I have a group of girlfriends that get together once a month for dinner. We call ourselves Birthday Club, even though there are only 6 of us so we’re really only celebrating a birthday 50% of the time. However, we are all mothers of children ages 5 and younger, so we deserve a night of freedom once a month.
We always meet at the same Mexican restaurant because they have round tables, a delightful outdoor patio (which doesn’t seem like much of a draw in July, but in October it’s lovely), and most importantly, some of the best queso you will ever eat. Ever. And I won’t embarrass myself by mentioning that I really wanted to order another bowl of it last night, but in the interest of decorum and my thighs,I practiced some self control.
I love these nights because we laugh and talk about everything under the sun. We can range from the serious discussions of fertility and marital issues to equally serious, but not life defining, subjects such as The Bachelor, Grey’s Anatomy, fashion, and chefs on the Food Network who have lollipop heads because they are so dang skinny. Good times indeed.
We usually don’t talk about our kids that much because 1. we’re there to have a break from being a mama and 2. we all have them, so there is really no novelty. However, last night Stephanie mentioned that she is in the process of trying to potty train her little boy.
It brought a collective groan from the crowd.
The rest of us have already been through this soul-draining debacle at least once and so we are all fully aware of what she is about to deal with on a daily basis. The daily struggle of diapers vs. bodily waste on your floor (always the carpet, never the tile) or perhaps even your couch. The gut wrenching decision to let a 2 1/2 year old have a little bit of power over you in the form of deciding they need to go “RIGHT NOW” even though you have a Racecar Cart full of quickly melting groceries on aisle 12 which is the aisle furthest from any restroom.
Oh sure, there are the mothers who will sit in playgroup and tell you with a straight face that little Fielding was potty trained in one day and has never had a problem. I’ll tell y’all the technique those mothers use. LYING. Feel free to use it, but ultimately it will bring you no closer to your goal of helping your child achieve some modicum of social skills in the form of not peeing on the floor at an upscale baby store.
The other story, which is usually told by your well-meaning mother or mother-in-law, is that you or your husband was potty trained at 16 months. Here’s the secret with that one, someone was potty trained. It was the MOTHER who sat that child on the potty every 15 minutes ALL day long. These mothers also had the benefit of raising children in a time when potty training didn’t have to be about unlimited amounts of Skittles as a reward and you could actually punish someone for wetting the floor or the dog, without being told you were going to cause them to be an incontinent sociopath for the rest of their lives.
Here’s the thing about potty training. It is the great equalizer of motherhood. Whether you taught your child to read in the womb or you let them play with bags of glass, you have very little control over when they will decide to not poop in their pants. Even Gwyneth Paltrow and Catherine Zeta-Jones have urine stains somewhere in their homes. Now granted they probably have a Nanny and some high dollar cleanser to clean it with, but it’s there because they have toddlers who will have to learn to use the bathroom.
The greatest story last night was told by my friend Hillary. Her little boy was having a hard time not having accidents, so her pediatrician recommended making a big reward chart. She went to the store, bought a big calendar and some stickers, and told her little boy that if he could be accident free for a week, he could go to the toy store and pick out a new train. They spent the week crossing off days, putting on star stickers, and finally he made it to the one week mark. She took him to the toy store and he picked out his train. She told him how proud she was of him as she paid for the train and as they were walking out of the store hand in hand, he looked up at her and said “Mama, I just pooped in my pants”.
So she took that train and threw it across the parking lot. No, she didn’t. I’m totally kidding. But I promise she wanted to, because I have been there. There is nothing as humbling as a toddler with a little bit of power.