Roman is three and only a few short weeks ago he was still in nappies during the day and night. I felt like I'd failed him and myself. When he was old enough to sleep a little longer and give me a little more time to think thoughts that didn't revolve around, 'when I will sleep again?!' and 'I can't stand this feeding every 40 minutes thing!', I began to think about when that magic age would be to get him out of nappies. So when he was 7 months, I bought a potty. We caught some pee in it, much to his and my delight, and every night before his bath he'd pee on it if cued. But that's the problem; if cued. Not because I felt he was ready both emotionally and physically. And you know, if you want to try potty training a 7 month old then go for it, but I didn't find it doable or realistic to our schedule or lifestyle at that time.
So I kept the potty because I knew we'd hit the magic age one day. But when exactly would that magic age come? I wasn't really sure so I'd try every few months to get him interested in using the potty. Sometimes he'd really want to try and show a great interest in it, other times he'd put it on his head and claim it as his hat. Around the 18 month mark he started to show an interest in the toilet again and out came the potty...well instead of going for a pee in his potty he would use his Bumbo seat. My mum then bought him a turtle toilet seat that he loved the look of but freaked out when placed on.
After that I gave up and decided we'd really go at potty training after his 2nd birthday. Well he turned 2 and in March I bought him lots and lots of dinosaur pants. He just didn't seem to get the fact that he wasn't supposed to pee in these despite me putting him in them all day, giving him plenty to drink, rewarding him (worst idea ever for a 2 year old), taking him to the toilet and offering up plenty of reminders. I honestly felt like it was never going to happen but then something funny or endearing would happen and it kept me going. One of my best memories of trying to potty train a 2 year old was one Saturday morning, when I was having a lie-in, and Bryan was in charge. I was woken up with a little voice shouting, "Quick, quick, quick, quick!" and little foot steps running to the bathroom to try and make it to the toilet on time. But that one time was a rare occasion and for the majority of the time it was me cleaning up pee off our carpet. In my mind I just knew it wasn't the right timing so by the end of April I gave up pushing the issue and waited for Roman to ask for pants which he never did.
Throughout 2012 we made various attempts at potty training, most of which seemed to work at first but then failed miserably. Trust me when I say I was desperate to get Roman out of nappies but I was also not too keen on forcing the potty or toilet onto him. I was also riddled with first time parental guilt for keeping him in nappies. Most of the blogs I read were stories of 2 year olds fully potty trained and walking around dry in public...I honestly began to question if something was physically wrong with Roman. He would seriously not stop peeing and there were times when he'd make successful trips to the potty all morning and then pee on the floor all afternoon. I was frustrated, full of guilt and stuck on what to do and who to turn to.
When my mum was around in August I spent an afternoon quizzing her about it. As expected all four of us were toilet trained either at 2 years or before and after this age. "Are you joking?" I asked, totally defeated. My mum told me that although we were using the toilet there were always accidents. I mean I remember being 4 years old, at school, too scared to ask to use the toilet and being so full to bursting that my bladder would empty - embarrassing, yes, but I was shy and didn't find my voice in school until I was a little older rather than not having bladder control. I honestly felt like crying, giving up and letting my guilt eat me from the inside. This isn't how I expected this to be.
"I don't think Roman is ready to use the toilet full time," my mum told me and it was these words, although they'd been said by Bryan many times before, that really took me out of my weird guilt ridden state. Although I didn't want to admit this truth, I knew she was right. I just hadn't allowed myself to see it because I'd been so fixated on that 'magic age' crap and I'd compared myself, and Roman, to other parents and their peeing-in-the-toilet-toddlers. "When he's ready, he'll let you know and there will be no stopping him," my mum said to me, very gently. Huge weight off my shoulders and huge sigh of relief. And sometimes when you get a point of view from the outside looking in it really helps.
I can't say my guilt or comparing went away, because it didn't. There were times I just felt ashamed of Roman being 2 years old and still in nappies and there were more times than I care to admit that I compared myself to others. Then something magical happened; whenever there were blog posts about toddlers learning to use the toilet, I didn't read them. Whenever well meaning parents would humble brag about their peeing babies or toddlers I would silently, and gently, tell myself; it's okay, you're not them. And Roman isn't that child. He's your child and he'll do this in his own time, when he's ready and he'll let us know when that time comes.
I stopped giving a crap - excuse the pun ;) - and got on with being a parent to my child. Because, really, that's what matters. Making sure you and your child are happy and doing what is right for you. Things like potty/toilet training will happen when they happen but it shouldn't sap the life out of you or consume your thoughts. I began to relax about everything after speaking to my mum because she was someone I could trust not to say something awful, crappy or disrespectful and she pointed out something that I was too scared to admit. Roman wasn't ready, he really wasn't. I didn't use to believe in 'readiness' for toilet training and to a point I'm not sure where I stand on that issue today but clearly your child needs to be emotionally set up and prepared for moving out of nappies and then match that emotional readiness to physical control and readiness.
Roman didn't crawl until he was almost 11 months, didn't pull himself up to stand until the same age, didn't walk until he was 18 months and for all of those things I can tell you this: he is an observer. He likes to watch how things are done and then practice them once or twice until his technique is where he wants it to be. When he began walking he moved like an unsteady baby zombie for a few days until one day he was steady, sure and completely confident. All through these stages I have been paranoid, worried and full of guilt. Constantly believing I was doing something 'wrong' or that something was physically wrong with Roman - which is easy to think when you're physically messed up. The 'problem' that isn't really a problem is that Roman is a person who likes to do things on his own terms and at his own pace without rules or restrictions around that. I like to think I haven't put any barriers or anxieties around his physical growth, even though I've been riddled with worry and guilt I've always tried to not put that on him. The only 'problem' was me and my worrying ways.