Would you like to learn the easiest way to potty train your kids? Are you desperately hoping I share my secrets for getting the toddler trained at the youngest age possible? Are you ready to save money on diapers and impress your friends with your child’s brilliance? Well…you came to the wrong place. Sure, I could give you all the insights, tips, and tricks needed to potty train a toddler, but it’d probably be a poor idea to listen to someone who is on month 16 of failed potty training. I theorized on my daughter’s resistance HERE, and then shared the horrifying nightmare of The Naked Weekend (Part I & Part II). Nevertheless, here I am, espousing more words of reflection on the rollercoaster ride of failure we’ve endured.
In case you missed it, my daughter voluntarily started potty training at 15 months. VICTORY! Alas, the progress was short-lived and the diapers returned in a flash. We battled it out for 7 hours with a Naked Weekend with the only thing being achieved was finding daddy’s breaking point. After 15+ accidents on our living room floor, we bailed on the dream of early potty training just in time to watch the toddler vomit all over her crib. She might as well have been throwing up on our hopes and dreams for a urinary prodigy. We’re 16 months into this potty training game; we start, we quit, we start, we quit, we start, we quit…all based on Eliza’s progress. Shortly after The Naked Weekend, my wife and I relented and decided it was only going to move forward with Eliza’s comfort level. No more miracle hacks or pressure. Still, the girl loves to toy with our emotions by randomly begging to use the potty one day only to intentionally run from the potty the next. We’re up, we’re down, and we’ve reluctantly chiseled DIAPERS X 2 GIRLS into our weekly budget. Who needs food?
There’s a lesson buried somewhere amongst the rubble of this adventure my wife and I have experienced, although it’s probably been peed on by my daughter like everything else in this house. Seriously though, there are these bizarre, inherent expectations first-time parents miraculously develop when having their first child. I was committed to being a laid back, old-fashioned, and relaxed father; then, this little 8-pound ball of calamity pops out and I pivot onto the path of weighted expectations and perfection. I had no intention for developing the desire, but I suddenly felt moved by an internal machination to strive for perfection in parenthood. This is, of course, impossible, but it’s funny how the first child typically breeds the most radical efforts. Homemade baby food! Not 5 seconds of television! No sugar until your 16! Talk at 3 months! Walk at 6 months! Potty train at 9 months!
When it’s your first child, it’s difficult not to tie your ability to parent into the varying behavior and development markers. Does an early potty trained child translate into a better parent? Of course not! It’s completely irrelevant what age my girl accomplishes what feat in how successful I am as a parent, but that really didn’t stop my wife and I from proceeding as if every moment our License to Parent hung in the balance. I’d like to think that this is common amongst first-time parents; all of the sudden, you have this little human you created depending on you and your ability to provide, guide, and love. It’s a game-changer and I think most parents can relate to the added pressures of the first child. We’re four months into daughter #2, but I can already tell that we’ve reconciled many of our insecurities and stresses. We’re not throwing in the towel on Miss Everly, but I believe we strike a finer balance of intentional parenting and subdued grace.
After all the anxiety and pressure we briefly experienced at the outset of potty training, we breathe easy now knowing that an untrained 2.5 year old is not a condemnation on our abilities to parent. It turns out that I don’t love Eliza any less because she’s choosing not to train right now, she doesn’t resent her mom and I for not moving her forward faster, and we’re not actually lesser parents when she misses a milestone. My wife and I care (almost to a fault), but I’m happy to report that we no longer panic (hmm…perhaps panic less is more accurate) about class ranks, growth percentiles, milestone markers, and yes, even potty training. If Eliza wants, she can wear diapers right into high school. That should keep the boys away, which sounds like a win in daddy’s eyes.