Sunday, October 04, 2009

IN! (the potty)

I can't believe I'm updating the blog with information about my baby's - er, big boy's - latest accomplishment... potty training. What a difficult and fun and sanctifying experience this has been!

It happened Friday night, two weeks ago. Xander clutched his diaper and told us "potty!" We looked for some clarification, "Do you need to go potty?" and he told us yes. We looked at each other, puzzled, and I asked Xander if he wanted to go sit on the potty and go. Yes again. Off we went, to the potty, but nothing happened.

A few minutes later, "potty!" Repeat. (including the part where nothing happened.)
A few minutes later, "potty!" We need a new plan of action. Daddy retrieved the little potty chair and we sat it out for the big boy who wanted to keep his diaper dry. Within a few minutes he sat on the potty, exclaimed, "uh oh! here it comes!" and with that, we were cheering over a soaked floor - and we were on the potty training roller coaster. oh my.

Now what? What do you do when your son tells you he needs to go potty, then proceeds to hold it in until he can get to the potty? Well, we decided that what we don't do is encourage him to go in his diaper. What we do do however, was trickier to determine. After all, is he really ready? He's not yet two, and everyone tells me to wait with boys until they're two and a half. Where did this come from? Was it a fluke? He's not supposed to potty train yet... etc. These thoughts and many more were flying through my brain. Let's not forget we are a few short weeks from Phoebe's arrival. I really had no intentions of tackling potty training before she came. My plan was to attempt it after the new year. Especially in light of our holiday travel plans. Won't it just be simpler to have Xander in a diaper, rather than stopping roadside?

Guess what. I didn't really get to decide. Trust me, that wasn't easy for me to swallow. Brian and I determined that we'd play Saturday by ear. If Xander kept it up, we'd train him, if he abandoned interest and didn't take to the potty after a good night's sleep, we'd drop it. We we were in no way desperate to get him out of diapers. At the same time, we did have a rare open weekend ahead of us - this just might work.

Saturday came and went and we learned a lot about our big boy. Primarily, he can hold it a long time. AND, he didn't want to go in his diaper. So, he had 3 successes on the potty, though he didn't really have them until he simply could not hold it any longer - as in, he'd proclaim "potty!" run and sit on the potty, and then nothing would happen, probably 10 times for every time he figured out how to relax and go. As it turns out, it's a tricky process for someone who has never really had to think about it before!

So, the weekend progressed, and the week, and little by little the little man got the hang of actually "going" on the potty, not just going to the potty when he had the urge. But it wasn't without struggle on my part. Doubt. Questioning. Desperation. Should I really be spending my days potty training him? Every success made me feel like I was digging myself deeper into a hole we couldn't climb out of, every accident made me doubt whether I should be training him at all. I was not sleeping well at night, exhausted during the day, losing my patience with the kids, constantly questioning whether I was doing the right thing, crying when Xander got off the potty without letting anything out, crying when he had a success, neglecting poor Libby who entertained herself for 2 days while I followed Xander around analyzing his every move and gesture for a clue as to what I should do with him. I was a mess!

Enter: the Lord. Oh, how thankful I am for the Bible Study I was working on for that week, and in particular a little section on trials. Finally it clicked, "this is a trial!" and oh for my perspective to change. For those of you who don't know me, I'm a planner. And for everything I don't plan, I still like to be in control of it - as in, I am choosing to not plan. This potty training experience didn't work quite like that. I did not get to plan, I did not get to pick a date to start and buy stickers and candies and start planting the seed in my baby's mind. I did not clear my schedule or pray about my intentions or plans for the coming week of training. Nope, I just got slapped in the face with a kid who decided he wanted to go on the potty. And boy did I need it - I needed the reminder that I am not in control, but I am under the charge of a sovereign Lord who is providentially working for my benefit (Romans 8:28-29 -- And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.), and who allows me various trials, again for my benefit (James 1:2-4 -- Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.) And I needed practice, practice dealing with trials, because I know that more will come.

And oh how the Lord provides what we need. Poor Xander sat on the potty Tuesday morning, and I was convinced he needed to go, and that it would be best to keep him on the potty until we had a success. So I sat with him as he begged me to get down, "all done, mama!" he would proclaim. No, Xander, let's keep trying... we'd read, we'd sing, we'd chat, he'd try to charm me and convince me to let him get off the potty. Finally, in his cutest voice (that often melts me) he pointed to his thumb the way he'd been taught in the church nursery and said, "be patient."

Tears flowed, and they weren't X's this time. :) The Lord convicted me of my impatience with my sweet boy, by using words he scarcely understands but I'd helped him memorize.

Later, while chatting on the phone with my dear sister-in-law I confessed that I was struggling with potty training and decision-making and through her wise counsel I realized that I was measuring success in entirely the wrong light. Rather than accidents v. potty successes, I needed to be evaluating myself through the trial - was I keeping a quiet spirit? Was I patient with my kids? Was I loving? Was I forbearing? Was I quick to confess my sins and repent? Was I grumbling and complaining? no, no, no, no, no, yes....

So, not nearly quickly enough, but certainly not too late, I cried out to the Lord for help - patience, wisdom, joy in making difficult decisions in raising my kids... he answered.

The following days were so much better. Not only did Xander begin to really get the hang of using the potty, but my focus had changed from keeping undies dry to glorifying the Lord in my duty as a mother. I think my husband and kids would agree that I was a lot more pleasant to be around the latter part of the week. :) Praise the Lord for his word that is sharper than any double edged sword! And, praise the Lord for my husband, who came home from work at the end of the day and picked up where I left off, offering me a much needed break, encouragement, steadfastness where I was faltering... He has been such a great and godly leader through this process and I am so blessed to have him leading our family!

In the meantime, Xander is almost a potty pro. He's recently become much more successful at poopie in the potty (that's tricky for little ones, isn't it?). I think ice cream and cookies had something to do with his willingness to learn. :) Once I feel confident in his mastery of this, it will be a totally new world we live in... until I start diapering that cute tiny new little bottom I'm about to blessed with. :)

And here he is, my little man, cuter than anything in his little undies (really, I don't know of much that is cuter than a little one in their undies, sorry, it's just true) enjoying a little bowl of ice cream after a big success. And would you believe, that a couple weeks before his second birthday and a couple weeks before the arrival of his baby sister, Alexander Elliot is potty trained? yowza.


Band of Brothers said...

wow, what a roller coaster for you! Great job Xander! And good job mommy for writing such an encouraging uplifting post:)

Michelle said...

Wow - I have to admit I felt a pang of sadness knowing my little Emmy just didn't quite get it when we tried a few weeks ago! I'm SO THRILLED for you to have had Xander accomplish this before Phoebe's arrival, what an awesome thing for you guys! I think I was looking at it wrongly as well, thanks for the great reminder! :)