Stuck in the Rabbit Hole

I’m perplexed.

First Kaia takes on a new hobby of ripping off her soiled diapers while still in her crib, painting with a hue I don’t even want to describe. Later, while contemplating why her Color Wonder markers won’t show up on the walls, she notifies me immediately when she “drops a deuce” (oh, Jason, how you changed my poop dialogue forever) in her diaper again. She obliges me by doing a STOP-DROP-AND…, splaying out her body ready for a diaper change.

And I’ve yet to muster up the follow-through to really make a true attempt at potty-training.

All my life I’ve plagued by this disease, never able to pick up the proverbial ball lying in my court and run with it/volley it/kick the shit outta it. And this is why I’m perplexed lately.

I don’t know what the catalyst really needs to be in order for me to start a regimen of potty training, or binky-weaning, or a switcheroo to a toddler bed, or decent effort to re-introduce greens, or regular tooth-brushing for Kaia. Is this some twisted and deeply psychological sign that I’m not giving her the space and tools to really grow up and have a taste of independence? Am I really the ultra-lazy sloth – and thus the terrible mother – I think I am?

It’s why the flour that Kaia spilled on the kitchen floor this morning is still there swirled with tips of tiny fingers and fresh with patterns of a measuring cup pressed into it. It’s why dirty diapers litter the bar top and crumbs remain smudged into the cracks of the sofa. It is why I shuffle past one of Kaia’s masterpieces scribbled with crayon on my walls every day and say “I need to clean those”.  And don’t. At least I can say that the catalyst for these offenses has been identified and it’s called: Company.

Please don’t knock on my door today.

All I can think of is the old red-neck routine that starts with “Here’s your sign…” And now I’m the recipient of said sign. And its message is scrawled across a piece of cardboard from a box that’s been sitting in my office – opened and empty – for months. Taking up space. Being stepped on. Gathering dust balls.

My life reeks of half-assedness and is saturated with the stench of constipated habits. It longs for one of those thoughtfully followed schedules, laminated and stuck up on my fridge, overseeing my life (the one I created once still remains on my computer, filed under RIDICULOUS!). It pines for lists – completed and checked off. It wants to be inundated with the perfume of routine and the sweet taste of motivation. I need an overhaul, an extreme makeover, a resdesign. My mama life needs to be pimped, MTV-style.

But instead I am left feeling more Punk’d than Pimp’d. And cute litle sneaky Ashton is nowhere in sight.

Mamas, can you share with me what your catalysts have been in regards to things like potty-training and binky-weaning? I am a proponent in child-led potty training and have thus far not tried to actively prompt her to use the potty (save for a few opportune times in which she was not having it). But methinks the above scenarios are screaming for intervention of some sort. Because I can only deal with the tea tree oil and scrubbing crib rails for so long.


14 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    Well I really liked what she had to say in Diaper Free Before Three. While she doesn’t necessarily believe in “readiness” she believes that it should be fun and something that you incorporate into your routine. Felix is not really interested that much either but we offer the potty a lot and never insist. Sometimes he sits on it for a long time – sometimes with clothes on and sometimes without – other times he confidently says “no!”

    Other than that, I feel like you – kinda clueless sometimes about how to guide him towards more independence with pushing him. It is easier for me because he goes to day care part time and will probably learn how to do it there! Although we are weaning off the breast right now…he is down to once per day in the morning.

  2. isabel says:

    I had to be dragged into potty training and I was none too happy about it. I’m not even sure why it bothered me. I just never wanted to make the effort. I finally did and it took Leo all of two days before he was peeing in the potty every time, without accidents. that’s how ready he was. For me, it ended up being less work then I had imagined.
    Mostly, I’m just lovin you right now for telling it like it is, for admitting what I so often feel, that my life is chaos and getting away from me, my fear it is my laziness, my desire for some kind of magical “routine”.
    Good luck. One way or another, I’m guessing she won’t be in diapers by the time she moves out of your house. 🙂
    love you

  3. Chelsea says:

    Ah mama, you are not the only one half-assing it…. If you could see my house right now – frankly, I would be ashamed….

