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.




9 thoughts on “Growing Pains

  1. Oh, I can relate! Our kiddo is 3 and I thought we’d have this potty training thing down by now since we started so early. Nope. And she doesn’t seem to have any interest in pooping in the potty any. time. soon. Bribery, threats, anything… nothing works.

    I am still a bit too nervous to go out in public without pullups for the kiddo which is probably delaying the whole process… but I envision I’d be / will be equally mortified as you were when an accident happens in public! When I run into humiliating incidents in public I just put my head down, avoid eye contact and focus on getting out of the store as calmly and quietly as possible… so hard to feel like people are staring. But you gotta do what you gotta do, and if there are any other mothers out there I’m sure they can relate too, even if they don’t admit it. 😉

  2. My daughter is almost 4 and we still have accidents, so don’t feel Isabelle is the only one. My son potty trained very late (that’s a whole other story) and wasn’t completely diaper free until his 5th birthday. I know the feelings of the looooooong process it can be for some kids and parents.

  3. I’m so sorry about your tumbling class incident. That sounds pretty sad. =( My kids have all had accidents in public, so I definitely feel your pain.

    One thing that I try to think of when something embarrassing happens to my kiddos is that it is happening to them, not to me & I get to be the one who helps them through it. It really helps me to handle things better if I separate myself from them a little bit if that makes any sense. Lucy really picks up on it when I am feeling like a bad mom, and she starts to feel like that means she’s a bad kid so I really have to watch myself & fake confidence even if I don’t feel it.

    Milo’s not potty trained yet. He rarely has a full blown accident (except in the night), but we have to change his underwear about a million times a day because he waits until the very last minute and dribbles (a lot) every time. He is by far my latest potty learner. Most days I don’t think it’s too big of a deal, although some days I worry. I really don’t think there are any magic tricks to potty training. I think they will just learn when they learn. If you are worried–you could take her to the Dr. to rule out a UTI or any other medical conditions.

    Bah, parenting is hard!

  4. I was the mom whose 4 year old clung to her and would cry–at every single event we tried to go to and I usually left either in tears or so frustrated that I was just mean to Grace because I wanted for once to not be stared at as she cried hysterically. I was also the mom of the kindergartener who peed everyday for the first 3 days. Oh and the boy at vacation bible school who peed two different days and the teenage helpers just looked at me and said “we didn’t know he needed to go” as I frantically tried to clean it up, with Kate on my back, hoping that Aaron didn’t attack some little boy because he was upset I left him with people he didn’t know.
    Each incident made me stronger, each incident made me more compassionate and emphathatic. Each incident taught me that I’m not alone in being that mom. With Aaron, we don’t go anywhere without double duty cloth underwear on because I know that he’ll decide to pee at the most opportun time.
    One day your going to be at a class, or the mall, or at church and some little kid is going to be his pants and your going to bend down, help him, look at the mom and give the “I’ve been there, done that, it does get easier” look. Then one day your going to be somewhere and Corbin is going to pee or poop somewhere and your going to look back and think “I got past this with Isabelle and I’ll get past this, too”

    It took me years–like 7 or 8–to realize that looking back, it wasn’t nearly as hard as it seemed at the time. Yeah, there are still going to be events that I go crazy (pretty sure just how I’m wired) and I may not necessarily get more patient, and my biggest potty training fear is that my kid will be the one who pees in the top tube of the McDonalds playland when it’s crowded with all the “cool” moms and their kids, but all the inicdents make us stronger and bring us closer together (because really look how many comments you had–LOL).

    • This is so great, Kendra! And so true!

      Lucy was the kid who peed in the top of the McDonald’s playland!! It was awful…I was stressed out & overwhelmed…Shawn was working like 65 hours a week and Milo was only a month or two old. I took the kids to McD’s to get out of the house & asked Lucy and Ruby to go potty when we got there, Ruby went, but Lucy refused of course. We got our food & Milo was screaming the whole time. Sat down in the playland area, took off everybody’s coats & shoes & the girls went off to play while I started nursing Milo. Pretty much as soon as I started nursing him Lucy runs back and says she has to go potty. ugh! I told her she needed to wait 5 minutes while I finished nursing Milo…apparently she couldn’t wait that long! She comes back soaked and crying and said that she peed up in the tubes!! Oh, man! Talk about bad mom!! So the crowded playland evacuates while I am left there with a soaked screaming child, a hungry screaming baby, and a sad-that-we-have-to-leave-already crying 2 year old. So I get everybody’s shoes and coats back on, pack up milo in his baby bucket carseat thing (which takes forever!!) While all the parents glare at me and make nasty comments and Lucy screams, “THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!! YOU MADE ME WAIT WHEN I TOLD YOU I HAD TO GO POTTY!!”

      Not my best parenting moment.

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