Why is Potty Training so HARD?

Potty training is my least favorite parenting task.  I am now amidst my third time doing it and it has not gotten any less dreadful. Why is it so HARD? Why haven’t I come up with some magic strategy by the third time around? These questions run through my mind as I am trying to keep my patience and my wits about me as the laundry piles up around me. I’ve narrowed it down to 3 undeniable truths.

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#1 I have no control!

No matter how hard you will it to be so, you cannot control another human beings bodily functions. It is impossible.  You can control how many times you take a child to the bathroom, but you cannot make them go. I have seen this truth in full on action, to the extreme.  When we decided it was time to potty train our first born, she decided she was not interested and would instead stop peeing all together.  I am not kidding folks.  She would sit on the potty over and over and over, because we made her do it, but she would not pee.  Sometimes this strong willed angel of ours would go 13, 14, 15 hours without peeing.  We started having concerns about bladder and kidney infections.  The whole ordeal was very stressful for all involved.  But it did make me come to terms with the simple fact that I do not have control of this situation and I need to accept it.

#2 It will happen when the child is ready.

No one goes to college in pull ups.  They figure out all the signs and signals and eventually ditch the pulls ups for the awesome big kid underwear. With my first born, after several months of stress and agony for all involved, we tabled the subject.  We pulled the pull ups out of the closet and said we would give it a try again in a few months.  A month or two later, out of the blue, she stops coloring, tells her grandma she needs to go potty, and does just that.  No prodding, no encouragement, no cues.  All on her own she decided it was time to do it.  Of course the little stinker chose a moment when I was at work to have this epiphany, so I did not get to witness it. I did get over missing the milestone and from that moment on she was good to go as far as the potty was concerned.  My second sweet angel did the same thing.  I decided to stop trying because I was uber pregnant with her little brother and could not handle all the clean-up. As soon as we all adjusted to little brother’s arrival, it took about a week and she was all good with the potty.  I could have stressed and argued our way through it for my last trimester, but who does that really help.  Once again, see #1.

#3 A stressed out frantic Mommy helps no one.

I am a control freak.  I love schedules and planning and order.  My little people do not live in the same universe.  The controlled chaos of our life tests my controlling nature on the daily. But here is the thing, if I am a hot mess of emotional turmoil, everyone suffers. To figure out all the signs and signals and have the light bulb moment that takes us from pulls ups to underwear, they need mommy to be patient.  They need mommy to be calm.  They need mommy to be in control of her own self and her own drama.  The last thing they need is frantic, distraught mommy. See #1 and #2 – it will all work out, mommy stress is unnecessary.

Even knowing that these three facts are absolutely true, my adorable little man is still putting me to the test.  Preschool is barreling down on us. Not to mention, pulls ups are expensive and I am ready to take them out of the budget. I am just ready to be in another season, one where I am not changing poopy pants on the regular. My sweet child is taking his time.  We have moved past the refusal stage, but we are far from the epiphany. I am trying to take a deep breath and remember it will happen.  I am celebrating the little victories, knowing that they will become bigger and bigger.  I am praising God for the quick wash cycle on the washing machine and our two grandmas who bought us all sorts of clothes for our birthday. He will figure it out and I will be there to cheer him on.  We are taking it one day at a time.

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