What Good is Potty Training without Self-Examination?
The potty training process has been in full swing over the past month. We began with a couple days of intense training at home: Nekkid baby or in Doc McStuffins panties near tile/hardwood floor along with her fancy Doc potty.
Sawyer was clearly starting to recognize the sensation and was able to "hold it" for over 2 hours in the morning, however, after 3 days, and she still had not pooped, it became apparent I was stressing her out. There was no other reason for her to be constipated.
I put Sawyer down for her nap, and since it had been so long since she had pooped, I went to check on her when she was taking too long to settle down. Indeed she had pooped.
I said "Yay, you went poo-poo! That must feel better!" But there was no reaction even though she always responds by at least matching my excitement. In fact, she then looked away from me with tears welling in her eyes as she tried not to cry.
I asked her if she was sad and she replied with a sheepish "yes" while her voice cracked and chin quivered, I could tell she was holding her breath to keep the cry from coming out. My heart was breaking. She is just 26 months old and I have never seen her hold back her emotion like this.
I had made sure to give her praise for going potty and that it was ok to go in her diaper, that'd we'd try for the potty next time, but for some reason, it seemed like she felt she had disappointed me by going poo-poo in her diaper at nap-time.
I was crushed. Potty training aside, I never want my daughter to feel that she has to suppress her feelings. I never want my daughter to feel that she can't tell her parents about pieces of her life because the news might elicit disapproval, shame or some other adverse reaction.
As I sat there holding her, I told her it was ok to go poo-poo; it was a good thing! That if she felt sad, it was ok to cry. That I was so proud of her! All the while my mind flashed to the (not-so-distant) future of when she begins to make decisions outside of my supervision and whether or not I'm creating an environment for truthfulness with the proper amount of love, respect and discipline.
Isn't it that way with kids though? If we are at all invested in them and pay attention to the small responses like this, it forces us to take a deep look at how they really see us.
- Do we show disappointment where we should be more encouraging?
- When we encounter difficulty, do we allow emotions to control how we react?
- What takes up our free time? Or said another way, what are we worshipping?
- Are we hiding anything from our children? Our mistakes? Our love for our spouse?
When I think about how I want my daughter to flourish in her life (confident, spiritually secure, loved, challenged) it makes me take a deeper look in the mirror - am I emulating all the aspects of life I want so desperately for her? As I am home with her all day, my role in her life is arguably the most impactful for this stage of her life. As I teach her with my words, my actions are doing most of the instruction.
And while I want her to have a heart of repentance for sin, I do not want her to carry a burden of shame or worry, especially not for mistakes or misunderstandings.
So I make sure to make adjustments where necessary. To foster an environment for truth and encouragement. To ensure I'm living a life I want her to emulate. That I'm not hiding anything, including my emotions.
The day I stop allowing my daughter to reflect like a mirror into my own life will be a tragic day. I pray it never happens.