Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Girl Likes to Potty All the Time

Two nights ago I closed the fridge door, leaned my head on it, and cried. The kinds of tears where I worry about waking up Jenny, so I go stand in the pantry, which ends up being kinda smart because it made me feel like an idiot to stand in the pantry and cry, so I stopped right away. It was the end of Potty Training Day One – Jellybean Mama Learns Once Again that Parenting is Hard.

I made so many mistakes Sunday I don’t know where to start. Stupid Potty Training in One Day. Spending an entire day trapped in my kitchen definitely did not work for us. Part of the failure (mine) was that I got lax and let her go play with toys (I don't understand how anyone keeps a toddler entertained in one room that long), then didn’t remind her to try to potty in a consistent manner when she was preoccupied. I didn’t expect it to be so damn exhausting. The constant mindless potty chatter – ugh. Who can fake that level of concern and excitement about having dry pants for hours on end? People talk about how it’s a great bonding experience – LIARS. It was torture. Just when it seemed like she was starting to get it (I thought I might scream from joy and relief when she did, eventually, go to the potty on her own), nap happened. And then – all was undone. Nothing else in the potty at all the rest of the evening. All in pair after pair of cute character-themed underpants.

Potty training is HARD. And sometimes, kinda cute and funny.

It wasn’t even the pee cleanup that got to me. It was the disappointment and frustration that, after 7 hours of doing nothing else, there was something either I had done wrong or that she was incapable of, and it was unbearable. Poor Jenny, doing practice potty runs and sobbing in her wet pants, asking, ‘Happy, mama?’. What was the right answer? Before this experience I couldn’t fathom how a mother could spank or slap a child who soiled themselves (as the book I was following advised against. Like, really?). After the past few days, I could totally see how they could get to that point – it’s impossible to explain that combination of wanting to shake a child, run away from it all, and scoop them up in your arms, all at the same time. I knew she understood the whole thing, but somehow it wasn’t sticking, and that made me crazy. CRAZY.

It’s hard being a Type-A personality and a mom. I like to set goals and accomplish them. I absolutely set expectations way too high and end up crushed, time after time. Setting goals as a mother does not mean accomplishing those goals. It means compromising them, and being happy with incomplete and imperfect, and adjusting as you go along. So yesterday I did just that. I took a personal day from work, and after a good night’s sleep I tried again. Yesterday I did it my way, instead of the way it worked for someone else, and guess what? It worked WAY better for me and my poor little Bean. There were no tears. There was no impatient snapping or grabbing or shouting.

Potty Training Take Two – Electric Bugaloo

Apparently, not all children are alike. What works for one does not necessarily work for another. Who knew? While Potty Training in One Day made us both miserable, the old school put-‘em-on-the-potty-every-1/2-hour (which I previously thought would have made us miserable and crazy) was a massive success. Not a single accident all day. The crazy thing was, I did not do any of the rewards that I did on the weekend. Sunday she got M&Ms for dry pants and using the potty, chips and special drinks and stickers and tattoos. Yesterday she got diluted juice and hugs and high-fives, and was utterly happy. Sunday I sat with her and read books and the potty chair sang to her. Yesterday she was so preoccupied with trying to go that she didn’t even get up when she’d peed; I was, of course, doing laundry and only realized she’d gone because of the little grin she got when she said, ‘Ok, mama, I’ll try!’ (she’s so sly – she really meant, ‘Ok, crazy lady, I’ll pacify you, but I’ve already gone and done it, so there!’).

It ended up being a great day. We were totally daring and went to Wal-Mart for pull-ups and milk (ended up with powdered donuts and more Thomas pajamas, how does that happen?). She did awesome in the car. We played in her pool when we got home. We had a good lunch. We made Banana Nut Muffins. We watched some Wonder Pets. There were no tantrums, and my back hurt considerably less (seriously, I’m too old to be sitting on my concrete slab kitchen floor for 6 hours). She didn’t want to put on pull-ups for nap, it was very cute. When I got her up this morning I put her on the potty and she peed. My caregiver just called to tell me she'd already gone, on the potty, THREE TIMES. Oh, the pride. Oh, the sweet relief.

I’m lucky I’ve got a great caregiver who will continue to work with her, and will put off her own stuff so that she can spend the time at home this week with Jelly. Dudes, seriously, I underestimated this one. Sure, I’d heard the horror stories and know kids who have been ‘in progress’ for like 2 years. But, you know. We all secretly think we're an awesome supermom. And of course, Jenny is the Amazing Jellybean. Oh, motherhood, why do you have to teach me this lesson over and over? Why must I constantly be smacked down and humbled? You’d think at some point I’d learn. Yes, I do know deep down that Jelly is not the perfect child. I just have a hard time remembering when she’s so darn, well, awesome. I have GOT to get a grip on this expectations thing though. It’s unfair to her and it’s stupidly stressful for me. And I have a feeling it will only get worse as she gets older. School, you know. God forbid she actually participate in competitive sports.

