about.
Six days now, from sun up to sun down, I've been in the bathroom, staring and waiting...
And waiting... And then!
I get just the tiniest bit of pee in the target. This is not a drill. We've officially peed in the potty. And the crowd goes wild! I'm cheering, hugging, and dumping chocolates on this little boys head like it's Gatorade and we just won the championship.
Finally, he's made it in the potty! Finally a little progress. It's a miracle!
So my little champ proudly pulls up his pants, takes a victory walk down the step stool, gladly accepts his chocolate reward, and... finishes peeing in his pants.
"You've got to be kidding me! Spit that candy out." I yell at my cheating little "champ".
"Why did you pee in your pants? You were just RIGHT there on the toilet." Praying, "God, why me?!"
All day long it's a struggle. I can't teach someone how to feel their own body working. It's unteachable! I can't explain this process. I just have to plastic wrap my couches and wait... and stare...
But they're too old for this. What if he doesn't ever get it? I picture my little boy in his cap and gown still wetting his pants and hang my head in defeat.
We would proceed for months and months of this same battle. I'd take a few weeks off to restore my sanity and remind my kids that I'm still there mom, not just a poop-crazed drill sergeant. Until one day they would just casually pick up the concept on their own time, as effortlessly and naturally as turning on a light switch.
I swore to everyone around me: to my family who wondered what the dark circles under my eyes were from, to the pregnant women I'd run into in the diaper aisle at the grocery store, to my mother who I appreciated more for the sainthood she entered from being a mother, I swore that potty training was my VERY LEAST favorite endeavor of parenting.
I hated it. I cringed at my living room furniture. I glared at my kids who weren't on my timing. I HATED POTTY TRAINING. It was the worst chore, the worst task, of parenthood.
The reminding that I needed?
It was so much more than just a chore.
Potty training, hour-long bedtime routines, cross-country car rides, handling tantrums, grocery store terrorizing with toddlers are all so much more than just chores to check off the list.
These chores, the grueling tasks, our lag time, our trials are all small pieces of this wonderful puzzle that is parenthood.
Rushing to finish the whole list of chores, resenting the difficult tasks, wishing away the little moments is keeping me from enjoying the process of putting together this exhilarating billion piece puzzle.
Parenting is in the process, not in the finished product.
Bonding with my kids happens in the spilled milk and getting lost on our family road trips. My kids learn that their mom is their biggest fan in the tiring task of potty training.
It's anything but just another chore, these moments are EVERYTHING.
These moments are sacred for mom.
This day only happens once. I can never get back this lesson. This is my chance to teach them patience and perseverance. Tomorrow they'll be older and know it all. I can never get back the hours and hours of sweet cuddles with my newborn. This stage comes and goes quickly. This is so much more than just another chore.
So Mama, stop multi tasking. Be mindful. Notice their warmth, their laugh, their cuddles, their quirks. Put down the distractions. Give them your full attention. Have fun with it. Soak in every part of this stage. Be present.
These moments are precious to them too.
They'll only have so long to be silly, to fit into that little spot in my lap, to believe in the magical places I'm reading to them about. For them too, this moment will pass too quickly. It is anything but just a bedtime routine, just a snack, just a chore for them.
So get creative. Make it special. Stop rushing them. Take your time on the training. Be patient. Let them be silly. Let them make mistakes. Laugh with them. Make it an adventure. Make it a valuable lesson. Make it fun. Enjoy the process together.
This lesson is most important:
Even in the dirtiest, seemingly impossible, frustratingly difficult, foul smelling, bleach-worthy tasks, it's so much more than just another chore for them and for you.