I have always prided myself on not being one of those miserable moany mums. The ones who whine at their kids. The ones who loudly and ineffectually warn their children about ‘consequences’ when they clearly don’t have a clue what they’ll do if their kids don’t heed their warnings. The ones who let the petty difficulties of day to day parenting grind them down until they’re reduced to a frustrated groaning mess, crouched on the floor surrounded by wet wipes and swearing about rice cakes. The kind you walk past on a lovely sunny day out in the park and secretly pity for how hard they seem to be finding their day to day duties, as they let out a guttural sigh and desperately try to drag their offspring back from wherever they have run to.
You probably think I sound mean and unsympathetic, but you know the ones I mean. You’ve seen them too and given a half-hearted awkward smile, before swiftly averting your gaze and being secretly smug that your own day seems to be going so much better.
While I accept that parenting is hard work, since I first sat miserably in a group of new mums on maternity leave listening to them gripe and grumble about what they simultaneously claimed was the best thing that ever happened to them, I have always tried hard to look on the positive side of being a mum. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty I dislike about parenting (hence the blog!) but I try really hard to always enjoy being a parent and look on the positive side.
Then we started potty training…
It’s bloody awful! Never has something which is such hard work been so unfulfilling! Months ago I blogged that if something isn’t hard work, it’s not worth doing. By that logic, potty training should be the most rewarding thing you ever do in your life, but so far it’s just a been a roller coaster, except one that only ever goes down and largely makes you feel sick.
It’s not helped by other smug parents who are just desperate to regale you with stories of how well potty training went for them. I reassure myself they must have unconsciously readjusted their memories as they tell me that “it only took a day for us”, that “on the second day in pants we had to wait half an hour in a queue for a coffee and she didn’t mind at all” and that “we only ever had one accident and that was it”. Really? How bloody wonderful for you!
Last week, I was ready to join them. After months of flirtation with the potty, I gave up two whole days of my precious holiday from work to devote to ‘wearing big boy pants’. After one day of no accidents, he’d begun asking to go himself and I thought we’d cracked it. Two days later we had a two hour train journey and, sod Supernanny and all those experts, I did put him back in a nappy – I don’t fancy explaining to the East Anglia staff where that suspicious smell around our seats is coming from. Yet despite breaking the golden rule of toilet training, we returned to the potty and it all went well. It was bloody hard work – constantly running up and down the stairs, never ending wiping, trying to enjoy a nice day out while carrying a ruddy great child toilet seat with you because he’s scared otherwise he’ll fall down the big loo and get flushed away – but it seemed to be working.
Then, complacent with our success, we enjoyed a lovely Easter dinner at the in-laws where, while I finally relaxed with a cuppa and a creme egg, my son promptly urinated all over their floor. We cleared up and, confident his tiny bladder could hold no more, we sat down to read a story. Two minutes later he stood up to reveal a giant wet patch all over their beautiful sofa. All clothes and pants now soaked in wee, we regressed to wearing a nappy and me running every twenty minutes with him to the downstairs loo just in case. So much for a relaxing bank holiday weekend!
Then, just as we were getting back on track, a simple trip to the park ruined me and all my positive intentions. As my son screamed blue murder and refused to sit on the potty (I’d decided not to drag his toilet seat out with us that day), I found myself crouched uncomfortably on my knees, desperately trying not to think about what was seeping into my jeans from the floor. I scrambled around trying to sort him out, hampered by my ever growing pregnancy bump. Not that he cared, as he gleefully pulled all the tissue across the floor and giggled as he began to unlock the toilet door when I finally got round relieving myself.
Grumpy, frustrated and exhausted, I snapped. I turned into that miserable parent, whining at their child about toilet roll on a beautiful Spring day. I had been worn down and he had won – momentarily he, and his potty training antics, turned me into the parent I never wanted to be,
I opened the door and sheepishly shuffled out past a queue of twenty something hipsters, all looking awkward and averting their eyes.
I hate potty training.
Please tell me it will be over soon?