I can see it so clearly. A future where I’m not constantly wiping asses and carrying around a bag full of diapers and wipes. The vision is marvelous. I can almost touch the freedom and I’m eager to make it a reality.
So when my youngest started showing signs of potty training readiness I did a happy dance and Amazon’d all the necessary potty training paraphernalia. We started talking to her about how amazing it is to wear underwear and pee like a big girl and she was on board. And of course the bribery didn’t hurt either. She very quickly learned that a trip to the potty yielded lots of praise and treats in return and she maxed out the opportunities.
We were on a roll and I could sense the end of diapers was near. But one big, and I mean big, thing stood in our path to success.
Yup, the deuce. Poop. Number two. Chocolate delight. Whatever you call it, it was screwing my diaper-free fantasy up royally. My daughter refused to poop in the potty. Which for most kids is completely normal at the beginning of potty training. But after trying many methods to get her to overcome this hurdle it just wasn’t happening.
We continued on, hoping to master the skill of peeing while developing her turd-ometer as time went on. Surely at some point she would get tired of shitting herself, right? And to be honest, it really wasn’t a big deal in terms of clean up either as she almost always waited to drop her load during naps or bedtime when she had a pull-up on.
Progress was steady and I was even confident of being out in public with her for longer periods of time without worrying about an accident. And for anyone who has potty trained a child before, you know how big of an accomplishment that is.
And then we moved. And everything went to hell. Prior to the move she would go a few hours without an accident and would either tell us when she needed to go or would at least begrudgingly head to the potty when prompted. Now, she was piddling (puddling? Whatever, she pissed herself) often. I’m talking once every half hour. The accidents started small, barely enough to dampen her underwear.
I quickly familiarized myself with potty training regression to figure out how to quickly get her back on track. One of the key triggers in potty training regression is a recent life event or change. Like a move. Super. But, at least I knew what might be behind this backwards trend. So we reminded her of what she already learned and tried not to get upset with her (though we weren’t perfect) when she had an accident. But three weeks after being in the new house and things got worse, not better.
The accidents suddenly got larger and more frequent. And we also noticed that she wasn’t dropping deuces during nap times like she usually did. She was constipated and irritated. A bad combo for a 2 1/2 year old. I’ll spare you the details but we got her relief and hoped this would be a start to getting her back on track. But it wasn’t.
At this point everyone was exhausted and frustrated. My daughter started reacting to her accidents as if she knew she had done something wrong and was ashamed which broke my heart. I never want her to feel that way about potty training and it was at this point that I said fuck it. She’s going back in pull-ups full-time.
This was a big shift for me because I’m fully in the camp of once you put a child in underwear you don’t put them back in pull-ups because it’s confusing. And I still believe that. But clearly my daughter, who seemed ready earlier, is no longer ready to potty train. And I need to respect the signs she’s showing me and slow down.
My pediatrician’s office echoed my thought process and also warned me that I may get judged by others for this decision. And I might. But I just don’t care. No one knows our potty training journey but us. No one heard my daughter whimpering after having a large accident. No one can understand the thought process of a 2 1/2 year old who just had a major life event. No one can feel our sanity slipping as we try to make sense of the regression when everything seemed to be going so well.
So judge on if you must. But my daughter seems perfectly happy to once again have a saggy pull-up on as she explores and adjusts to her new home. And when she feels more comfortable and starts to ask to use the potty on her own again, I’ll gladly oblige.
But for now I’m grateful for a potty training reprieve. Because potty training is a bitch.
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