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Mar 5 2014

Potty Training Taught Me That Some Things Are Better Outsourced

By at 10:48 am

baby-toilet

It occurred to me recently that though my boys are perfectly potty-trained–which is good because they are 6 and 9–I actually had no idea what to do when my daughter’s turn came around. Odder, still, was that it wasn’t because she’s a girl and girls train differently. What rattled me was that I hadn’t potty-trained my older children…my sister had.

It all sort of happened by accident. My oldest trained late because of issues with his digestive tract, so potty-training was more like an adult conversation than a child manipulation. He’s smart. Scary smart. He was interested in the internal mechanics. Potty-training was more like a seminar, complete with multi-media, entitled: “This is how your digestive system works.”

But with my younger son, I had just had a new baby, and my older sister came over to hang out and spend plenty of cuddle time with an adorable newborn girl. I don’t know why, but she suddenly said, “Let me see if I can get Izzy to use the potty.” She’s just funny that way. Three hours later, success! I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I was so busy with my newborn, I hardly even reinforced it after. She spoke to him when she saw him, asked how he was doing, made bargains and even told him to call her when he had something to brag about. “Mommy, can you call Auntie Francine so I can tell her I pooped?”

So when my daughter had a playdate a few weeks ago with a girl six months her junior who was fully trained, I realized she was the last one standing in a diaper. I called my sister. “Francine, you trained the other one. Can you come over for a few hours and do it again? I’m really not joking!”

Then one day after preschool, she showed up with a bag of popsicles and princess panties, we set up the potty chair (which I bought that morning), turned on “The Little Mermaid,” and three hours later…success!

I feel no guilt. I make no apologies. Every parent is good at one thing and bad at something else. I, for example, can sleep-train a baby like nobody’s business. Rather than try to be a woman whose self-worth as a mom is reliant on her ability to teach a toddler how to pee in a bowl, I willingly outsourced.

And this made me think about the “Mommy Wars.” No two people are the same, so why does anyone expect any two mothers to be the same? Arguing over nursing and bottles, sleep-training and bed-sharing, swaddling and pacifiers, slings and strollers…it’s irrelevant to our actual parenting. Because while informative articles and resources are important, they should not be used to compare ourselves to others or to allow others to make us feel like less of a good mother.

So when math homework comes along, and my child needs help, I’ll be outsourcing that, too.

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