Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why Mums Lie To Themselves

I will forget how hard it was. I will forget the anxiety that crept up the walls, that permeated our lives.

The last six or so months will shrink in my memory into a few weeks. It will lose its potency.

The Mop, despite my fears, despite the trips to the doctors and hospital, despite her claims that she will 'never ever wear knickers ever'... is out of nappies.

Last Thursday, after some sage advice from my mother's group, I asked the Mop to collect up all her nappies and give them to her baby sister.

She bundled her remaining Huggies into her little arms and plonked them with gusto into Baldy's room. Knickers were procured. The potty was placed in the family room.

And that was that.

Except it wasn't that easy. It never is.

It's only been six days, yet I am already beginning to forget the months of begging her to consider using the potty, the toilet, the garden... wherever. The memory of my cheeks burning as I changed nappies on her three year old bottom at playgroup while kids less than two trekked in and out of the toilet. The false start.

The frustration and anger at how she would agree to wear knickers, but then refuse to use the toilet and hold it all in, for hours and hours, before wailing for her night-time nappy to release it all. Just to do it all the again the next day.

Then the intense anxiety of the early nappy-free days where she would pace around the room, eying the potty, clutching her bottom, like a caged lion eying its master. She would pace for hours, constantly moving, potty always in sight. She needed to go but she didn't want to go. As the hours ticked by and her pacing grew more frantic, I would feel the anxiety in the room heighten until I couldn't breathe.

Then she would finally, desperately rush to the potty, face contorted with fear and discomfort and she would pee forever. Then she would smile and stand and declare 'I did a wee' and point proudly. She would insist on tipping it into the toilet and flushing. All the fear and stress would dissipate.

Until the hours ticked by and the anxiety began to rise again.

I will forget all of this.

It’s easy for mums to have somewhat romanticised memories of major milestones. ‘My baby slept through from six weeks’ or ‘she toilet trained before two with no accidents.’

Sorry, but that’s bullshit.

Even in the rare cases it’s true it doesn’t help other mums: new mums who are struggling with night time feeds at 18 months, whose children still don’t sleep through at four.

The only account I tend to believe is from someone living through it at that precise moment in time. It’s only when you are knee deep in it that you can see it for the challenging and draining experience it is. It is a gift given to parents that time dulls the pain of nocturnal awakenings, that distance allows us to believe it was easier than perhaps it really was.

No one would ever have more than one child if we remembered things with any degree of accuracy.

So this is how I know that I will forget how trying the past few months have been. By the time Baldy Baby is ready to toilet train I will be telling myself that I convinced the Mop to give up her nappies one day and that was that.

But I don’t intend on having more babies so I don’t need to fool myself it was easy. It’s been bloody difficult. And it is far from over. Yes, she is out of nappies but she still won’t use the toilet. I have become one of those mothers who arrive at your house/playgroup/daycare with a potty under my arm. The fashion accessory of the modern mum.

I have written it all down now. So even if I do forget, please someone direct me back here when I am flailing around in a couple of years, despairing at how much harder it is to toilet train Baldy.

Because all I had to do was ask the Mop to give away her nappies. And that was that.

Wasn’t it?


  1. I thought it was just me toting a potty like the latest fashion accessory! Am looking for a bag to try and conceal it. Our three year olds would get on like a house on fire.

    1. They could sit on their potties and chat, as could we about the next big hurdle: How do we get them to move to the toilet?

  2. I dunno, that's uncharted territory! Let me know if you work out how.


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