Potty Training Is My Favorite Part Of Parenting

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shutterstock_95299348I love potty training.

It’s not because I love cleaning poop off my lap. And it’s not because I have a magic method that works instantly — I do elimination communication, which means I start “potty training” (in the loosest possible sense) at birth and continue for at least a couple of years. So even though my kids are out of diapers around their second birthday, I spend the entirety of those two years actively teaching them to use the potty.

No, I love potty training because it teaches me so much about parenting. And really, about life.

Take the first time I tried to get my daughter to pee on cue. I’d been reading about this “EC” concept since I was pregnant, and while it sounded like a great idea (with its big promises of working with your baby’s natural instincts, building her innate awareness of her body, transforming her poop into rainbows, and making her one with the universe), I was scared to actually try it. I didn’t think it would work.

But one day when she was two weeks old and had just woken from a nap, I took off her diaper, held her over the bathroom sink, and said, “Ssss.” She peed immediately, and after I picked her up from where I’d dropped her in shock (kidding) and finished screaming and jumping up and down (not kidding), I was struck –for the first time — with the realization that she was an actual person.

She wasn’t just a doll that could cry. She had her own needs, her own desires, her own dreams, her own bodily functions. And even at two weeks old, she had something to say. I asked if she needed to pee, and she said yes. It was our first conversation.

Of course there were plenty of messes. There was that time she pooped on my mother-in-law’s welcome mat. And then the time she peed on the library carpet. But there were many other times when I felt incredibly, almost magically connected to her, just because I was paying attention. Because that’s the thing about potty training. It makes you pay attention.

It’s easy to not pay attention. Sure, when your first baby is a newborn, you spend more hours gazing into her eyes than you did with your first crush. But at some point, after 3,678 rounds of Ring Around the Rosy, the shine wears off. I can only play Thomas for about 4.7 minutes before my brain starts to implode. As a stay-at-home mom to a toddler and a preschooler, I put a lot of energy into persuading my kids to entertain themselves so I can do something else — anything else.

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