The reason I'm about to write a potty training update is not because I think a single solitary soul out there cares how successfully my daughter is controlling her bladder and bowel functions at the moment. Well, besides my husband. The look on his face when he's home and I tell him she's in big girl underpants is hilarious, as if he's been handed a loaded gun with an invisible trigger. Anyway, it's really more about marking the dramatic difference in my own anxiety levels and general ability to cope with parenting small children since I started this journey.
Potty training is celebrated as this huge accomplishment and something we're supposed to yearn for. "Oh, I can't wait to have all my kids out of diapers." Me? Not so much. How easy is it to carry a diaper and wipes with you, versus carrying a full change of clothes (you need extra socks, trust me on this) for a child who will, inevitably, inform you with some urgency that they need to use the facilities at the very moment you reach the very furthest point from said facilities. I hear about these people that practice elimination communication from very early ages (Google that), and the ones who eagerly watch their 15 month-olds for signs of potty readiness. More power to them, but that's definitely not my personal approach.
All this to say, I haven't been an enthusiastic potty trainer. When Pacey was three, I'd been hiding behind the fact that "children with Down syndrome often potty train later than their typically developing peers." And he's a boy. Not to mention that he had very little verbal communication at that time and struggled with removing the necessary clothing to use the toilet. Of course, I wasn't actually working towards him being able to do anything of these things either. It was his wonderful, wonderful preschool teachers that gently pushed me in the direction of letting him show us what he could do. I delivered him, clad in the tiniest little boxer briefs you've ever seen, and they took him religiously to the bathroom every 20 minutes. Now, I have a confession to make. Although I gave the appearance of being on board with this and being consistent at home, I TOTALLY WASN'T. I'd dress him in the morning in pants, a Pull-Up and then undies on top because I just couldn't bear the thought of an accident in the carseat. I'd load up the kids, drive the four blocks (literally) to the school, furtively tear the Pull-Up off and present him to his teachers as if he'd been in underwear all morning. Shameful right? Then after daycare, back into Pull-Ups he'd go until the next morning.
Somehow, despite this completely counterproductive approach I was taking, Pacey figured it out and he was pretty much potty trained. Even though he rarely had accidents, my stomach would literally churn when I was out and about with him, fearing that at any moment he'd erupt in a geyser of urine. When he had surgery a few months later and we temporarily put him back in diapers so we wouldn't be dealing with potty issues on top of everything else, I felt unbelievably relieved. Of course I totally shot myself in the foot because I then had to re-train him myself, but the hard work had been done for me.
So anyway, fast forward to now. I've been dragging my feet on potty training Brighton, despite her exhibiting many signs of potty readiness. Trips to the bathroom when we're out and about tend to be a nonstop stream of admonishments (increasing in volume and pitch) from me...don't lay down on the bathroom door, PLEASE DON'T OPEN THE DOOR WHILE I AM STILL USING THE TOILET, don't touch that, don't open that little box, that's enough toilet paper, etc. And logically, the frequency of these trips would (spoiler alert: they have) double with two kids out of diapers.
And you know, it's been a giant pain in the ass, I won't lie. Lots of accidents while she gets the hang of it, lots of setting alarms on my phone to remind ME to remind her, extra laundry, etc. But I've surprised myself in how frequently I've been able to just shrug my shoulders and get on with the inconveniences. She had an accident in her carseat, and no one died. In fact, I didn't even have time to remove the cover and wash/dry it between school runs so you know what? I just threw a towel in there and we survived. We were in McDonalds the other day (don't worry, I only let the kids order from the organic menu) and about halfway through our meal Brighton stood up on her chair and announced with consternation, "Oh no Mama, I SO wet!!" Indeed, she was very wet. Three years ago I'd probably have had a nervous breakdown at that point, but instead I just whisked them off to the bathroom, wiped her down, changed her pants and that was it.
Now, part of this metamorphosis is absolutely the fact that I am no longer juggling a full-time job in addition to everything else. I have the gift of time - time to focus on bladders the size of peas, time to do extra laundry, time to make it a priority. And part of it is undoubtedly the low dose of Zoloft I started taking a couple of years ago. But I also think, dare I say it, that part of it has to do with the fact I'm getting better at this. Better at being a mom, at putting the kids' needs first, at gritting my teeth and just getting on with the messier parts of it all. I'm grateful my kids have been patient with me as I learn.