Lessons from Potty Training


I’m potty training.  Again.  This is kid number four, so I’m kinda over it.  And when I say kinda, I mean EXCEPTIONALLY over it.  You would think the idea of a diaper free household would be enough motivation to light a fire under my butt to just get it done, but that just hasn’t been the case.  I have a sort of “laissez faire” approach to the whole thing.  And what I mean by that is I train her when I want to, when its convenient for me.  When is it convenient, you might ask?  The answer: not that often.   Somehow, and clearly not because of my efforts, she is catching on.  We’re not about to drop the pull-ups and dive into the world of undies, but we’re moving in the right direction.

On Saturday we were at home, everyone playing semi-independent, when Abby arrived in the living room dressed in her birthday suit, or as she refers to it,  “nakey-butt.”  She announced with a joy filled and equally devious smile, “I poopy.”

“Where?” my husband and I asked in unison.

“The playroom” she shot back nonchalantly.

We rose with the kind of immediacy that accidents in a room with carpet solicit.  From the doorway we scanned the carpet and lounge chairs. There was no poop to be found.  Her differentiation between “poopy” and “pee pee” isn’t always overly accurate so we began feeling for wetness.  Nothing.

“Where?” we posed the same question again.

“Up there” came her sweet little voice and a finger pointing at the top of desk (which we use as a lego table).

Our eyes scanned the table and what we found you won’t believe.  Sitting on top of the desk was a plastic bowl.  The kind we use for snack items like goldfish and apple slices. However, at this moment in time the bowl was not home to popcorn, it was home to poop.

Realizing she needed to relieve herself, she climbed up on the table and somehow, I will never know how, done her duty into the smallish snack bowl.

I’ll say it again, “How?”

Michael and I had the same instinct.    Praise her for what actually was a step towards the end goal.   In between fits and spurts of laughter we said,

“Good job, Abby.  Just next time don’t poop it in the snack bowl, do it in the toilet.”  (Once again, another line we would have never dreamed we would utter in our lifetimes)

Oh boy.  After I collected myself and we had dealt with the excrement I thought, “Isn’t it funny how something can be so right in some ways and yet so wrong in others.?”

It’s a little hard to transition from this ridiculous story to something more serious.  But this potty training conundrum got me thinking a bit.

We were so quick to praise her for the part she got right and so quick to literally dispose of the part she had done wrong.  It hit me later, “why don’t we extend that same kind of grace to ourselves?”

Why are we so inclined to fixate on the what’s lacking rather then focus on what’s abundant?  Why do failures steal the show when successes deserve to drive the story?

My emotions have surprised me with the release of this Bible study.  I expected to be excited.  You know, the kind that starts in your toes and creeps all the way up, the kind that’s in your bones.  And I have been.  But it’s been tainted by all kinds of other “thought junk,”. At least, that’s what I am calling it.  Its been exhilarating, but equally horrifying.

What if they hate it?

What if no one cares?

What if after a fews weeks no wants to buy it?

What if after the initial excitement, all I’m left with is my heart poured out in black and white on pages, and no one else is even interested?

What if?

My insecurities have bubbled up and over the surface and I can’t seem to squelch them.  The “what if’s” are driving the conversation, and they don’t deserve to.

I’m battling.  I’m fighting, because that thing that is right, I’m making wrong.  I’m taking something that is enough in and of itself and emptying of it’s inherent value.  Can you identify?

So I’m vowing to you, and to myself, and most importantly to God to quit this nonsense.  Of course, this is a vow I will take not just here and now, but later today, and then tomorrow morning, and again and again.  Because, let’s be honest, our insecurities don’t shut up as easily as we would like them to.

I’m going to revel in the small victories.  I am going to really settle in and sit in them, bathe in them, if you will.  I’m going to quit thinking about where I think I should be, and enjoy where I am.  And I’m going to celebrate the good.  I’m going to let success steer the ship.  And I’m going to really relish the view as that boat takes me into the horizon of another perfect sunset.  Join me, it’s going to be a good ride.

Christy Fay