Just like in Ever After and everything else with this parenting thing, I have to remember to Just. Breathe. I have to remember that a lot of this is a grey area, but if it feels wrong I should do something different, and that’s ok. I need to sometimes let Jenny lead, and sometimes I need to follow the rules, and more often than not we need to work together to forge our own path. It helps that she's a 'pleaser', but I need to remember that she'll put extra pressure on herself without my help, and I ought to start helping her manage that now. I could tell she was concerned about getting in the car to go to Miss D's house this morning, not wanting to get off the potty because she hadn't gone one more time. Poor little thing balled up her fists and went red in the face pushing. I was like, 'Dude, it's ok, I swear'.

I think in the end it was a combination of the incredibly intense day Sunday and then the constant reminders yesterday (that and the fact that she decided she really liked wearing big-girl-underpants, and has never liked having a wet diaper, even when she was 2 freaking months old). If I could give one single piece of advice I would tell people to start practicing pulling underpants up and down at least a few weeks in advance; to be honest, I didn't think she could do that before now and I feel like a jerk for being so lazy. I'm excited to see how she does the rest of this week, and how she copes with accidents. It will also be interesting next weekend when we're out and about, to deal with the public pee.

Thinking about it...
Congratulations, big-girl Jellybean. Mama is so proud of you.


Shannon said...

"Yesterday I did it my way, instead of the way it worked for someone else, and guess what? It worked WAY better for me and my poor little Bean."

Love this! It's so great that you were able to find something that worked, though it stinks that you had to have such a miserable day to figure it out. I'm totally saving this post for the someday when I have a little one to be potty training myself.

Have you ever done a post about how you found your caregiver? If not, I'd love to hear how you did it!

Stephanie said...

I love this! One, I'm glad that the experience got better. Potty training in one day? What, were those kids 7?

But I especially loved:

"...it’s impossible to explain that combination of wanting to shake a child, run away from it all, and scoop them up in your arms, all at the same time..."

No, I think that was a perfect explanation, actually.

"Oh, motherhood, why do you have to teach me this lesson over and over? Why must I constantly be smacked down and humbled? You’d think at some point I’d learn.

If you learn it, will you let me know the secret? I tried to force feed Elliot some pasta salad the other day. Did it work? No, but at least he didn't bite me like Zach did when I did the same thing to him. At the same age.

What did Einstein say about insanity? It's "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Color me insane, then.

Barb said...

Oh my. This ws such an incredibly perfectly timed post for my own life. Sam and I have been doing a few days of potty training and some days go better than others, but during all this "development" he's decided to stop sleeping which means mommy doesn't sleep which means pregnant, hormonal mommy had a breakdown and sobbed against the refrigerator... and then immediately wondered how much seeing that had traumatized my son who patted me on the head and said "Sorry mommy. Sorry mommy." I can so relate to so much in this post.... the initial desire to control and belief that it won't be so bad followed by the frustration and humbling experience of everything that is related to parenting. I love the line about type A's and motherhood. Thanks for always making me laugh and always making me feel better... or at least a little less insane. :)

MommieV said...

Yes. All of the above.

"Setting goals as a mother does not mean accomplishing those goals."

Wooo, boy, I'm glad they don't give a Type-A test to mommies cuz ... well, it's bad here.

"I could totally see how they could get to that point – it’s impossible to explain that combination of wanting to shake a child, run away from it all, and scoop them up in your arms, all at the same time."

It's impossible to explain it, but as you write this, my head is about to fall off from bobbing "yes".

Thank you, thank you, thank you, I needed this. We are a year behind you guys, so no PT here, just the screeching demands of a newly independent walking, shrieking, screeching (did I mention screeching?) toddler.

I'll come back and read this in a year when we do it. LOVE the Dora panties!

The Ta said...

Look at that bare butt. Too cute.

Happy the old school training worked!

Beau brought me to tears training him... and he's a dog!

Laraf123 said...

I am having a difficult time potty training my son. It is 99% my fault as I am not consistent and I started too late. (He does not mind soiled diapers one bit.)

I also worry about stressing out my son with "my stuff"--and I already see signs that he is overwhelmed emotionally by the demands of his 3 year old world. Oh, parenting well is so,so difficult. Terrifying. Mind-boggling and crucial.

Thanks for posting this--helps me feel less alone.

Anonymous said...

I wanna fuck dat cute little booty

dpp said...

Her bum is so cute and soft