This picture of Pepper climbing into the car; bare butt naked showed up in my memories from a year ago. We were in the thick of potty training. We had peeing in the potty down, but pooping took a little longer. On this day I had taken Pepper to Locomotion (an inflatable bounce house place) to play.
We were there for maybe 30 minutes playing and having fun and then she crapped her pants. Like, epically crapped her pants. I had to throw away everything she was wearing on the bottom and we immediately left. I yelled at her the whole way home; she was in tears. As soon as we got home I put her in time out in her room for a good while. After the fact; I realized I approached the situation completely wrong. I was frustrated; tired of accidents happening, tired of us “fighting each other.”
Key word: accidents. In retrospect I don’t think the multiple times she pooped in her pants was on purpose or to intentionally piss me off. She was legitimately scared of pooping in the potty; or at least she had a mental block regarding it. However, in the thick of it I didn’t see it that way.
I tell people all the time that potty training has been the hardest part of parenting up to this point. Unfortunately I realize now that I am the one who made it hard. A strong-willed mother and an even stronger-willed child trying to each control a situation that cannot be controlled just didn’t work. I was a frustrated wife; a pissed off mother – I hated the way I felt inside. I don’t like carrying around negative energy like that in my life.
After many times of venting to my bestfriend Amanda, she finally told me one day that I needed to sit down and write a letter to myself. She said to let go of the control, to write everything I felt on paper, to sign and date it and promise I would stop trying to control something I couldn’t. So I did. And it truly helped lift the weight off my shoulders. I’d love to say it helped Pepper poop in the potty – but it wasn’t that magical. It finally took her staying the weekend with my mom and having a heart to heart with her to be fully potty trained. I think it helped for her to have someone who hadn’t been frustrated and angry for several months help her be comfortable doing what she needed to do.
I showed this picture to Pepper this morning and asked her if she remembered this day. I said, “I’m sorry for yelling at you that day and putting you in time out. It wasn’t your fault.” She looked at me with a sad face, walked over to me and gave me a hug. I don’t know if she really remembered that day or not, but I felt like it was important for me to apologize for not being more patient and understanding. I’d love to tell you this was the only potty training incident where I lost my mind and got angry and handled it all wrong, but it wasn’t.
I wonder how many of us walk around frustrated, full of negative energy trying to control certain situations in our lives that are simply out of our control. It’s a terrible feeling. Perhaps it would help to write a letter to yourself stating that you are going to let go of whatever situation is causing you to be unhappy, stressed, frustrated. Get all of your feelings out, let go, sign and date it and go back to it every day if it helps remind you to relax.
And if you’re in thick of potty training, well – may the Lord be with you. Take a note from my mistakes: less control, more patience, zero shaming when it comes to your child, don’t fight it, patience, patience and more patience. And if you’re in the thick of trying to control an uncontrollable situation in your life the same lessons should apply to you: less control, more surrender, zero shame/guilt, patience and more patience. Rinse. Repeat. It’ll all work itself out in due time.