Monday, November 11, 2013

The Sunshine in Her Smile

In all the time that I've spent building up the horrors of potty training in my head, they largely consisted of smelly messes, tons of laundry, tearful reactions to oft-occurring accidents, and/or (most worrisome of all) an absolute lack of recognition that things should be going differently than the status quo.

The reality of potty training has been far more emotionally draining than I ever anticipated, and fraught with problems I never expected to encounter. We're on day four of the process, and day two with no accidents, yet I still feel that we've not made very much progress towards toilet independence. Interestingly, the problems that we're encountering seem to be the opposite of what I expected or- indeed- have ever heard of.

Abby has no shortage of control, apparently. In fact, I'd say she has a little too much. So much so that every day of this process I've had to wait until past two in the afternoon to see anything happen at all. Part of the issue is her unwillingness to drink a sufficient amount of fluids, but even on a day that I got two glasses in her after lunch, she held out for an astonishingly long period of time before succumbing to the inevitable.

I want to help her, but I don't know how. It seems I'm doing very little with my days lately apart from fighting with her in-between all of the other tasks required of me. I have to coax and cajole her onto the potty when I think a reasonable amount of time has gone by. Then, I have to coax and cajole her off of it when we reach a point that she's been sitting so long on it that she's missing out on vital opportunities to do normal toddler things.

As she sits, she seems to be fighting every natural urge that comes. I see it in her face and hear it in her protestations. "No, I don't want to!" she moans. It's at that point that I'll suggest that she give it a break for awhile. She refuses. After a time I can get through to her, but often it's gotten to the point where when she stands, the sensation feels that more urgent, and she begins to buckle down into a position indicating intense discomfort. In response, I place her on the seat again, only to endure some unreasonable span of time in which she continues to will any and all natural processes from occurring.

It's agonizing. I don't understand what scares her so much about the feeling, or how to talk her down from her fear. This afternoon, I even tried modeling for her, and though she got a kick out of it, she did not mimic me. Several minutes later, when the discomfort began to hit her again, she begged me to repeat it but I could not. It wasn't until many minutes after that that she finally let go. That was at nearly 6:00 pm, was only her second successful usage of the potty that day, and was her only urination since being changed out of a diaper in the morning.

I don't know how much longer she can keep this up. I don't know how much longer I can stand it.

When I have the mental energy to do so, I'm just trying to focus on the positives, like Michael's quick adjustment to the new room situation.

My quickest, most enduring fix lately, however, comes from little Mia. She's on a big, long, break from teething and it's turned her into the most pleasant little baby you've ever seen (most of the time). She's perfectly happy doing her thing on the floor all day until hunger, fatigue, or diaper soiling break up the cheeriness.

Best of all, however, is her smile. The two new additions in her tiny mouth have brought the cuteness to a whole new level (in my humble opinion). More than that, they're constant reminders that terrible struggle is not always without its reward. She went through so much to get those teeth out, and in the midst of it I felt that relief would never come. It did, however, and it's beautiful.

I see that smile and I see the rainbow after the rain, the sunshine after the clouds clear. I see that smile and see the other side of awfulness.

I pray that where Abby is concerned, we're just near the peak of the mountain that is potty training; that the fear will subside, the acceptance will come, the process will start to make sense. I've been trying to build her confidence by reminding her of one of her favorite stories, The Little Engine that Could. I tell her, as she starts to become agitated, to breathe, to relax, to say, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."

I know she can. I want her to know it too, and I can't wait to see the same success in her smile someday soon.


  1. Have you tried reading her any potty training books? Or tried giving her some sort of treat as a reward Everytime she actually pees/poops on the potty? We also keep the little potty in the bathroom & Lucas likes to go with us when we go...a little TMI, but modeling definitely helps. :) don't give up! I think you can, I think you can! :)

    1. Yup. We've done the potty books, the treats, the modeling (probably not enough modeling, but I'm working on it). I think that now that she's been trained to notice the sensation, the prospect of "giving in" to it freaks her out. I think that maybe my best bet is to start leaving her alone, even when she looks like she's about to have an accident, and see what she decides to do without my interference. Maybe she'll surprise me.