Two years ago, I potty trained my daughter. She was 26 months, and I had an eight-week-old who was nursing round the clock. Things were touch-and-go, to say the least. We
barely survived, and I vowed that I was not potty training kid #2. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult for a working father to potty train a child while a stay-at-home mom sits around eating her usual bon-bons, so potty training fell to me AGAIN. We are currently two weeks in, and things are going…okay-ish.
I’ve noticed some striking similarities between my two rounds of potty training, and after talking with many, many moms about their potty training journeys, I’ve put together the official progression of thoughts every mom has while potty training:
1. “Oh this will be so fun!” (The first failed attempt.)
It seems like everyone you know is potty training, so now seems like the perfect time! Those tiny little underpants are so cute and you found the most precious little potty that sings a little song. You pick a random day to begin and…ABANDON SHIP! THE HOUSE IS COVERED IN PEE AND TEARS. You throw a diaper back on that booty and pretend like nothing happened. No shame; we all did this. Fast-forward six months.
2. “We’re going to save so much money on diapers. Let’s do this!” (The exuberant beginning.)
After a small dose of reality six months ago, you’ve diligently researched “potty training readiness signs” and are confident now is the time. Potties are strategically placed in every room. You bought more underpants because your kid outgrew the ones you bought the first time. The house is stocked with treats. You’ve got hype music. It’s a party, and the whole house is invited!
3. “Everything is going great! We’ll just burn the house down when we’re done.” (Still smiling as reality hits.)
You’ve had some small successes so you’re feeling pretty great. Far more pee is on your floor than in the potty, but no worries! You celebrate the successes and ignore the failures. Of course, it’s becoming harder to ignore the wet spots in the carpet and that faint smell. Good thing you saved that coupon for a deep clean maid service!
4. “I’m going to need a new washing machine.” (Cracks in the foundation are showing.)
Your once-positive attitude is slowly fading with each new puddle. There are just enough successes to keep going. You’ve come too far to turn around now, but resources are dwindling and surely someone is going to catch dysentery any minute. You did not buy nearly enough underpants or detergent and aren’t quite sure how you’re going to leave the house for provisions.
5. “I have to get out of here.” (Weathered despair.)
You haven’t left the house in three days because that’s what everyone told you to do. No one said those three days would feel like three months. The only thing you’ve looked at for three days is your child and the floor beneath them. Who’s the president now? Do we have flying cars yet? Your hopes of someday leaving the house are quickly crumpled by the soaked pair of pants in your hands and the realization that you’ve made a grievous mistake.
6. “By George, I think he’s got it!” (A glimmer of hope.)
Just as despair had begun to settle in your inmost being, one hour accident-free becomes two hours. Two hours become four hours. He made it to nap time! Could it be? Did it “click?” You excitedly text your husband to share the good news then slip away to fold clothes while your newly potty-trained child plays in the next room…
7. “I spoke too soon.” (Instant regret.)
…the clothes are folded. You proudly skip to the next room with the intention to plant a loving kiss on your big boy when OH WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED IN HERE. Kid: soaked. Floor: soaked. Wall: soaked. You drop to the floor, head in your hands, and silently sob, “This is never going to happen. I’m trapped in this urine-soaked house forever!”
8. “It’s not perfect, but I’m really proud.” (The accomplishment.)
As the days of potty training crawl forward, you realize your expectation of having a fully potty-trained, accident-free child in three days was folly. But you’re okay with it. He’s come so far and is so proud of himself. What are a few accidents here and there? Life must go on. As you re-enter society with your mostly potty-trained kid, you find most people are sympathetic and understanding. It turns out that everyone else has been there. The accidents slow to every few days, then every few weeks. Before you know it, you start to miss the little potty dance you shared and the surprised, proud smile.