Boys and Girls
My youngest child, a cuddle-bug with big emotions, just turned two. Today, he peed on the potty for the first time! Cue the party balloons and tissues, we have entered the potty-training phase. Happy Birthday to Mommy!
Honestly, I had no idea how much fear I had in potty-training my second child. My daughter, being a girl, was “the easy one” as I was told by multiple parents with both genders. “Girls are so much easier!” I was told. In contrast, I fought with my daughter for an entire year to commit to the potty. We went through multiple “clean pants recessions” when she simply decided she was done with it. I was exhausted, pregnant or breastfeeding my son through the whole process. I was desperate to have one child in diapers. To no avail.
I can look back at her un-tamable spirit and remember the moment that changed everything. She decided she wanted to wear underpants like all her friends. Pro-tip for every parent and potty training age teacher: Talk about who is wearing underpants. For the rebellious child, peer pressure can aid in their development. It can also ease the sanity of weary parents.
Welcome To Tantrum City
My son, however, does not give a crap (pun intended) about what other people think. It is his way or tantrum city. This is totally normal for toddlers. The world is theirs. It is about them until their brains can fathom the possibility of another perspective. Their brains are not developed enough to conceptualize another perspective. And it makes me mad. I remind myself of this in an attempt to calm down. It works sometimes. Other times, I’m on the bathroom floor begging God to advance his brain enough to stop punching me with all his might. He screams and says “No Spank Finn!” I have created a monster.
I have learned that he does not respond well to spanking. It makes him mad and irrational instead of correcting his behavior. Sometimes I worry I am too weary to find another creative solution. In trying to find grace, I will tell you that I reserve spanking for dangerous situations (like running into the street), but I mess up and spank him when I am overwhelmed. The truth is, parenthood is this awful mess of being too tired to be creative and knowing your kids need you to be your best self so they can become well-adjusted adults. Potty-training brings a whole new mess of frustrations and communication difficulties.
Wins and Spins
If I have learned anything in counseling, it is the power of gratitude and perspective. Much of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression are built from a chemical malfunction and lies we believe. When Christ tells us to believe in Him, we often remove the power of the word “believe.” When we believe in Christ, we are choosing His truth in scripture and presence over the reality we face. I fear potty-training not because I don’t know what will happen, but because I have already chosen to believe the worst will happen. I have not chosen to live each day and learn my son’s cues, but mourn the cleanliness I am about to lose.
We need to spin our accepted fate into God’s truth. He has a plan for a hope and future. Christ will give us grace for today, even on the worst of potty-training days. Instead, I will try to remind myself of the laughter found in awful potty-training stories. The friendships made over our decision to laugh at our mistakes. The absurdity of my child scolding his mother in saying “No Hit Finn!”
We must also keep our eyes on the wins and savor those moments. The more often you and I, as caregivers, can celebrate wins, the more likely we are to be grateful for our children. All parents want to find joy in life. Sometimes, joy comes from hard roads to recovery. Other times, joy comes through the decision to celebrate small wins. I celebrate the first pee tonight. I celebrate my children eating their dinners (which is a big win in our household). Tomorrow will come with its own wins, and we can chose to find joy tonight as we rest in that expectation.