Potty Training: The Tenth Circle of Hell


Potty training has to be the tenth circle of Hell. Even though the hideous process does have a bit of all the other sins wrapped up in it.


You’ve never known desire until you’ve pictured a life without diapers.


“Here! Here! Drink this juice box! Eat these salty foods! Now pee!”

“Please poop? Please, please pretty please? I’ll give you an M&M? Two M&Ms? An entire tube of chocolate chip cookie dough. ANYTHING! Just poop!”


‘Nuff said.

Potty training is hell. Well, it was for us. We’re not one of those “oh, my goodness, this isn’t hard at all! My child just stripped her diapers off one day and was perfectly trained within minutes” families. We took months and months and months.

My oldest daughter is a stubborn son-of-a-gun.


We tried, then backed off. Tried again. Backed off some more, this time with intense frustration. The third time it took. Kind of. If by “took” you mean we had to tell her that this is what was happening and there was no other choice in the matter.

It took more than a weekend. Way more than a weekend. It took yelling and crying. (And not just by her). It made my husband and I think that we had messed up and ruined her for life.

Potty training is hell.

And now…we have to do it again. We think our two-year-old is ready. She’s showing “signs” and she’s supposedly in that ideal “window”, the one we missed with our oldest daughter.

She may be ready, but we…we are not.

We looked at the calendar and tried to figure out a weekend to start. Between birthday parties and my work schedule and conferences, it was hard to find three open days in a row.

Then car rides become an issue. Because if we want to go diaper-free right away (instead of Pull-Ups), what happens in the car? Because with an older one in school, we can’t hole up at home with a stash of juice boxes and water like last time. It’s logistically impossible.

We finally picked a weekend. Then we totally chickened out. Psychologically psyched ourselves out. I was exhausted. He was stressed out about the playoffs that weekend. It might snow.

Aliens might invade Earth.


The sky could fall.

So, yeah. We haven’t potty trained her yet. A few years ago, we were both looking ecstaticly toward a future without diapers, yet we’re dragging our feet on making this a reality for some reason.

Because it’s hard.

Because it’s stressful for everyone involved.

Parenting is hard, especially when there’s a little creature who doesn’t behave exactly how you want her to at all times. (You don’t need to tell this to any parent grocery shopping with a kid in tow).

I’m not looking forward to the anxiety of potty training again, but I know I have to do it. Still, we’re going to wait a bit. To gather our strength. To wait until all of us are prepared.

Because you don’t want to dive down into hell without a plan.

We’re not chickening out. Obviously. No kid is going to end up at their senior prom in a diaper to match their fancy new dress. (Although that would be a whole new segment of the fashion industry).

But I know more now, the second time around. With my first, I was the most neurotic mom ever.

“OMG my supply! I must pump and pump and stress and stress and ahhhhhhhh!”

“She doesn’t like pureed green beans! She will never get enough vegetables and will get scurvy! (Is scurvy still a thing? Well, even if it’s not, it will be a thing again. It will sweep the world, starting in my dining room!)”

“She’s not talking a ton yet. Where are those sentences that my friends’ kids are speaking? That kid just sang a song! Why hasn’t my daughter joined some fancy kids choir group yet? Or the debate club! They have that for fourteen-month-olds, right?”

Me, neurotic? Are you surprised?

When our second daughter was born, things got better. I knew that she could go at her own pace with whatever and be fine. It made me less neurotic with both of my children, actually. Maybe because I’m so busy chasing them around stores that I don’t have time to worry about anything else.

(Also, to the poor, cling-wrapped watermelon in Market Basket, sorry for the teeth marks. Food shopping right before lunch wasn’t my best idea, I guess.)

So I know potty training will happen. I know full potty training will happen for everyone. When she’s ready and when we’re ready.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, though. When underwear is everywhere and everyone else’s kid is miles ahead of the curve.

But that’s the thing. Life has curves. Curves are what make the ride fun.


Instead of being “ahead of the curve” or “behind the curve,” why don’t we just all enjoy the ride?

Because the twists and turns of each child’s life make them who they are. So maybe other people have “potty trained in three hours, already speaking Russian and French, halfway-through Moby Dick” children.

I have mine.

I’ll take that, poop (or no poop) and all.




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2 Responses to Potty Training: The Tenth Circle of Hell

  1. Joan says:

    Jack was that annoying easy kid. Tessa was another matter. Pee was fast but she pooped her pants forEVER. But eventually she was fine. It truly does all work out in the end.


  2. Tricia says:

    Yup. We chickened out again, too. We need a firm deadline to get motivated–like starting preschool in September. 6 months is plenty of time, right? Right?!


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