This weekend was H A R D . On Friday afternoon, Brighten decided she was ready to use the big girl potty. We’d been prepping for a few weeks — we had the Sophia the First and Frozen panties ready to go. She’s been talking about going potty for a while now, but with Grady’s arrival at Christmas, we’ve been delaying until Grady was a little more content. So, on Friday at 4:00 p.m., we jumped all in and decided to run with it.
Brighten has handled every transition with a significant amount of ease. Bottles to sippy cup, formula to milk, crib to toddler bed, only child to big sister — she’s done most of these without many tears or difficulty. Diapers to potty has been an altogether different story.
On the one hand, I blame myself. In my mind we were going to set aside a few days to stay home and learn about the potty, run around naked (her, not me!), and do it the “right” way. But truthfully, I’m not sure when we’ll actually be able to do that. Maybe after school gets out? I work part-time, Jason works 1.5 jobs, and overall we’re just on the go a lot. So while I had this ideal scenario in my mind about when and how we’d potty train, it ended up looking much different.
Last night, I was wholeheartedly regretting my spontaneous decision (and wondering why my 7 wing was creeping up on me now, of all times). After two and a half days of accidents, very few wins, tons of tears, and lots of sprinting to the bathroom, I couldn’t help but hide out in Grady’s room, rocking him to sleep, and wondering how long I could get away with my disappearing act.
While my improptu marathon baby rocking session started out as an escape, I began to listen to my surroundings and take in my view.
On the one hand I had a heavily breathing baby on my shoulder — with sweet sounds and coos. I looked around his room and thought about how just a few months ago, we were carefully selecting photos, shelving, and bedding for his nursery. We were oohing and aahing over the matching curtains and crib skirt that my mom made for him. We were carrying in his dresser, thanking goodness that we didn’t have to put together any furniture from IKEA :)
On the other hand, one room over I heard the splash of my 2.5 year old after a long day that was stretching her, testing my patience, and rearranging our world. Even after quite a bit of defeat and a mom who snapped at her for things out of her control (I did apologize), this little angel still enjoyed her bath time with joy, vigor, and zeal (this is not an exaggeration, this girl loves her bath time!). I could hear her dad talking to her about her bath toys, giving me a break that I very much needed, even though he had work to do and could have completely justified shutting himself in his office to get it done.
As I took some deep breaths to collect myself before leaving the haven of Grady’s nursery to help with bed time, I realized that the worst part about this weekend of potty training was not the lack of understanding on Brighten’s part, but rather the spotlight it was shining on my sin nature. Our weekend had lacked patience and understanding, was void of encouragement (although we did celebrate a lot when she did go potty!), and ultimately was ruled by my compulsion to control and unwillingness to depend on anything other than myself and my own abilities.
So as I made the decision not hide out, but rather to rock a little longer in concentrated prayer and reflection, I asked God to help me be patient, to help Brighten understand, and ultimately to allow this experience to bring us closer to Him. We need Him, all day, every day, in every circumstance. I am modeling behavior to my kids, and when I fail to depend on Him who is able, I teach them that it’s okay to only ask God for help when we think we need it, which is 100% false.
Many times I fall prey to believing that the measurement of my motherhood will be done by how well behaved my children are, how verbal they are, or how quickly they potty train. But ultimately, my goal isn’t to raise kids who have a good vocabulary, and no one’s kids are going to college in diapers, so it’s important to whittle down my actual calling as a mom. Why has God entrusted these tiny humans to Jason and me? The answer is sobering and heavy — to point them to Him in every circumstance and to teach them to love God and love others.
Today is a new day. God gives us new mercies every single morning. We are potty training with more grace today, even amidst the accidents and tears.