Monday, August 11, 2008
Reddy or Not, Here It Comes
There aren't many things I really HATE about parenting, but two things spring immediately to mind. 1) Sippy cups of milk that mysteriously disappear into the unknown and then suddenly appear days, weeks, months later for you to rip out of your child's hands seconds before they try to suck down the cheese inside, spontaneously causing you to feel like the world's most negligent mother and worst housekeeper at the same time. 2) Potty-training. How can so much pressure, guilt, fear, and dread be contained in one little word? I hate potty-training. I try to laugh it off, roll my eyes and pretend like it's no big deal, but it is. I know for some potty training is a breeze, and for others it is, at worst, a slight annoyance. For me it is something like torture. I don't think any other area of parenting has caused me to shed so many tears, spend so many hours discussing, reading, and worrying. Everyone and their mother has some little tidbit of advice to share. I've probably heard them all. I've probably tried them all. Still, it lurks like a bad tooth, never knowing when it will flare-up again and what will trigger it. Nothing to me carries as much stigma and guilt as being the mother of a child with potty problems.
Some of you may be wondering, "What the heck is she talking about?" A little back story for you. We started potty training Emily when she was about 2 and 1/2. We are still potty training her. That adds up to three years of ups and downs, worry, guilt, fear and second-guesses. I won't go into all the gory details, my 20/20 hindsight, all the things we've tried. Suffice to say, we have a very stubborn, independent child, with two stubborn, inexperienced parents. It was not a good combination in this case. She will go days, weeks with perfect success, then suddenly, for no reason we can figure out, there will be accident after accident, ranging from small smears to major blowouts. And yes, we've talked to the Pediatrician about it.
I try very hard to keep these feelings to myself. Of course I talk to Christoph about it, but I don't want to put the burden of my guilt and frustration on Emily. The feelings are still there though, no matter how hard I try to hide them. I feel so sad that my beautiful little girl, who is so smart and talented and sweet cannot seem to master this basic skill. I feel guilty that somehow I caused this and I am not a capable enough mother to teach her how. I feel frustration that I can't find any helpful answers. I feel angry when some insensitive person makes some useless recommendation as if I'm just not trying hard enough and don't care. I feel alone because I don't know anyone who can really relate.
Maybe you're asking yourself why all this is suddenly coming to the forefront. Well, it's time to start potty training Katrina and I'm scared to death. I've been putting it off, making excuses, procrastinating, but I no longer can. This morning Katrina almost yelled at me, "No more diapers, I want panties!" Before you get too excited, she has still not actually gone in the potty. And she pooped three times today. It's not going to be a miraculous transition. As I cleaned poop off the toilet, the floor, her potty chair, and her, I just wanted to cry and run. Instead, I took pictures of my enemy, the potty chair. Weird, I know, but it did distract me until I could get my feelings under control.