When I was about to go on maternity leave, my colleagues at my previous place of employment held a small baby shower to bid me farewell. The mommies in the group had some advice, small things like storing wipes everywhere, which nappy brand was the best, how to get baby to develop healthy sleep patterns. My response was always a bit laissez-faire, “my only job is keeping the kid alive”, joking my way out of truly absorbing any information from those whom had experience of this thing called parenting.
My pregnancy was easy; I did not have any of the afflictions many would-be moms complain about, besides perhaps sleeplessness and a bit of snoring towards the end. I remember feeling very offended when my husband nudged me awake one night to ask if I could please lie on my side because I snore when I lie on my back.
Pregnancy was nothing compared to the real thing. I do not want to bore you with all the early challenges. My nipples so sore you want to run to the hills. The squirting poop, the teething, the guessing games about what to feed the small human whose only way of communicating is screaming.
Fast-forward 2 years and 10 months of not sleeping through the night, and here we are smack bang in the middle of a potty training nightmare. This is the single biggest challenge in our parenting career. If she does not potty train by her third birthday, she does not progress to the next class at her crèche. The pressure is on and it is consuming me.
When I was in my late twenties, I could never have imagined that I would be singing impromptu potty training songs, and dancing around the loo, quietly screaming on the inside. Sometimes I scream (not so quietly) when she pees on the floor, repeatedly.
This is no longer just about “keeping the kid alive”. In my sleep-deprived head, my inability to get her out of nappies could affect her mental development! Oh the pressure.
There seems to be a general lack of skill amongst modern parents to get their little ones out of nappies. Experts in the UK recently revealed a huge rise in the number of children starting school without proper toilet training. Seventy percent of British primary schoolteachers have noticed a rise in the number of three to seven-year-olds wetting themselves during the school day!
Experts also say modern nappies are now so good that children do not feel wet after weeing, so there is really no motivation for toddlers to make the transition. Couple that with longer work hours for parents, it means it is very difficult to establish the continuity necessary to potty-train successfully.
So essentially, we are all just muddling our way through this. Old towels and plenty of floor cleaner seems to be the only way through. I also think a healthy dose of perspective is essential. It felt good bumping into another mom at the crèche whose son is almost turning three and resisting the toilet. I could see she was almost at breaking point, the tears welling up in her eyes, and I felt immediately a sense of solidarity.
Mothers, you are not alone! This too shall pass. Until the next challenge.