Why Potty Training Made Me Sad
I have a confession to make. I didn’t potty train our youngest.
I spent properly focussed time with Chief and Munch when I thought that they were ready. Admittedly I was spurred on by a new-born baby hanging on my breast and a desire and perhaps need to only have one child in nappies. I joked to my husband that the third time round he should take the reins and experience the joys (and other emotions) sparked by encouraging a move away from nappies towards using a toilet. Somewhere in the middle of these jovial conversations our two year old started to make use of the potty gathering dust in the corner. We promised him, maybe more realistically ourselves, that just as soon as the next holiday/ round of school events/ run of busy weekends was over we would help him and together we would crack it.
Suddenly he moved into pull up pants. He called them nappy pants. I’m not entirely sure how it happened. I think it might actually have been an accidental purchase, but he seemed happy. Next he started to choose. Nappy pants one day, real pants the next. I took him to the supermarket where he chose his first ‘proper’ pants. “We’ll start using them soon” I told him. I meant it too. We’ll clear our schedule, we’ll turn down a few invitations, we’ll rearrange diaries to balance medical appointments, parent consultations and life in general so that we can do this together.
I am somewhat ashamed to say it took the best part of a week to realise that he had neither asked for nappy pants, or had any accidents. In fact to date I think he’s only had a couple of missed toilet moments which is pretty good going. And in the middle of this momentous achievement of fledging from nappied toddler to toilet using pre-schooler I missed it. I missed it. I know that to some it is a relief to move away from the nappy changes, and trust me I’m not a fan of them, but I couldn’t help but feel that I’d cheated myself out of experiencing this achievement with him. Much like when you witness them rolling over for the first time. Or when you help them to take their first wobbly steps, decipher their first attempts at real words, watch as they flick mushed up Weetabix across the room in a vague attempt to feed themselves. Mum guilt was really giving it to me. Not only that, but some part of me realises, as I look at a stack of nappies piled precariously in our linen cupboard, that I’ll never go through that again. That the nappy stage is over. Just like that. Without any particular emphasis or observation. Without very much need for my guidance. That we don’t have a toddler dependent on us for almost everything, but instead a very young boy who needs us just as much but in a different way. In a ‘give me some space and please pretend that I did it without any help’ kind of way.
I couldn’t be more proud, of course, and it’s not that I miss the nappies for a second. I look around our living room though, and see the carpet re-emerging from the large selection of chunky plastic toys. The baby mats, bouncers and walkers are all long gone. Almost in their place there is this little pang in the depths of my heart. The one that knows that it’s time to let the baby phase go. The one who recognises that we no longer have a baby, but three increasingly independent young sons. I love them for who they have always been and who they are becoming, but I would dearly love to hold onto these early days for just a little bit longer. One last day with them before they start education. One last moment of brushing their teeth before realising that they are more than capable of managing that task for themselves. One more holding of their hands as we toddle along the street. Just one more. And another one more for good measure.
What achievements have you loved experiencing with your children? I’d love to know how the milestones make you feel! Please drop me a note or comment below.