I am an extremely anxious person by nature. I always have been. When I became a wife my anxiety doubled, and the day I became a Mom I think it must have quintupled. That first glimpse I took of my infant daughter I instantly fell in love, and then only moments later I began to worry – would she sleep? Would she latch? Would we have a secure attachment? I read article upon article that told me what my child may be like and how I could work with each scenario. But as it turned out, she did latch and she also slept, and we were madly in love with each other from the getgo (with some occasional setbacks here and there on all accounts).
Then came teething – would we both survive the pain and infinite outbursts? My friends warned me that it would be Hell on Earth. But, here we are – still living to tell about it. Oh, and let’s not forget sleep training. It was a shit show not because of anything pertaining to my daughter or her schedule, but rather because I couldn’t sleep in the days approaching this first attempt at the modified CIO method her pediatrician had supplied me with. My anxiety was so high; I had been scared out of my mind each time one of my parent friends shared their own horrific experiences. And the millions of articles about how CIO is basically neglect didn’t help either. But soon enough, Charlotte was “trained” (after only two nights) and my worry was all for naught.
Then came time to wean. I was completely beaten down by all the bad experiences I had been warned of over time – the stories of mastitis and women still breastfeeding their children at the age of four because weaning had never been too successful. And then one day, when Charlotte was eleven and a half months old, she just stopped breastfeeding. She wasn’t interested any longer, so she quit cold turkey, and my months of anxiety had once again been a total waste.
And so it went with her waves of picky eating, welcoming her brother home from the hospital, starting school, getting a big girl bed, etc. With each passing milestone, I slowly learned that my rituals of anxiety surrounding them were the absolute worst thing about them all. Each time I had to guide Charlotte through one of these huge accomplishments, I noticed that if I simply allowed things to happen naturally with little intervention on my part, things went a hell of a lot smoother. I’m not saying that it was all perfect, or even enjoyable. What I’m saying is – I’ve learned to trust my own maternal instinct and the fact that I just know my kid. Screw everyone else’s experiences. They aren’t parenting my daughter.
So when C turned two and people started asking me about potty training, I had no answer. I’d know when she told me she was ready. Months went by, if I asked her if she wanted to use the potty, the answer was always a resounding, “No!” And so, I assumed I’d get her out of diapers when the little guy entered the world, and I stopped worrying. Soon enough baby brother arrived, diaper box stacks seemed to be reaching new heights in both children’s bedroom, and I canceled my Amazon size 6 diaper subscription preemptively. I thought, “hey! little guy is in a diaper, big sis won’t want to be in one, too.” I was wrong. But, I didn’t worry.
Then she started school. I figured she’d watch her friends use the potty and want to do the same. Nope. I had to renew my Amazon subscription, and she kept refusing the potty she had received for the holidays four months prior. The school year finished (C had only started attending in late April), and summer session started. I ordered pull-ups instead of diapers this time. Maybe she’d want to be potty trained? My husband was asking non-stop when we’d try to train her. Friends were asking. Family was asking. The pressure was on. But, still – I stood fast and waited until I could sense Charlotte’s readiness.
The day after summer session ended, knowing we had two weeks off before school commenced again, I told her she was going to learn how to pee and poop on the potty. And she said, “OK!” And that was that. I was met with least resistance because she was apparently ready. It wasn’t at three years and three months, this magical deadline people told me she’d hit. And it wasn’t at two and a half, the age people had informed me was “average.”
So, as I started to prep for potty training, I naturally educated myself on some suggested techniques. In the literature I found, I was warned not to use food as a reward if and when she pooped and peed on the potty. I was told to use stickers. I told C she would get a sticker if she used her toilet. She told me, “I don’t like stickers. They rip too easily. I want M ‘n’ M’s.” Ok, fuck stickers then, I said (I mean, not out loud, of course – I wouldn’t want her saying the F*** word… again). M ‘n’ M’s it is.
I also read that I should supply her with her own cute, little toilet. In the end, she was almost fearful of pooping on Minnie’s face (I don’t blame her). After that, we chose a kid’s seat that attached to ours, so she could feel like she was actually learning to use the restroom, and not vegging out in front of the TV and pooping Idiocracy style.
