When Life Gives You M&M's

Where do I begin? Some of you may have already been informed by me or through social media that this past week was potty training week. Oh yes...it's as good as it sounds let me tell you. I have literally been dreading this moment in time since the day I first became a mother. I remember sighing a breath of relief whenever I heard a mother talking about potty training her 2 year old or 3 year old, because in my head that day wouldn't come for a very long time. Well folks...that day came knockin' on my door all to quickly and I did NOT want to answer it.

It's funny really...how something like potty training can teach you something of value in your own life, something that you maybe didn't even realize was lingering in your own subconscious.

A couple months ago was when it all really started...the question that is: "so when do you think you're going to start potty training?" Every time I heard it I clenched my teeth. Ugh. Such an awful question. Yet each time I smiled and replied with something like..."well, hopefully before this next baby arrives!"

You see, in my head that time frame sounded logical...get one out of diapers before the next one has to live in them for the next two years. Cut on costs, save the environment, blah, blah, blah. All those logical sounding things right? But when it actually came to it, when I had to face this potty training reality I started to second guess myself.

Oh maybe she can survive being in diapers a little longer...a lot of kids do! She's not complaining about her diaper that much, maybe she's not ready. Don't fix what isn't broker right?! These are all the things that I continued to tell myself as time wore away. It wasn't until about two weeks ago that I discovered where my lack of urgency really stemmed from when it came to potty training and it wasn't until I truthfully sought out my own heart that I humbly recognized the issue.

You see, my despise for potty training didn't come from all the horror stories I'd heard from other moms; it didn't come from some buried horrific experience in my own life.

No. This opposition most definitely came from my complete and utter fear of failure.

As moms, we are in charge of a lot of things: getting the kids bathed, dressed, and fed each morning, whipping the buggers from their nose, tying their shoes, packing their lunches, teaching them their ABC's, etc. And while those things have to be done, it does not take away from the fact that they are incredibly hard to do. I mean I cannot tell you how many days a week I stay in my ugly white robe till 10 in the morning because I haven't found the time to put on actual clothes (if you know me well enough you can picture exactly what I'm talking about). Granted this post is not a pity party for me but rather a glimpse into the struggles AND fears that us moms are faced with each day.

Let me just try to put things into perspective:

When your child shows up late to a school event, whose fault is it? When your child still has their pajamas on when they show up to their play date, whose fault is it? When your child bullies another child at school or at the park, whose fault is it? The answer to all of those questions is the same; it's your fault. You are the parent. You are responsible for the actions and or inactions of your child right?

Well...that isn't entirely true, but society sure makes it seem that way don't they? And so here I am, faced with this incredible fear that if I aim to potty train my daughter and she doesn't quite grasp the concept then I've somehow failed her (now that sounds a little ridiculous as I type it out but it's the honest truth) and I am held responsible for that particular inadequacy on her behalf.

All jokes aside, I'm sure there are many of you right now, pinpointing my own insecurities in life as a wife and mother and wish to advise me on how to best deal with situations pertaining to failure and how it's necessary to experience failure in life. While others that are reading this, may be carrying the same burden. We all have our struggles and this is my greatest one. Fear of Failure.

So after wrestling with my own self conflict and finally getting over my initial shock that this is actually going to happen, I set the day. I began to tell my family and friends because Lord knows that I needed the accountability. There was no backing down now. As "dooms day" slowly approached I followed the "Potty Training Boot Camp" rules to a "T."

 

  1.  Let her pick out her very own undies at the store
  2. Let her pick out her favorite salty snack
  3.  Let her pick out her favorite treat
  4.  Let her pick out her favorite drink

You get the picture......

I called my sister for any last words of advice (since she had already accomplished Potty Training Boot Camp two times) and I scribbled any lasting notes I thought might make a difference. I had it allllll under control. I was prepared, I was ready! What could go wrong?? 

Well the day finally came and I crawled out of bed as early as I could manage before Rozalyn woke up, made my (precious) coffee and silently spoke one of my many daily prayers:

"Lord, make my love for others and for all people grow and overflow. Make my heart strong, blameless, and holy as I stand before you, my Father." And with all the faith I could muster, I slowly sank to my knees and asked the Lord for patience during this new adventure...endless patience. It was then that I heard it.....

 

"MOM! MOMMA!!!" 

 

It was beginning. It was JUST beginning. 

With hesitation in each step,  I headed down the hallway to her room and smiled as I entered. She looked at me and screamed just like the morning before and threw her arms up in excitement, while I squirmed tirelessly on the inside. You see, to her it was just another day...there was nothing special about this day, nothing out of the ordinary. And so I picked her up and asked for the first time of MANY...."do you have to go potty Rozalyn?" 

Now I'm not going to go into details on the method I followed but I will tell you this much...they advise that you (pretty much) lock yourself in your house for 3 days straight and I'm telling you folks, none of my preparation could prepare me for what was in store for me during these next few days. I'm not sure which day was worse, the first or the second. My sister warned me that the second was worse but I think I'd have to say that the first day took the cake. It went a little something like this....