    We are in the midst of pl’ing right now – Rosie has her best success when I let her go naked – and keep her little potty chair in the room with us – she announces “I have to go potty” and then promptly sits and does her business on her own. We then celebrate with a “pee-pee dance”. We have only been doing this while at home for the past couple days – and have had NO accidents while naked. When in her diaper, or underwear, she has no problem peeing and pooping in those, but when naked, she seems to get it – and it is working like a charm so far – with absolutely NO effort from me (aside from helping to take off her clothes and turning the heater up a bit). In fact, uncoincidentally, while I was writing this, she peed on her own and just called my attention to it – gotta go – “pee pee dance” time 🙂

  4. Brooke says:

    God, don’t we all have these moments? No, its more like weeks. Really.

    And it is hard in this blogosphere to represent for the real mamas. It is hard, I think, not because we want to deceive and create visions of perfection, but because it is easier to write on the days when the dishwasher is loaded, the sheets are clean, the kids are behaving and you know what you are cooking for dinner. And, Voila! You have a record of those easy days. So thanks for taking the time to share and question and lay it all out there in the midst of living with your constipated habits.

    I too am a creature/victim/acceptor of habit. It is soooo hard to make changes. One gem I’ve held onto for many years, a sentiment that takes the pressure off when I am beating myself up over things I want to quit doing or want to do differently or better or whatever and it comes from one of Paramahansa Yogananda’s books. He says something like this (and I am paraphrasing here):

    If you want to stop bad habits, slowly cultivate good ones instead.

    To me this means that when the desire to say, drink a diet soda hits me, I can choose to drink a glass of water or tea FIRST. Then, if I want to, I can drink my diet coke. At least I have also made an effort to cultivate a better habit. Does this make sense?

    Maybe it means that when you want to have a totally clean house all the time, just commit to sweeping the kitchen floor each night before bed, or rinse all your dishes after a meal so they aren’t crusty when you finally get to them.

    It can also mean that you choose one category of change you’d like to make with Kaia – binky, potty, sleeping, or whatever and then do just a very, very tiny PIECE of that.

    Soon, the wave might take over. And, it might not. But at least it will be a tiny bit better than it was before.

    Mostly, I just wanted to say you are not alone.

    The other thing, specifically about potty training, was that I couldn’t even begin trying with Satchel until I knew it would work. I didn’t want the angst. But I did let him go naked as much as possible so he learned how his body worked and he DIDN’T learn to associate the pooping reflex with the feel of a diaper on his bum (I had heard that this is hard to break). Then, I waited until he brought it up. One day he asked why he used diapers and I told him why. He said that he didn’t want to use them anymore, he stripped off the diaper and he never used a daytime diaper again. But Leigh, he was 3 years and 2 months old! I waited a looooong time for that kind of easy transition. There were alot of diapers between Kaia’s age and 3.2. Hang in there.

  5. americanmum says:

    To me it sounds like she *IS* leading you toward the potty…

  6. mb says:

    oh my star sister, we are so alike.

    i hate forced changes, i want them to all morph and transform organically, after they have spent time preparing in their own perfect chrysalis. But, I do believe, looking back, that I could have made some things a bit easier by being a better ‘guide’ for change. But when it comes down to it, damn, I’m lazy.

    With Mia, I let her go naked and put a potty at both ends of the house. She eventually just started sitting on it anytime she had to ‘go’. After 6 months or so of that, I let her leave the house with just her fancy little undies on. Let’s just say I always took spare clothes, numerous outfits, on the road and we’d use them. the carseat cover got washed constantly. I think you have to surrender to lots of pee and poo around while you let them explore life without a diaper. Eventually, it just happened with Mia. I never really thought about training, though. I just didn’t want two kids in diapers, so I took the diapers off the older one.

    Sula is just now interested in the potty. I don’t know how or why because I have not even put a kid potty out, (AGAIN, SO LAZY) but most of the time when she is diaperless, she tells us she has to pee OR she asks for a diaper. I let her decide. But this her. She totally and utterly weaned herself from the breast. One days she nursed. The next day all she wanted to do was “touch’. La Leche League would tell me I am crazy, and that no 2 year old would do that on their own, but she DID IT ON HER OWN. Mia, we struggled. You know that. It was intense and painful and a push pull between NEEDING her to stop and LETTING her stop on her own.

