Potty Training Sadness

I attempted for the first time to potty train Liam a few days ago. It didn’t go well, and right now I’m not exactly sure how I should proceed when I think the time is right. I think we failed this time because the little guy just either does not know when he needs to go or is not actually interested in trying to put it in the potty
I actually started this experiment because Liam has been giving me such a hard time about diaper changes. I’ve tried telling him that he can either wear diapers and endure changes, or he can go in the potty, but it has to be one or the other. I think that’s a reasonable policy. I don’t think he really understood me, so I guess I wanted to show what I meant. Anyway, I don’t want to go into all the details. I picked a bad time to try it and didn’t really know what I was doing and wanted to share my experience.
I love reading parenting blogs, but have essentially sworn off reading parenting books because I don’t like the preachy tone of the ones I’ve read so far and anyway, I need to find my own way in this, right? So, I’ve read no books on potty training. I wasn’t sure how to start. My best friend told me a little bit about a method where you leave your child naked from the waist down to facilitate sitting on the potty quickly and also so that the adults can see when the child is going. I actually did read about it online this morning, so there is a whole system and I would encourage anyone facing potty training to actually look up advice before starting. It worked for her nephew who is slightly younger than Liam. I don’t know whether we will try again this way properly when we feel the time is right.
So I was home alone with Liam all day, which is how you’re supposed to start. I didn’t have to go anywhere on this day. So I took my son’s diaper off, noted it was both full and warm and tried to get over my anxiety about puddles on the floor. I have no idea at what time of day my child needs to relieve himself, or even if he does so at regular intervals. So I was constantly, nervously, watching him to see if he was piddling, which meant that I spent the whole day (it seemed like) looking at my toddler’s wee-wee. I was also nervous about number two, so there was watching going on both ways. This did not feel good to me.
I KNOW it’s just leftover baggage from having been sexually abused by my own father. I know that very well. But knowing this does not take away any of my discomfort. You see, what I am finding (and this was not what the professionals warned me about, by the way) is that I worry that I have it in me to do the same things. I’m Liam’s mother, and I see his private parts several times a day currently, as we do diaper changes and baths. I try not to look too much. But I have to look. What if it’s dirty? What if it needs diaper cream?
He saw me looking yesterday, and I’m convinced he didn’t feel good about it either. He’s not able to tell me what he wasn’t feeling good about, so in fairness it could have been three or four different things causing his discomfort, but I’m sure having someone looking at him all day can’t have helped. My father started trying to see me naked when I was nine. I knew it was wrong and objected. He said, “I changed your diapers!” So that has haunted me I guess you could say. I don’t remember being in diapers. Maybe there is more to what he said than meets the eye. I watched my son and felt like there was something evil inside me that couldn’t be trusted
So all I’m really asking here is the million-dollar question: Will that feeling ever go away? Or am I doomed to struggle with it until my son is grown up and doesn’t change his clothes in front of me anymore? Will it even go away then? Will it dog me when I’m giving him hugs when he’s a young man? Will it ever end?
Well, whenever Mike and I decide to try again to potty train, I’m pretty sure I’m going to find a method that doesn’t rely on a naked tot and a vigilant mother. That combination is just not going to work for our family. And it’s not that I worry that he’ll never potty train because I know he will. I just want to know, When will I feel like a normal mother?


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. eliminationcommunication
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 23:29:55

    I am so sorry you are having such an inner turmoil. I wish I had words to make it better or advice for your situation. I read the sadness in your blog and I just wanted to at least let you know someone out there saw it and heard you.


  2. manama76Anita
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 08:31:55

    I’m a bit late catching up on my blog-reading, but I need to add my thoughts here. Nudity is not a requirement for potty-training success. In fact, I have a friend who has 8 children that has eliminated most of the stress from potty-training by simply buying her kid the underwear and telling them it’s there when they are ready to use it. Her kids are older when the PT, but so what? Nothing says you need to PT young, naked, or in a certain way. Don’t stress yourself trying to live up to a certain standard or expectation – even if it’s one you have for yourself. I think there are a few women that “motherhood” comes naturally to, but most of us are just winging it and insecure about our abilities – myself included.

    On another note, I think all of us with a parent that has a sexual deviation worry about repeating it. I had these same fears until recently, even though I had never admitted it out loud. However, I finally did write it down and examine the idea. One thing that helped was the question of whether I had ever been sexually turned on by . I could honestly answer no. The other thing that helps, I think, is a simple awareness that the behavior is wrong. If you are ever turned on by your son’s nudity, seek professional help. Otherwise, I think he’s in good, capable, trustworthy hands. You really are an awesome mother.


    • sleeplessinsummerville
      Oct 21, 2011 @ 14:21:18

      Thank you very much, Manama! I have been under quite a lot of pressure to start PT now, from my own Mom and I think from my in-laws as well, which trickles down through the husband. The thing I have come to realize is that none of these people has to live with the consequences of me putting underwear on my son when I know darn well he’s not going to use the potty. It’s definitely not worth the headache of trying to force it and it’s contrary to my parenting values besides.
      As for the issues with our own parents, it’s really hard to get all the way beyond it. We want to understand our parents, even if they were bad and that just brings in the possibility that we could be just as bad… But I think your larger point was that some people come hard-wired with inappropriate sexual preferences, and I KNOW I didn’t come hardwired that way. It’s just a fact that sometimes people do that without being hardwired to. It’s a really difficult thing to understand and once you know, it’s not easily dismissed. I mean, nobody really knows all the reasons why people who are not pedophiles offend against children. That’s all I’m saying…


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