“Pee pee is not my favorite.”
My 3-year-old shared this bit of insight with me as she tried to shake off the wetness running down her pant legs. As I changed my distraught little girl, I heard my YouTube-obsessed 11-year-old daughter giggle from the next room; she had been secretly recording the emotional exchange between me and her sister. So, I had to quickly transition from wiping tears and a tushie to disciplining a pre-teen.
My girls are 8 years apart and experiencing completely different developmental rites of passage at the same time, which means that Puberty and Potty Training are currently sharing a bathroom in my home. The former ‘P’ lends itself to long showers that drain the water heater, arguments with Mom about the best way to part hair, and the insistence of privacy. The latter ‘P’ brings us M&M thievery, arguments with Mom about the need to “go”, and the complete absence of privacy. Both provide ample opportunities for #parentingfails.
My preschooler is so far from being potty trained that we don’t even spend the extra money on pull-ups anymore. I’ve given up on pointing out that her 2-year-old friend is already potty trained or on showing exaggerated excitement every time we pass princess panties at Target. Although I know she’s old enough to be out of diapers, I’m enjoying the fact that I can take her to a park and not have to mentally note where the nearest (and likely disgusting) public restroom is. I appreciate that we can take a road trip without stopping every hour. And full disclosure, I secretly like that buying diapers for her makes me still think of her as my baby girl. If she were my first, I’d probably freak out about stunting her development or worry about judgment from other moms, but there’s truly a sense of freedom in being an older mom. I’ve finally learned that there’s no need to rush. I’ve yet to meet a grade-schooler still in diapers, and I have a feeling that my little girl will soon just wake up one day and decide on her own to use the potty consistently. But for now, she’s just not interested.
My 11-year-old, on the other hand, seems to be very interested in growing up. She is in the very early stages of turning into a young woman, but in her mind, she knows just as much as an adult knows. Her opinions, mood swings, and need to sleep in can be frustrating, and the realization that her teenage years are just around the corner is quite overwhelming. However, she’s at an age that allows me to truly visualize her as an adult and experience her fully developed personality. I get to guide her in a completely different way and can visualize the caring, empathetic, creative woman she will become.
There are so many stages of childhood that make us question what the heck we’re doing with these little people invading our space, while also sadly recognizing that the passage through each of these stages means that our children are getting older and will be adults before we know it. Sometimes, they stall out in these chapters of their lives, but sometimes they fly right through them, leaving us breathlessly wondering where the time went. It’s typical to look ahead for when a difficult phase will end instead of embracing all the life that happens during the waiting. Puberty and potty training are not my favorites, but the life that we’re living in the meantime truly is.