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I had 7 diapers left and 2 choices: go buy more diapers or embark on the journey of potty training. I chose option two.

This wasn’t the first time I had given potty training an attempt. This was probably the 10th time and by this point I was sick and tired of buying diapers. My rambunctious toddler had inherited two things from my husband and I: my attitude and my husband’s stubbornness. These two things only seemed to be amplified through our efforts to potty train.

Our potty training fails started when my son fell into the toilet. He went right in—into a place I’m sure he thought was a dark portal to the underworld. We were working with him to stand and pee rather than sit and pee. I didn’t put the potty seat on the toilet because I figured the larger opening would make it easier to aim. The little man had other plans, forgot his seat wasn’t there and went right in.

I didn’t mean to laugh but I let out the slightest giggle, leading to my son’s wrath. If you have a toddler, you know what I’m talking about. I had him out of the toilet super quickly, his butt didn’t touch the water for more than two seconds, but he was not happy. Needless to say, he got a sucker for trying to use the potty, and I took a few minutes to focus on my deep breathing. We were going to get through this, through hell and high waters if it came to it.

My second fail came in a more public display. In the midst of potty training, we went to the indoor kids gym with some of our friends. I wasn’t confident we would make it to the bathroom during play time, so I did the forbidden no-no and put my son in a diaper. I figured it would be OK as he would only be in the diaper for an hour and a half tops. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong!

Within 20 minutes of playing he decided he no longer wanted that diaper and took matters into his own hands.

I heard my son holler for me to watch him. He went to the top of the play area where the tallest slide was. He gave me that devious look only a toddler can master and pulled his pants down to his ankles. No, you better not do it, I thought to myself. One tab at a time, he slowly undid the diaper and dropped it to the floor as he stared directly into my soul with a grin.

Before I could get to him, he tossed his pants, socks and, of course, that dang diaper down the slide. I booked it faster than any mom before and grabbed my toddler. Boy, was he laughing at me as I carried him, half naked and flailing, back down the steps of the play area.

By the time we reached the bottom, I was out of breath and he was cackling to himself at my expense, his socks and pants had also made it down. Guess what didn’t make it back down the slide? His diaper!

Next thing I hear is another child’s voice echoing within the slide saying, “ew a diaper!” My face was beet-red. I wasn’t sure if I should be laughing along with my child or cowering with shame. My friends and other moms there seemed to be enjoying the show. They laughed, not because they were trying to be mean, but because they too had been through something similar in one way or another. In moments like this, you just have to laugh it off.

Potty training isn’t easy, sometimes it feels like you’re climbing Mount Everest—it’s never ending, and someone may not make it to the top. Me, I was the someone who wasn’t going to make it. I tried everything, from the three-day method to bribing with candy or piggy bank money. I was convinced I would be bald by the end from all of the stress. 

What was I doing wrong? My toddler was showing signs of potty training. He wanted to go into the bathroom and go through the motions but not actually pee in the toilet. The enthusiasm was great, the execution left a little to be desired.

And then came the day he actually did use the potty. I was upstairs working when I heard my husband very excitedly exclaim, “You did it!” Without a second beat, I was running downstairs saying, “Did you go? Did you use the potty?!” My husband confirmed it was true and I felt like I could jump for joy, well I did jump for joy actually! My son stood there, pride beaming on his little face as he told me he peed on the potty.

We celebrated and, in that moment, it turned out the view from the top was very well worth the climb.

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