 

After our first unsuccessful trip to the toilet I began feeding her all sorts of salty snacks to get her to drink plenty of fluids. The idea behind that is that she would have to go potty more often right??? Wrong. Well for my daughter at least. Two and a half hours past by without even a tinkle!! This was not how I imagined this going. My sister had said that the first day they have the most accidents and here I was shoving fluids down her throat and I couldn't even get her to have ONE!! I scrambled to the phone and called my sister...was I doing something wrong!? She laughed and chuckled at the strangeness of the situation and reassured me, "it's gotta come out sometime right?" I hung up the phone bound and determined to get this girl to pee...whether that be all over my kitchen floor or in the toilet it was going to happen. 

Every trip to the toilet consisted of me hopping up and down, screaming in excitement as I acknowledged how significant it was that she even be sitting on the toilet; I then handed her an M&M and told her next time she goes potty on the toilet she can have 3 M&M's. Well apparently that bribe meant nothing to her and she soon caught on to the fact that every time she just sat on the toilet she could have a piece of candy. This little escapade turned into a "fun" game for her and I was left the fool  running hot laps up and down the hallway every time she cried "POTTY!" It wasn't long till our dry run ended and the fluids started flowing. 

The first accident wasn't bad because it happened outside (no clean up), but the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh...........eleventh accident weren't as "clean" and I thought by the middle of the day that I was needing to map out plan B. By the time nap time rolled around I was thanking the heavens...maybe there would be some sort of turn around once she woke up, I thought. Well I'm pretty sure she was just as worn out as I was because she slept for 3 hours that day and I was more than grateful for the extra rest. When 3 PM rolled around it was game time again and I was thankful when her next potty trip led to a few "tinkles" into the pot. I of course rejoiced and willingly gave her more pieces of candy than I had originally intended and she remained confused as to why I was acting like a crazy person (I admit...I may have snuck a couple of Rozalyn's "treats" in the midst of the chaos and it was beginning to show). 

By the end of day one, my sugar high had worn off and I was left feeling exhausted and defeated. My poor husband paid the price when he returned home as I vented, "What's the point of this? She was fine before...I knew this wasn't going to work. Maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead." My fear of failure was creeping up on me and I knew I just needed to go to bed. When I woke up for day two, my anxiety quickly returned and I wasn't at all ready to start another day of disaster. But the sun rose and with it so did my daughter...I just had to buckle down and buck up. Many more accidents ensued, as well as, numerous hours sitting on the bathroom floor reading stories and singing songs just waiting to hear something fall into that toilet. We did make progress, don't get me wrong, but just when I thought we had turned a corner I would look over and see that we were still standing in a puddle of disasters (literally). As the day wound down I began to hear those persistent voices in my head again, urging me to give up, but by that point I knew there was no turning back...one more day Tessa. Just one more day. 

When we woke up on day 3 it was like something shifted. Rozalyn had one minor accident in the hallway standing outside the bathroom (she was getting closer) and the rest of the day she gained the understanding to tinkle in toilet and not in her undies (Hallelujah... my hands needed a rest from the constant washing I was doing with those poor undies). I finally gained the confidence to take a little drive to pick up an item from a friends house and we survived with no accidents (granted it was only a 2 mile drive)!! For the first time in three days I was left feeling hopeful and encouraged that the end was in sight. 

After that day something clicked for Rozalyn. I remember my sister telling me that it would take three days but I didn't actually believe her!!! We went to stores, parks, friends houses and she never once had an accident. Sure we faced different obstacles, like the scary (HUGE) toilets at the store and the lack of bathrooms at the park, but each time she overcame her fears she took me along with her. Little by little, that voice in my head ceased to exist and day-by-day I was left feeling more victorious. 

So here I am, almost a week since our potty training adventure began and we are 100% potty trained. I think back to these series of events and chuckle at how naive I was for not "trusting in the system" but more importantly, not trusting in my ability to teach my daughter the lesson of potty training. Each time I handed her that small M&M as a reward for her actions, it was like she was giving back to me the confidence that I so lacked during this endeavor. 

So here I am, almost a week since our potty training adventure began and we are 100% potty trained. I think back to these series of events and chuckle at how naive I was for not "trusting in the system" but more importantly, not trusting in my ability to teach my daughter the lesson of potty training. Each time I handed her that small M&M as a reward for her actions, it was like she was giving back to me the confidence that I so lacked during this endeavor. 

It's amazing the things that you can do when life hands you an M&M. 

If you are like me and struggle with the fear of failure I encourage you to seek refuge in our Father because it's in Him that we can find rest. Not only is failure necessary to determine success but it's natural. We were made in God's perfect image but we are not perfect...not on our own at least. Continue to search the Fathers heart because it is there that you will find that you can never fail.