    There is a fine balance between leading and following. I question how much I need to ‘train’ or ‘wean’. I think one of the things about how we’d like to parent (and how we mostly do parent) is that we trust they are moving in their direction at their own speed. Just like birth, life and death…how can we know the right timing? We trust. We let it happen. All we can do is be there, ready and waiting and intuitive; a little light while they travel their tunnel. Kaia will figure it out, but right now she wants to play in her poo! You can struggle with that. But I’d just put some potties around, make them look exciting, sit on them yourself and pee. Put Indi over it. As for the paci…she loves them so much. That is a hard one. What else can you do besides take it away….or let her stop on her own? let he have them just nap and bed?

    Right now I am really trying to make the same kind of shift, but with the whole ‘bedtime’ thing. We never sleep trained; they always slept with us, nursed to sleep, rocked to sleep…etc…And now, while we ready to add another to the mix, we are like: there is no room in the bed for all of us! and we loathe the thought of the struggle that will happen while I am with a newborn. I am at loss with this. Especially because my kids thrive on the high of sleep deprivation.

    I love you so. You may be half-assed, but you are one amazing 1/2 assed mama. I look up to your style and grace. I am here for you always.


  7. I love this post (surprised?), and every comment that followed it. We’re also nowhere near potty training with Evan, aside from a resounding “NO!” whenever we ask him if he’d like to try the potty. We’ve tried bribing him with chocolate chips, the tackiest frigging walmart-gotten, curious george underwear you’ve ever seen (a.k.a. the COOLEST underwear he’s ever seen) … all to no avail. He’s just not ready, so we aren’t pressing the matter. He’ll be three in just over a month.

    Kaia and Indi will not remember the smudges and crumbs and company-unreadiness. They’ll remember the love and laughter and ease of being with you. Given how bright you shine here, virtually, I can only imagine how lovely you shine for them in real life, even on the days when you feel like you’re coming apart at the seams.


  8. BO says:

    The answer is…….. you are just like mom. TaDah! While i hated stumbling over piles of clothes and messes of every sort as a child, which in turn turned me into mr. anal-everything-has-its-place-and-dont-move-it-on-pain-of-death, it obviously had the opposite effect on you. You relish the memories of your childhood homelife soooooo much that you recreate it in the same pile up the clothes in the corner and dont clean up the dog poo under the desk way that we lived in as children. Either that or you are just plain lazy. blah blah psycho babble blah blah. lots of luv, me.

  9. Joanna says:

    Leigh: I can’t offer much wisdom, because I have my own self that I am working on, constantly. On the other hand, I am too uptight, often too structured, and I read your words and think, ‘I wish.’ The only true thing I’ve learned in recent years is you can’t really change; I mean, what’s fundamental to you as Mama or your kids. I constantly work on what I perceive as my flaws, but I know now that in a year, I won’t be the opposite of me now. And when I attempted to PT Liam last October, 6 weeks before he turned 3, he fought me on it in his own toddler way. I read the books, posted to message boards, and worried. He was going to be THREE – and, in four months coming, I desperately didn’t want three in diapers. And then, sometime around late December, as I found myself having to give up on certain things I had no control over (moving, his PT, etc), I did give on it. I let him be. And four weeks later, he showed me he was then ready. He went from a diaper to underwear (during the day) with only three accidents to date, overnight. It was all him.

    I suppose I gave him the tools – left the potty chair out, bought the cool underroos and made a big cha-cha over how ‘cool’ they were. When he started actually DOING it, I gave the M&M’s as rewards. But it was really all on him, intrinsically.

