Anyone from the grandparent generation will tell you potty training begins early. When your children hit 2, if they are not potty trained, you get a baffled look and questioned, “how old is s/he?”. Even my own mom tells me, “you were potty-trained at 16 months.” My son is 16 months, and he is way too busy preparing for his life as a stunt double to be bothered with using the potty. Okay, so I was potty trained early, my husband was potty trained early, our cousins were potty trained early, our friends were potty trained early. I get it! I wish that this didn’t bother me. After all, the doctor assures me that children will use the potty when they are ready. In the handout they gave me at my son’s 15-month check-up, they advise to not push the child and let them tell us when they are ready. Further, there was even a statement in the handout to disregard advice from grandparents who push to potty train early. Permission to ignore? Thank you medical professionals. Ha ha, take that all you 50-something’s and up who were able to potty train my generation when we weren’t even walking yet (please don’t hurt me if you are 50-something and up, I totally respect you)! The problem is, this knowledge is not enough to wipe away the guilt that creeps in. The voice that says, “you’re not a good enough mom.”
There are expectations out there that your child needs to be potty-trained. Many daycare facilities will only take the potty-trained children. Let’s see, 12 weeks of FMLA, and then back to work. So at 3 months, that kid should have no problem using the potty, right? Oh wait, you will take my diapered baby after all, it just is an extra fee, oh no problem. I’ll just dive into those potty training videos and books with the promising title “potty training in 3 days”. So if I take a day off of work and do nothing for 3 days straight but continuously put my child on the toilet every 30-minutes we will have a potty-trained champion in our household. Honestly, I don’t want to have to use my vacation time and my weekends to potty train. My days off are so valuable to me. I need those days to keep sane, to have fun, to practice self-care, to enjoy my family. And here comes the guilt again. “A good mom would do it.” “You are being selfish.” “You’re being lazy.” Not only does that inner self-critique get me, but I also worry about what everyone else thinks.
I’m ready to let go of all of this guilt. Not because I have been able to ignore the judgment (real and imagined) from others, but because it happened. My daughter, who will be 3 next month used the potty for the first time on Sunday night. I didn’t pressure her. I would ask her if she wants to use the potty and wear underwear a couple of times/week for the past six months, and sometimes she would want to, and sometimes she did not. I didn’t pressure her, even though I would say “we need to start the 3-day potty training” to myself every week. She’d been showing interest for the past 10 months, even speaking up when her diaper was wet. So as we have gotten closer to 3, my embarrassment has been growing for not pushing more. All of that went away on Sunday. I could finally lay the guilt to rest because I realized my inner critique was absolutely wrong, and the part of me that I let guide my child-rearing decisions can be trusted. I was definitely proud that my daughter was able to make the decision she is ready on her own, but I am also feeling triumphant that I can be confident that doing it my way is best for me and my family. I have no guilt, no regrets, no self-judgment about this anymore. Reaching this milestone couldn’t have been more perfect or felt more fulfilling. I urge my daughter to share with everyone her achievement, and even though these people may think “well it’s about time,” I’m not bothered, and instead I re-live that proud moment.
Have a story about potty training guilt? Please share.