After about 3 months, I think CC is finally now officially potty-trained! We recently took a trip down to So Cal and I’m proud to say that our little boy made it through the car trips there and back diaper-less with not even one accident! Woohoo! Unless you’re a parent, you really can’t understand the joy and pride that swells in your heart when the little one you gave birth to can finally pee and poop in the potty. I know it’s one of those things that every kid eventually learns to do, but there’s something amazing about the fact that YOUR kid learned to do it.
We decided to take the gradual approach instead of the “all-out intensive train your toddler in 2 days” approach. That just seemed a little too stressful for me…and besides we have carpeting. Surprisingly, when it came to peeing in the potty, CC caught on pretty fast. He only had a few accidents and they were all at home. Working on doing #2 in the potty is what took us a long time. Knowing that I would always put a diaper on him for nap times and bedtime, he conveniently waited until those times to poop. I never knew a two-year-old could have so much control over the timing of his bowel movements.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m pregnant again and my hormones are completely out of control or if every parent experiences this, but this last period of potty training was a very very trying time to me. I learned a lot of not-so-good things about myself. I learned that it’s possible for me to get angry and exasperated about something so trivial as the fact that CC refuses to do the deed in the potty. On one particular bad day, I sat with CC while he was on the potty for about 15-20 minutes, cajoling, encouraging, enticing with rewards, with no success…so I put his diaper on and put him down for bed. Two minutes later he called from his room that he needed a diaper change because he had pooped. I can’t begin to describe the anger that welled up in me (and again, I think the hormones have something to do with it) and I’m ashamed to say that I said some not so nice things to my little boy. As I went in to change his diaper, I guess I was a little rough with him because he looked up at me and said, “Mama, don’t push me.”
That’s when I had the realization of what a dangerous and scary thing it is for me to try to raise this little boy in my self and with my natural love. That’s the big lesson I learned from potty training – that I need the Lord’s mercy and grace in every aspect of my experience as a mother. I learned that there are times when my love just can’t make it or bear it and that sometimes it doesn’t even take very much for me to fail. By our actions and speech, we are constantly sowing seeds into our children, seeds either unto the Spirit or unto the flesh. That day I began to realize that having a bad day or raging hormones is not an excuse or license to sow unto the flesh. That day I learned to look my two-year-old in the eyes and genuinely apologize, hoping that he understood enough to forgive me.
It eventually took a couple weeks of putting him in his crib for naps without a diaper (yes, I had to change the sheets a lot), buying special potty toys and special potty cookies, for CC to finally start pooping in the potty. Once again I was baffled by his amazing control over his bowel movements because he went from pooping once a day in the diaper to pooping three or four times a day in the potty. It almost seemed like he could poop whenever he wanted to and he would ration it out so that he could maximize on the number of toys and cookies he got. Now sometimes I get mad at him for wanting to poop too much, especially if it’s in the middle of the night or when he’s supposed to be napping, and I wish he would just do it in his diaper. I know, I know…what kind of crazy mother am I…getting mad at him for pooping in the diaper and now for not pooping in his diaper. I blame it on the crazy pregnancy hormones. Anyways, hormones or no hormones, my hope is that my son will see me not as a perfect mom, but as someone who’s daily learning to live out Christ, even in the smallest and most mundane of things. I hope he won’t just see my exasperation and failures, but that he’ll also see me calling on the Lord and my desperate attempts to turn to the Lord for his sake. Who thought potty training could teach us both so much?