Growing Pains

I haven’t been at this parenting gig long, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be the one crying at tumbling class.

I’m the 33-year-old, after all, not the 3-year-old.

No, Izzy didn’t suffer an injury. I did. And not the physical kind that tends to heal more quickly than the emotional one.

After watching her classmates complete the circuit, Isabelle finally got her turn and halfway through it, she peed. On the mat. In her new leotard. In front of everyone. The poor teacher had to leave the class to fetch a janitor, who assured me that I didn’t have to clean up the mess, even though I felt it was my penance for … what? Bad mothering?

I gathered Isabelle’s things and hurriedly ushered her out of the gym while the other parents tried to guess what was happening.

“I guess one of the kids had an accident,” one mom said as we left.

With all the drama I could muster, I declared, “I’m horrified,” then burst into tears as we walked the long hall to the locker room. Encouraging words from the other adults in the hallway followed me, but I barely heard them.

It happens to everyone. I know this. But I’m still embarrassed. And it’s not like Isabelle didn’t go potty before class, less than 30 minutes before her accident.

Maybe if this had been a one-time incident, but it’s been a pattern for the last week. After going almost an entire week with NO accidents, she’s had at least one a day for the last several days. We can count on one finger the number of days in the last 10 that she’s been accident-free.


That’s the only word for it. I feel like eight months of patience and training (and impatience) has yielded nothing. We’re back to what feels like square one. Packing extra clothes for every occasion. Afraid to leave the house because she might have an accident. Anxious that she’ll pee during one of her “big-girl” classes.

I guess we can cross that last one off the list.

But I don’t know what to do. Bribery, threats (the harmless kind, like taking her out of swimming or tumbling class)  and guilt aren’t working. I feel like my kid is the last one on the block to be accident-free and potty-trained. (She’s going on 4.)

And, of course, that makes me a bad mother. At least it does in my head.

Fortunately, I guess, Isabelle wasn’t bothered by the whole incident. We found her a suitable change of clothes and she went back to tumbling class for the last few minutes. Enough time to jump on a bouncy mat with the other kids.

Now, I’m more embarrassed that I couldn’t handle the situation with grace and a cool demeanor. Probably I’m “that mom who cried” now. Whatever. Sometimes humbling and humiliating seem like the same thing.

But that’s part of the growing process — for both of us. It hurts, and sometimes I hate it. (See my post on the other things I hate about being a mom.)

I know it’s for my good, though. And hers. But don’t you sometimes wish you had it all together now?

How do you handle a situation like this? And what do you say to your kids?

And if you’ve got any magic tricks to potty training, send them my way. Like other things in my life, I’m ready to pray about it after trying everything else first.

If nothing else changes, prayer will change me, at least, and maybe I won’t be the one crying in tumbling class next time.