Amidst all the rest of the inane advice, I read I was to strip my daughter naked for three days and make her earn her underwear. I was informed I should not leave the house at all in those three days. I was told to never ask if she had to go, but rather make her attempt to use the toilet every two hours. I was told to reward her on each marked two hour attempt, but never in between (unless she actually goes potty). I was told it would be messy, hard, and likely months would go by until she defecated on the potty.
Amidst training, her only accident occurred on Day #1. But, she also peed in the proper place an infinite amount of times. She was SO proud of herself. We went out to dinner the night of Day #2. I didn’t put her in a pull-up, and she used the restaurant restroom. I stopped rewarding her with M ‘n’ M’s on Day #3, and she stopped reminding me she deserved them. The thrill of being potty trained was enough for her. I listened to her and she listened to me. We collaborated on a very hard lesson.
Fast forward about a year and in retrospect, potty training wasn’t all that messy (a slightly urine-soaked couch never hurt anyone), nor was it painful. All because I said “fuck it” to the warnings, the cautionary tale-tellers, and the rules that have been designed to serve the “average” kid. We waited until we both felt it was the right time, and I trusted my instinct based on my child.
In the end it took her two and a half days to be fully potty trained, and only two weeks later we swapped her out of diapers at night. Since that final ditching of diapers, she has had three accidents total (when she’s just having too much fun to stop and pee ::side eye::). So, what’s my potty training advice/hack? Just listen to your child and go with the flow (pun intended)*.
*Results may vary because kids do, duh. 🙂
(published by ElephantJournal.com on February 25, 2017)
by Amy Chesler
Hi, I’m Amy, and I’m a regular mom.
I don’t Pinterest, my house is generally pretty messy, and my kids’ outfits and hair are often not on point. Most days I’m just keeping it together.
Let’s just say that if motherhood were a sporting event, I’d be the one still tailgating (aka making sure the diaper bag and stroller are properly equipped) in the parking lot twenty-five minutes after the game began.
Oftentimes, I feel like I’m the only one. But then I’ll find myself surfing the “Mommy boards,” and I’ll come across a post that makes me stop and think, “They don’t all have it together like their Instagram makes it seem.”
This inspired me to compile a list of things (in no particular order) that every mom surely has done—but maybe doesn’t always want to admit.
Things that undoubtedly level the playing field of motherhood:
1. Fed your kids a “meal” that wasn’t really a meal at all. I like to call it “child’s charcuterie,” but really it’s just the remnants of what’s left from the last grocery run. Generally it consists of random fruit that escaped getting moldy, a string cheese, and some Goldfish. Voilà, breakfast! I’m not proud of it either, ladies. It is what it is.
2. Forgotten some sort of important event at school. My mom forgot to pick up my brother his first day of third grade. This year, my daughter’s school actually planned her class picture around her attendance (as she was only attending on certain days), and we missed it. Granted, she was sick, but I also totally freaking forgot. We all do it. I’ve heard of forgotten winter pageants, missed parent-teacher conferences and more. It’s a law of parenting: Plan and you shall forget.
3. Cleaned up all kinds of bodily secretions from any number of surfaces, oftentimes all on the same day. ‘Nough said.
4. Reluctantly sat out on an event that you really wanted to go to because you didn’t have, or couldn’t find, or lost your sitter. Que sera, sera.
5. Excitedly sat out on an event that you really didn’t want to go to, and were so glad you had kids as an excuse to escape the doldrums that would have impended. Phew.
6. Lied about your child’s age in order to get free admission to an amusement park. Your grandparents did it, your parents did it, now you’ll do it. It’s part of the circle of life. Also? Why at The Happiest Place on Earth would someone pay $100 to push their heavy ass kid around in a stroller all day? They’re not going to be able to get on half the rides their admission includes anyway. For f*ck’s sake.
7. Not ordered or not cooked yourself your own meal because the ingrates won’t finish all the food they order or you cook anyway. Having kids is expensive, and at times it’s prudent to save money in any way you can. So, vulture away.
8. Made a promise to your child that is emptier than a Ben and Jerry’s carton after a night of binge-eating. You know when your kid says to you, “I don’t wanna put on my shoes! I’m not going to Starbucks!” and the caffeine withdrawal makes you say, “Fine. Then you can stay home by yourself.” Obviously, this is untrue, but sometimes, you have to.
This will only last until she’s five, I know—then she’ll figure me out. I’m enjoying the next year and a half of unquestioned irrationality.
