For #MotherlyStories | Today was day two of potty training for my two year old daughter Beatrice, and I think we both need a little breather.
I had high hopes of this being a smooth transition.
But we all know each child is so different, and that only time, patience and encouragement can help them feel secure and cheered on when using the potty for the first time.Frustrations and emotions were at an all time high for both us. I was worried that my lack of patience would get the best of me, leaving her feeling let down and frustrated with me on her new journey of becoming a “big girl.” And selfishly, I tired of washing wet underwear. For her part, Beatrice was tired of being asked for the hundredth time if she needed to use the potty!
We both were feeling a little defeated in this new adventure.
I have found too often as a mother that I expect my child to respond new things like to potty training as fast and as close to the last blog post, book or opinion I heard or read. What I have learned is that no two children are alike and the moment I release my expectations for where mine should or should not be, we are both brought back to peace and patience.
So maybe a “break” a little “breather” was all we needed to start fresh the next day. We headed to our favorite spot by the lake and had a picnic. Beatrice munched on popcorn and chatted away about the weather and pinecones, and listened for the sounds of helicopters—which you hear quite often living on a an aviation military base.
Sometimes in the daily struggles of motherhood I have noticed that I can forget who I am and the strength we possess as mothers. It may not come easily at first, but I grow with each new day. Even potty training—this mundane human activity that is emotional and (quite literally) messy, teaches me much about the meaning and purpose of motherhood.
Potty training has taught me a huge lesson on patience. Patience to be present, to pay attention to what is right in front of me. To be encouraging, to not rush the process, to not place expectations on timing or play the comparison game we often play as mothers.
Patience is needed in every area of parenting and potty training is just one way where we can see as parents where our patience is wearing thin.
I have found that it’s when I come from a place of patience and presence that I can then glean wisdom from those messy, mundane, time-consuming tasks of potty training, and find that the waiting, sitting and hours of time spent in the bathroom gives me an opportunity to be present in my child’s world.
Whether it be the grocery line, a traffic jam, or cleaning up wet bedding, I learn the art and joy in the small and big moments in motherhood. Giving our children space to fail and try it again as many times as it takes encourages them that they too can cultivate the gift of patience in there own tiny lives.
Beatrice speaks to me everyday, inviting growth that sometimes feels really hard and frustrating, she provokes patience to be felt and sensed through every minute of the day. And for this I am grateful. Because to truly live and be present in my child’s world means “I learn from her, and she learns from me.” Even in potty training.
Our children have so much to offer to who we are as individuals and they have so much to teach us. In fact, I have come to live for these exhausting, beautiful, and downright messy moments in time. When I push myself to embrace them, rather than just find them frustrating, I stretch and grow and evolve. I become the mother I hope to be.
May we make time for our children to daydream, to feel nature through all of their senses, to be held a little closer, to find the beauty in the pine cones and the sounds of helicopters over our heads.
And to you mama, whether in the midst of sleepless newborn nights or toddler tornados or the midst of potty training, may you find strength as a mother, as a wife, and as a person to let go of any expectations or judgements you place upon yourself.
May love and gratitude fill your hearts and peace be with you on the journey.