I almost died while potty-training my son.
No, literally, I mean I almost killed myself trying to get my 2-year old to poop on the potty.
Here’s how this awesome mom-moment occurred:
My mother-in-law was a preschool teacher until she retired, and during that time, she raised two amazing sons. In the early years of my mothering, she’d come to visit and would unknowingly — and always in a well-meaning way — give me insight into her parenting experiences. This included the fact that she potty-trained both my husband and his brother by 16 months. **Please note that if you are one of these superhero moms who has mastered this mountain-moving feat, kudos to you! Can you hear me slow clap for you right now? However, I, on the other hand, was seriously struggling to master this elusive skill.
I love my mother-in-law dearly, but she would often say things directed to me as she spoke to my children. The truth is, I don’t think she even realized she was doing it, but I was able to pick up on her innuendos. For instance, she might say to one of my three kids, “Wow, your mommy must really love changing stinky diapers because Grammy would have you going poo-poo on the potty by now.” Then I’d catch myself stifling a sigh somewhere around the corner, feeling inadequate in my parenting. She didn’t realize her comments affected me but, they did. I began to feel like I wasn’t measuring up and that my children would be diaper-wearing adults if I didn’t put in more effort.
So, I decided to get serious about this potty-training thing. Thinking, If my mother-in-law can do it, I can too!
I began to vigilantly watch for evacuation signs that my toddler would display. Then, one morning, my mom-senses kicked in when I realized that my son, Elliott, had scurried around the couch to privately sumo-squat down to “take care of business.” I quickly scooped him up and ran to the bathroom. As he was sitting on the potty protesting, I crouched down in the narrow space in front of him, trying to coax his bowels into action. As he persisted in his pleas to get off the toilet, I doubled down in my efforts. I was committed to the exercise of proving to my mother-in-law that I was up for the task. But, in all of the half-bathroom chaos, I took one wrong step backward, crashed into the wall cabinet, and sent a large decorative glass vase, perched on the top shelf, careening downward — landing directly on my head.
When I came to, blood was dripping down my face, and my 2-year-old was crying on the toilet. So, what did I do?
I started to cry too.
Epic mom fail.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced knocking yourself out in front of a potty-perched 2-year-old, but this was an all-time low for me, both literally and figuratively. So, I slowly stood up, took some deep breaths, and prayed out loud. “God, I am not able to handle this right now. Please help me know what to do.”
In the grand scheme of parenting, potty-training is one life skill that our children will eventually master, and in that tiny bathroom filled with cries, broken glass, and pain, I felt a peace that it was all going to be okay. Then I lifted Elliott, looked at him, and said, “Mommy is okay, and so are you. We will work on this when we’re both ready.”
At that moment, it was me who learned a valuable lesson — not Elliott. I don’t need to compare myself to any other mother, even if it is my mother-in-law.
Most often, the ones we’ve stacked ourselves up against have no idea that we are silently judging our worth (for good or bad) based on how we measure up to them. This can create such tension and make relationships difficult to navigate — especially when one person is stuck in their own mental gymnastics, and the other is oblivious of the comparisons being made.
James 3:16 says, “For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” (NLT) And though I wasn’t jealous of my mother-in-law’s successes, the motivation of my heart wasn’t pure. I wanted to prove that she wasn’t the only fantastic parent; my ambition was selfish, and it brought disorder and chaos.
Sometimes, we lose sight of where we are in our own journey.
We do a disservice to ourselves when we compare our homes, spouses, children, jobs, appearance — or even potty-training mastery — to someone else. We get caught up and sometimes knocked out, trying to measure ourselves to the successes of others.
Let my lesson be a comfort to you the next time you start to slip into the comparison game. Just remember that it’s okay to be content with where you are in your journey.
I love 2 Corinthians 12:9 and the gentle reminder that, His grace is sufficient for us, and His power is made perfect in our weakness.” Whether we fall short or feel inadequate, God will equip us with the exact measure of grace and favor to meet every exciting and challenging thing that motherhood brings!
Grace & Peace,