Potty training ranks pretty high up on my worst things about being a parent list. Potty training Cooper was a long process that had it’s own set of challenges and by the time we finally got things acceptably under control I was completely and utterly exhausted on the potty training front. Everyone told me girls are so much easier to potty train and several of my friends have little girls that are potty training prodigies so I was really, really hopeful. But alas, the stereotype did not hold true for us. Ellen did not self potty train at 18 months nor did she take to it naturally. Instead we found ourselves with an over three-year-old who seemed she might be in diapers forever. Last summer she expressed some interest in the subject, but anytime I tried to implement any sort of method she’d retreat or worse, fight back. I did my best to play it cool, but we were getting to a point where anytime the word potty was even mentioned in her general vicinity, she would fly into a fit of rage. She expressed absolutely no remorse when she urinated on the floor and no amount of sticker charts or bribery could sway her. We even said we would buy her a cat and while she talked endlessly about how she was going to get one, she seemed unmotivated to actually earn one. I’d pretty much given up, but kept trudging on through the screaming, the puddles, and the heaps of dirty laundry.
I’ve sort of grown accustomed to slogging through my parenting journey. Rarely do I get sudden flashes of inspiration on how to get my kids to sleep or eat or behave. It isn’t that there hasn’t been miracles, but they’re the slow, almost imperceptible kind. After months of trying to be optimistically patient and tapping everyone under the sun for advice, I finally surrendered myself to the slog of potty training, and stopped thinking about how many weeks or months or years we had left to go. Then last Monday happened. Ellen woke up and when I asked her to go potty she went to the bathroom without a shred of protest. I was flabbergasted to say the least. Nothing had changed in our approach; I was sure it was a fluke. A few hours later, I cautiously asked her if she needed to go potty. I braced myself for her usual tirade, so when she cheerily ran off to the bathroom I had to pinch myself. Then, later that afternoon she found me and said she needed to “poop in the potty” – something she had previously told me, in so many words, would only happen over her dead body. I tried not to get too excited about it as surely she was playing some sort of practical joke (she can be conniving like that), but it has now been more than a week and she has only had one accident! (We’re not counting nights yet, although she has been dry 6 out of 8.) I have no idea what spurred her sudden change of heart and I’m fully aware that she could regress, but I am just so happy for this bit of divine intervention that put a bit of spring back in my parenting step. I literally have thanked God every night for the last week. After five whole years (six years and eight months if you add up the time each of the kids individually spent in diapers) I’m finally able to put my hardworking cloth diapers away.* Hallelujah!
*In case you were wondering, according to my calculations I saved anywhere between $2,500-$4,500 on diapers depending on which brand you look at and saved around 17,000 diapers from ending up in the landfill.