by Sandra Modersohn
My husband and I have been blessed with five amazing children, and though I certainly do not feel I’m anywhere near a parenting expert, I sure have learned a lot in my 10-year career as a mother. So when the worry-free parenting topic came up, I thought it would be a simple thing to come up with something to tell you, some pearl of wisdom, some gem of my own discovering to lead you toward worry-free parenting. Instead, I find myself falling back on the very wise words my husband’s aunt once said to me.
I was a very new mother at the time, and I had the double blessing of being a new mother to identical twins. I’m afraid I was the kind of new mother who read all the books, checked all the milestones, and felt proud whenever a well-baby checkup revealed that my amazing daughters were hitting those milestones far faster than that mythical “average” baby. Things were going along perfectly, I thought. I didn’t realize just how uptight I was about it all.
And then we hit potty-training age.
There were so many things these sweeties were willing to learn and do for me. They were incredibly polite; knew all their colors, shapes, numbers, letters; and could even tell you the sound made by every single animal that could be encountered on a farm. I thought for sure we’d have them out of diapers in the blink of an eye.
I suppose you can guess that this training did not go quite as I had planned. All the bribing and rewarding simply didn’t manage to convince them that they didn’t need diapers any more. I tried off and on for months and months with not one bit of success.
During this time, we visited my husband’s sweet Aunt Mary. I had never met her before and she was so excited to meet her nephew’s wife and her great-nieces. Her home was warm and her arms were wide with loving hugs for everyone. Part way through our visit, I sheepishly mentioned that I needed to go change the twins. I sputtered out an apology, that we were trying to train them… had been for months…didn’t seem to be working. I’m fairly sure I wasn’t even very coherent as I spoke to her about it.
Dear Aunt Mary wrapped an arm around my shoulder and she leaned in a little bit closer to me. “Don’t worry, honey,” she said. “They aren’t going to get married still wearing diapers!” She smiled her big, warm smile and helped me change those babies as she told me stories about her own children and the things she thought they’d never learn.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that I instantly took Aunt Mary’s advice and just stopped worrying, because that isn’t the way these lessons are learned, is it? No, I kept worrying and pushing and trying—and eventually, of course, my sweet twins learned to use a bathroom, and so did their little sisters.
Through it all, though, Aunt Mary’s promise kept coming to mind, and now—10 years later—I have a baby boy who is wearing diapers. I don’t bother to track his every milestone and I won’t obsess so much over how fast or slow he is at learning to not need those diapers, because I know he won’t be getting married in them. I know now that this parenting thing is hard enough without adding to its challenges, pushing a child to do something before he is ready to. I know it’s all a lot easier to handle if I can remember to take the longer view. Aunt Mary said so very much with her one statement those many years ago, and I hope it can help you, too.
If you are nervous or upset about something your child is doing or not doing, learning or not learning—despite your best efforts!—try to remember that what is hard today will seem simple a few months from now. These worries will seem so silly 10 or 15 years from now. You’ll tell stories, laughing as you do, about these days. And if you’re potty-training a child right now, take heart! He will learn… And he won’t get married still wearing those diapers!
Sandra Modersohn is a veteran homeschooling mom of five and the founder of LittleLearningLovies , a website dedicated to the sharing of fun and creative resources for preschool and early elementary students.