I’ve given up on my daughter.
It’s not for lack of trying on my part – I’ve done everything I can do. There just comes a point in every parent’s life when you must admit that it’s time to walk away no matter how much it pains you to do so. I’m sure my daughter will be fine in the end. In fact, she may even be better off without me.
Friends, I’m over potty training.
When my daughter Charlotte was about a year old I had an acquaintance tell me that her daughters were both potty trained by 18 months. This seemed like an amazing alternative to changing diapers and a milestone to look forward to. So, when she was a year and a half I went out and I bought my daughter a small green potty with a princess crown etched on it that sang songs anytime liquid hit the bowl. I proudly brought it home like a shiny new toy and sat it in the corner of the living room. I swapped diapers for much more expensive pull-ups and hopefully bought some panties for toddlers.
“We’re potty training!” I announced to my husband and daughter.
As if that were all it would take.
I must say we started off on the right note. My daughter was curious about the potty and she used it here and there. The thing about singing potties is they don’t just play music when they’re used, they like to go off at three in the morning as well. Still, I thought we were on the fast track to having my daughter ditch the diapers and become the oldest kid in class not in diapers at school.
Then she broke her tibia and fibula.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had the misfortune of having a child with a broken leg and a cast that extends up to her thigh, but I can tell you that it’s horrible. The cast isn’t the worst part it’s the fact your child regresses and has to relearn how to walk, sit and sleep again. We couldn’t get pants up and down her leg, let alone pull-ups, so we switched back to diapers. Charlotte started sleeping in our bed because she had to have her leg propped up on a pillow or the weight of the cast caused immense pain. We went from having a two-year old to what felt like an infant once again. Potty training took a back seat and we all but forgot about the princess potty. I bought a Costco size amount of pull-ups. I waived my white flag and admitted defeat.
When I enrolled Charlotte in a Pre-K program at a new school this past May, I lied and told the teacher she was potty trained. They encouraged the children to only wear pull-ups at nap time and to bring them to school in underwear. I broke the rules and sent her in pull-ups in favor of being sent home bags of laundry to wash from accidents all day. Then her other childcare center she’s also attending (she’s enrolled in two schools making weekdays nothing short of chaos) sent home a note telling me, asking that I please send Charlotte in underwear along with several outfit changes, because they were working really hard on potty training in that classroom as well.
My husband lamented that our daughter simply could not be trained to use a toilet. No amount of We began to think we may well need to go ahead and stock up on adult diapers, because that’s where our lives were headed.
Then I did the unthinkable, I truly gave up.
I looked around me at the parents I admired and that seems to be what worked best for all of them. I watched my friends whose child still carried around a bottle or pacifier or slept in bed with them – none of them seemed phased. I noted that while our child may not have been ready to give up diapers, it seemed every child around us had a “thing” they clung to. Perhaps it’s partly the parents fault for us not wanting our children to grow up; to enjoy the fact they still need us. I know potty training is one of the few milestones Charlotte can learn on her own and I had to eventually throw away my timeline and start taking cues from hers. She wasn’t ready to let go of the diapers and that was OK because maybe I wasn’t either.
Incidentally last week I launched operation, “we’re wearing panties and I don’t care what happens to them.” I went to Target and filled my basket with toddler underwear and filled her drawer where the pull-ups and diapers once were. I told my husband from now on Charlotte was wearing underwear and I didn’t care what happened to them or how many outfit changes we went through. I took her on a 3 hour plane ride to visit my sister shortly after and brought only two diapers with me. I knew I was rolling the dice to bring a potty training toddler solo on a plane but I was through worrying.
We ditched the diapers once and for all.
So perhaps your child was wearing underwear before mine – who cares. As parents we need to stop comparing our children to one another and realize our child is unique and special and will outgrow certain habits as they’re ready. My daughter never sucked her thumb, drank from a bottle past a year, slept in our bed past infancy (minus the cast incident), or carried a blanket everywhere — so refusal to use the potty just happened to be her deal.
I’m sure in the future I’ll have many more moments where I’ll have to stick my hands in my pockets and accept the fact she’s better off without my guidance. I’ve learned it’s Ok to give up on your child and let them enjoy whatever phase they’re currently in. This was always meant to be her milestone, not mine.