9. Arranged the background of a photo to be more presentable for its online viewers. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I just don’t give a f*ck, but on occasion I see the scattered puzzle pieces and spilled juice and think, “I should pick that up before I take the photo that may end up cute enough to put on holiday cards because I’ll be too lazy to have photos taken when it comes time.” Double phew.
10. Been too lazy to take family photos.
11. Not showered for days at a time. Or if you do, it’s an essentials sort of three-minutes-and-thirty-seven-seconds thing; some bits definitely get neglected. Also, what’s shaving?
12. Posted (or thought about posting) an “Is it too early to drink?” thread. The answer is no, it’s not. Let’s be real: If you’re not driving anywhere, and you know your own healthy limit, have your damn mimosa and enjoy it, too. Earlier, you had to ask on Mommy2Mommy how to wash beet-colored poop off of Himalayan suede, so you’ve earned yourself some bubbly.
13. You’ve had a movie day. And by day, I mean a whole, entire day. Like from wake-up to bedtime. Don’t worry, we all need a break some times.
14. Flipped your wig (or extensions). Rightfully so. Ask anyone who’s mommed before. This sh*t is no effing joke.
15. Relatedly, you’ve daydreamed of ditching it all for warm white sand and cocktails. No laundry, no whining, no cleaning, no preparing lunches, no folding, no family, nothing. Just you, warm water, drinks, food, and maybe your husband when you want some loving. Otherwise, a large, fluffy bed with a down duvet and no human alarm clocks. Le sigh.
16. Written a social media caption that wasn’t entirely truthful. Social media is great for one thing—connecting us. But with that, we often feel the responsibility of keeping things positive 100 percent of the time; no one likes a Negative Nancy. But, can we make room for a Realistic Rachel? Next time you post a photo of your kid eating fish and green beans with the caption, “He just hates junk food, I couldn’t pay him to eat it,” I dare you to be real. I know if I was keeping it a hundred, I’d be sharing something like, “This fool is eating his first vegetable in a week, and I feel like I deserve a standing ovation. Thank you, thank you!”
17. Ignored household duties to Facebook or blog or Instagram or eff off on the internet—because motherhood can be a bit isolating and lonely, and at times the only connection to the outside world is your phone or computer. Sorry, not sorry.
18. Properly diagnosed your child the day his or her symptoms appeared, totally knocking it out of the park as a mom (because, who else knows your child like you do?). Now, you’re thinking, why wouldn’t I want to admit that? Duh. No one likes a braggart.
19. Improperly diagnosed your child with a life-threatening illness (because WebMD).
20. Witnessed one of your own worst habits in your children. Like, when the teacher says, “I see her getting frustrated easily. Let’s work on taking deep breaths and focusing on the task at hand, rather than letting our emotions run away with us?” Yes, Miss Katie.
It’s true—some days we may feel like we’ve knocked it out of the park, and on others like we’ve struck out entirely. But that’s the point: We’re all doing it, so if you’re under the impression that you’re the only one not knocking it out of the park every day, think again.
Your wake-up call is before the crack of dawn,
Because your life is controlled by your cranky spawn.
You feed them, you dress them,
You just can’t impress them.
They aren’t very thankful, yet you love them the same,
Even if they always ask “Why?” and often complain.
You’re housekeeper and driver, tutor and cook,
You keep them in line with one smoldering look.
Tailor, Accountant, Doctor and Baker,
Even do-it-yourself Christmas wreath-maker.
Parenthood is a difficult, never-ending career,
Filling you halfway with love and another part fear.
But despite these complaints and your lack of rest,
Parenthood really is the best of the best.
No feeling can top watching your little tike grow,
Standing by his side while he learns to throw,
Or helping her up when she’s had a big fall,
Teaching them to be kind, proud, and stand tall.
Although Parenthood is a hearty sacrifice,
The payback truly is more than twice as nice.
Seeing the world from a child’s view is priceless,
Even if you’re constantly in diaper crisis.
So when Parenthood has you feeling overdrawn,
Wear a happy face and “keep on keepin’ on,”
Because today’s hurdle may be tomorrow’s success,
And the more love you have, the more you are blessed
Life with a toddler is… special. So special that at times it’s absolutely necessary to stop what you’re doing and confirm that this is, in fact, your reality. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here are seven ways that your life mirrors every other poor sap who has a roommate under the age of four.