    Now, having said this: know, my friend, that this isn’t a perfectly wrapped package. The boy, turning four in 6 days, still poops in a Pull-Up. That, I couldn’t work with him on. He fought me again. He’s had constipation problems since birth, so on that point, I let it go as well. He’s just about the only kid in his peer group I know still doing this. And it’s entirely unlike me to be so lax about it. But I am because it’s just him, and I know we will figure this out. We are about to turn a corner on it with him, as we’ve told him for a month now that once he’s four, we need to start trying poopy on the potty. He gets it. We’ll see how it goes, next Thursday. I might be writing in with angst all over again.

    How old is Kaia (my apologies). If she’s not close to three year, I wouldn’t worry too much. Like I said, you can start with the basic tools anytime you feel she’ll be interested. But it will only work when she starts to own the experience.

    As for the flour on your floor: good for you. Like I said, I wish. I really do. (Hugs always).

  10. It is now December, and starting to get really cold here (bear with me … there’s a point to all this). We have hardwood and tile floors, which make for really cold feet, even in socks. I discovered Padraig slippers last year, and am utterly in love. But M has obviously outgrown them, and needs a new pair. I can buy them online, but am uncertain about sizing. There is a woman about 30 minutes from me who sells them on her website, and thinking she was a store, I called her last year and asked if I could come in and try some on. She explained that she works out of her home, but graciously invited us over. M and I tried them on and got just what we needed.

    I have been meaning to do this again for weeks. No, not weeks — over a month. M’s poor feet are little ice cubes in her socks. And yet, I just haven’t done it. Haven’t made the call. Haven’t even looked up the phone number. I’ve berated myself over and over as the weeks have gone by. What is so fricking hard about calling this woman and taking care of it? Yeah, I’m lazy and we’ve had one cold after another, and I don’t want to leave the house. And yeah it’s annoying that it isn’t a store, and I can’t just show up whenever I want to. But shit woman! Deal with it!

    I have also been intending to buy another pair for myself. The ones from last year were broken in weird, and now they’re falling apart because I’m walking partly on the side instead of the sole. I realized the other day, as I grunted and huffed to apply my disintegrating slippers around my ever-expanding belly, that I didn’t want another pair like this. It made much more sense to get the slide-on style. Of course! I’m only going to get bigger, and that will make life so much easier.

    And suddenly, it dawned on me. If I had taken care of this errand a month ago, or even two weeks ago, I would not yet have hit the belly point I’m at now. Not yet big enough to remember what a pain in the butt it is to get things on and off my feet. By waiting and “procrastinating” and “being lazy,” I actually ended up exactly where I need to be. I will now be much happier with my choice, and for $50 a pop, I want to be happy!

    Does this mean leaving flour on your floor all day will somehow end up having cosmic meaning? Probably not. But I think we all need to learn to stop beating ourselves up. I so often realize in hindsight that the resistance I felt to doing something (which I always mistake for laziness) actually had a purpose.

    Love yourself, my dear. Just love yourself. You are perfect the way you are.

  11. Heather says:

    Found your blog through Earth Hearth. I just read through a few posts and laughed when I saw this one. Here is what I did for the house cleaning.

    It’s kind of cheesy but really helped my scattered brain to develop different habits. 🙂

  12. Megan says:

    Oh Leigh. You know me; I’m a world class half-asser. I’m putting off trying to get Sofia to fall asleep on her own. I know it’s going to be an all-night job (and probably a few nights) and is going to take some stamina (and probably a battle of wills), so I am definitely putting it off. And part of me just doesn’t want to do it period. But I know the longer I wait, the more impossible it’ll become. * sigh*

  13. Kelly says:

    I am soooo loving you right now!! I needed to see other people like to leave the cleaning until it “HAS” to be done (aka..someone coming to visit). marrying into the family that has to be clean or else, it is nice to know that not everyone is that way.

    Someone said it right in their comments, the kids won’t remember the messy house they will remember the fun games that you played with them, that you took the time to relish them rather than being more concerned about what the “neighbors” thought.

    Potty training will happen. Making it fun is the key. At least that was my experience with my boys. Cameron loved to flush. The game was if he went in the potty he got to flush, otherwise he couldn’t. We spent many hours reading while sitting on the potty. Ry was not nearly as easy, but he did enjoy flushing too. There is never anything wrong with Bribes either!!

    Good luck!!

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