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My least favorite mommy task is attempting to sufficiently slather sunscreen onto a wiggly toddler.
My second least favorite is potty-training. Unfortunately, there is no way to combine these tasks into one really miserable event.
When we decided to have more children, it had been 10 years since our last.
During that decade I mentally glamorized motherhood, only remembering the sweet smells, chubby cheeks and funny little things they say.
I forgot (or blocked out) the sunscreen and potty-training ordeals.
You would think since our newest additions are now 3 and 4, I would be done with potty-training.
You might also think I would have lost the baby weight by now, but that’s what you get for thinkin’!
Our 4-year-old just had her third dry night in a row. So, maybe, just maybe, she can be officially declared fully trained.
Our 3-year-old son is a different story. He has stated quite clearly and emphatically that he does not wish to be potty-trained.
Should you have any doubt where he stands on the subject, I will quote him for you.
“I not getting potty-trained! Not potty-train me! I wish to wear diapers until I go to college.”
Okay, he didn’t really say that last line, but the rest is verbatim. All this hassle has unlocked repressed memories of my potty-training past.
As a young mother to my now-18-year-old daughter, I was determined to do everything by the book. According to “the book” there was no reason she could not be completely trained before I gave birth to her brother, due only three weeks after her second birthday.
She was a feisty little thing with a mind of her own, and we fought it out tooth and nail.
It’s actually quite embarrassing when I look back on it.
I’m sure Freud would say she will suffer all sorts of issues in her adult life as a result of her mother’s rigorous potty-training demands.
After a month of non-compliance, I resorted to bribes. M&Ms if she would just sit on the potty. Stickers on a deluxe chart if she actually produced something.
I was beating my head against a brick wall.
One evening hubby arrived home to find me huddled in the corner, crying. I’d heard that if I put her in panties for a day, she would be trained.
I’d spent the entire day mopping the floor.
Little brother arrived early, via an emergency Caesarean section, right on daughter’s second birthday.
She exchanged her crib for a toddler bed, adjusted to sharing mommy with a sibling, and suddenly seemed very grown up.
I was exhausted and recovering, and no longer cared if I had to buy diapers in two sizes, so I completely dropped the potty-training attempts.
Three months later, daughter hopped out of bed one morning and declared, “No more diapers!” And that was it. She never wore another diaper, even at night.
My mothering skills and knowledge grew quite a bit by the time our son was potty-training age. I finally understood that a child has to be mentally and physically ready, or it can’t happen.
But by this time, my pendulum had swung the opposite direction. I was pregnant with baby number three, held a night time waitressing job, and we were temporarily living with hubby’s parents.
I could care less if the boy ever got trained or not. I remember once he asked if I would take him to potty.
I was so tired I replied, “Just go in your diaper this time.”
That’s a fine piece of mothering right there. But in the end, it all worked out.
All three of my older children are well-adjusted teenagers (if there is such a thing) who seem to suffer no ill side effects from their mother’s neurotic turned lazy attempts at potty-training.
They are all out of diapers, and surprisingly, no one ever asks how old they were when it happened.
It used to be such an important thing, everyone always had to know, “Is she potty-trained yet?”
I was completely taken by surprise to find out that question was not asked on one single college application. Now, here I am again in the throes of potty-training warfare.
Three-year-old son and I are at a stand-off. He will be trained eventually; I think. My bigger disappointment comes from the fact that no matter how old they get, they still need help with the sunscreen.
Ginger Truitt is an author, speaker and mother of five. Her award-winning column appears weekly in Indiana and Kentucky. Contact her at email@example.com. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.