1) You’ve had the most asinine, outlandish arguments that you just can’t win, even though you are 1000% correct. For instance, you’ve had to explain to your two and a half year old at least a dozen times that no, she can’t drive to the grocery store or Grammy’s house. Appealing to logic (i.e. “It’s illegal,” “Your feet won’t reach the pedals,” “It’s MY car,” “You’re FUCKING TWO”) just won’t work. Ever.
2) You’ve made a public appearance with your very own caped crusader: Super Girl, Spider-Man, or a makeshift superhero who designed their costume out of a blanket and a robe sash. And said super hero has caused more mischief than solved any social issues. But damn, are they cute.
3) You’ve dealt with about eleven different illnesses in the matter of half that amount of weeks. A day or two after you’ve kicked your cold, croup is knocking on the door. Then a week and a half passes and you’ve been gifted with the flu. Merry bloody Christmas.
4) You have perfectly honed your role playing skills because your little one has requested you bring any and all inanimate objects in your house to life. Your rocker? The seat cushions have told the wildest bedtime stories. Your favorite blanket is actually named Bernie and has thirteen children he’s simultaneously putting through college. The spatula you cooked breakfast with danced the Macarena right after “she” flipped your eggs.
5) You’ve caught yourself saying things that you could never have imagined in a million years if it wasn’t for your toddler’s antics: “No, your poop does NOT belong in the toaster!” “Please eat your food with your fork, not your shoe!” “The cat does NOT want your Legos in her butt!” “Mickey Mouse is NOT allowed to go swimming in your pee-pee!” Or my personal favorite, “Please don’t put your finger in my nose!” Yep. This is very much your life.
6) You’ve been forced to watch the same movie, play the same game, listen to the same song, and read the same story everyday for the last month. It’s safe to say you know every line or strategy by heart. By now, you’re both thoroughly looking forward to and scared shitless of finding out what your child’s next obsessions will become.
7) Even though your days can be difficult and unnerving, your toddler manages to make everything simultaneously much more difficult and simple at the same time. And you wouldn’t have it any other way, because being around someone who is just mastering the English language is the “funnest” ever. Seriously. Who else can you spend an hour discussing poop and farts with?
Yesterday I had a rather impromptu visit from one of my best friends. Let me set the stage first: I’ve been home with my daughter the entire week, and I have rarely changed my clothes, let alone brushed my hair. In walks my glamorous best friend who happened to be in the neighborhood because she was visiting a jeweler that is supplying pieces for the show she is styling for L.A. Fashion Week…. Which seems like an utterly foreign concept to me at this very moment.
She struts in with her gorgeous ensemble, flawless hair, makeup perfectly done, and tons of stories to tell. I listen with rapt attention (except for when baby girl calls for us; then we both turn and play with her). My girlfriend is filling me in on her upcoming few days; pulling and planning outfits for a show in Downtown L.A. to start off L.A. Fashion Week. Oh, and did she mention that she could possibly be visiting India within a couple of days? Sigh.
I am beyond happy for her and God knows I am thrilled to listen. And as I give her my attention, I look down at my sweats (that I have been wearing for three straight days, mind you), noticing a splotch of dried food towards the cuff of my pants. Awesome. I wonder what blob of baby food it is (which reminds me of my favorite line from the movie Baby Mama: “is it poop or is it chocolate?” but I digress). I tune back into the excitement that is my beautiful friend’s life and I am not-so-secretly jealous.
The visit is lovely; I fill her in on my life, which consists of Charlotte, Charlotte, and more Charlotte. Which, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love. She claps and grins and hugs and plays and my heart melts. And then I think of whisking myself away to India on a moment’s notice. L.A. Fashion Week sounds more and more distant, even though it’s about ten miles away.
Oh, and then there’s the girl I graduated high school with, who also had a baby the same day Charlotte was born, who’s hosting her own television show about fashion on E! This chick looks skinnier than she did before she had the baby and is as glamorous as I will ever dream to be. I’m positive she’ll be going to L.A. Fashion Week, too. The closest thing to a fashion show that I will be experiencing any time soon is Carter’s big Spring Sale. And I’m OK with that. In fact, if my days are filled with claps and grins and hugs, then I’m beyond OK with that (albeit a little not-so-secretly jealous).