What Potty Training is Teaching Me About MotherhoodBeth Anne Ballance
First, THANK YOU for all of your sweet words earlier. Even when you didn’t agree, you were kind and gentle and I wish there was a way to adequately tell you how much that is needed in this internet space, where we can just say I DO NOT KNOW and be greeted with a smile.
I’ve thought about my sweet toddler and I’m so thankful that while I was seething on the inside, I didn’t lose my temper or scold. He had the natural consenquence of leaving Gram’s and having to take a shower instead of a bath and maybe someday those consenquences (not punishments) will be enough to sway him.
I’ve realized that it is fear that feeds my anger, and this fear of the potty training…it all boils down to my fear that I am horribly screwing it all up.
Potty training is forcing me to come nose-to-nose with the fact that my son is his own person, and there is very little I can do to control him. Yes, I can teach him manners and ensure his safety and give him the best start, but I can’t make him poop. I can’t make him say, “Thank you,” when he’s not standing beside me. I can’t make him fall asleep by 8:30 PM at night and I can’t make him eat. All I can do is give him the tools, and that terrifies me. I don’t want to force him to do things for me. I want him to do them because he loves me, respects me, and cherishes me as his mother.
Because I flash forward ten years, fifteen years, twenty years and think of all the things that are out of my hands. I look at him telling me defiantly that he won’t potty and the tears in his eyes, and I wonder how I will deal when he brings home a girl we don’t like, or sneaks out of the house, or tries alcohol in his friend’s basement. I think of him in the future, no longer with tears in his eyes, but with arms crossed and still defiantly telling me, “No!” I worry that if I make a wrong step while he’s potty training, I could screw this up forever.
I can give him the tools, I can tell him how it’s done. I can pray for him and help him but at the end of the day, his life is 100% his own.
And I’m afraid of that.