Have you ever opened a can of worms and wished you had not but it was simply just too late to go back to where you were before? This past weekend, Missy Moo, who has been potty-training for the past month and is doing a great job but of course, she is going to do things at her own pace and will do so as long as she is in control…(When I complain of this, my husband’s response is always, “Hello, Pot…Meet Kettle”…) had a small mental breakdown over the fact that she is now wearing underpants and mommy will not allow her to put on a pull-up unless she is sleeping. Here’s how it all shook down: Missy Moo and I are using the potty in our very small half-bathroom on the lower level of our home. If you have read earlier postings, you know that anytime anyone goes to the bathroom at our house, it is cause for all living beings under the roof to join him or her (this is especially enticing if it is mommy in the bathroom) for I guess maybe positive encouragement or to keep him or her company. God forbid we have privacy while using the restroom! However, if there ever was a cause for company in the restroom, it is during those early days of potty training because, like tying your shoe or riding a bike, there are steps involved that are just too difficult to verbally explain. Let me preface this by adding that I did not get home until 12:30 a.m. the previous evening due to an out of town dinner with Classic Old Spice with dental cronies and since he was attending a convention, he was gone until 5 p.m. on Saturday. If you are reading between the lines, this equates to a tired, six months pregnant mommy who is caring for a potty-training three year old and a pre-walker who cannot be left alone for even one second. When Missy Moo uses the potty, I quietly try to escort her to the bathroom so Bubba Boo does not catch-on and follow us in and as horrible as it may sound to hide from your one year old son in your own home, I know he is safe. Our house is completely baby-proofed (and will be for years) and I know we have a little bit of time before said son realizes we are no where within his visual range. This gives us enough time to jump-start the actually potty-process which could then prohibit him from attempting to play in the toilet or the small potty-chair (my skin curled each time I caught him doing this) or, as was the case last week, falling on the edge of the toilet thus resulting in his first black eye. In this small room are we with Ellie the WonderDog attempting to gain entry as well when Missy Moo throws out the “I want to put on a pull-up.” I calmly answer back that pull-ups are only for when we go to sleep but she simply repeated her request again. I then said that if she chose to put on a pull-up, she would have to go take her nap (this is at noon – way too early for nap) and of course, this was also not what she had in mind. When it sunk in that she was not going to be successful with this endeavor, she began to wail. I don’t mean a sad little cry but a full-on, shrieking fit with continuous screams that made me worry she was going to suffer from brain damage due to lack of oxygen for such a long time. When we get to this point, the options in our house are to stop throwing the fit or continue the fit but in the privacy of one’s own bedroom. Since she chose not to stop, I took Missy Moo up to her room to recover where she proceeded to have one of the biggest meltdowns she has ever had for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Bubba Boo was beginning to grumble because, after all, it was about 12:15 p.m. at this point and gosh darn, where was his lunch? God forbid that he go without food for more than two hours, so I kicked into my lunch mode of dicing and chopping for a young eater while Missy Moo continued to melt. Once Bubba found his happy place, I went upstairs to check on the eldest only to find one of the most pitiful sights I have seen in a long time. There in the middle of the room with her head resting on her bunny, Floppy, wearing nothing but her new butterfly shirt and her bare-bottom naked as a jaybird, was Missy Moo making those heartbreaking whimpering sounds that come after major fits and for all mommy’s I know, make us feel worse than Joan Crawford in “Mommy Dearest” no matter how “right” you knew you were. Her face was stained with tears and when she saw me she simply said, “I am not ready, Mommy.” Of course, at this point, my heart had melted and I immediately identified with the feeling of not realizing that you had crossed a major milestone in your life that once crossed, was too late to ever go back. Things that came to my mind were starting your period, your first job, your first sexual encounter, paying your bills for the first time and I am sure a myriad of other “majors” that I can’t think of right now but are monumental enough to chop your life into “before” and “after”. Anna Quindlen, a writer that I think walks on water and expresses thoughts and emotions with amazing clarity, describes this “before and after” thing in her book “A Short Guide to a Happy Life” with her mother’s death. She realized that there would always be a life she led”before” her mother passed away and then there was the “after” from that point on. Her life was divided in two and while I might be over-dramatizing Missy Moo’s potty-training experience by comparing it to such a serious event such as this, in her young life, this is huge. She does not yet know the utter heartbreak of losing someone you love whether through divorce, break-ups, or death. She does not know that bad things often do happen to very good people. She does not realize that sometimes lessons do have to be learned the hard way. Truthfully, I am all for her keeping this sweet innocence for as long as possible as I know it will be robbed from her sooner than I will ever be ready. However, because of this sweet innocence, things I think are “no big deal” and she should just get over are actually monumental events in her own little life as well because this is all she knows. She can’t go back to diapers and she can’t wear pull-ups when she is awake – isn’t this one of the first major milestones our children reach as they begin the process of sprouting their own wings? I can also identify with the feeling of being so excited for my newly-found independence and then being taken aback when I discovered that the grass was not always greener on the other side. Missy Moo has begun her life journey and while this should have been obvious to me three years ago when she was born, it is the actual heartbreak of life that molds us into who we are. The disappointments are the hands that shape our clay soul into who we eventually become and I can’t help but think these hands begin as early as the potty-training years. Keep molding your soul, dear one. Don’t ever stop because while your journey has just begun, if you are lucky, you will always be molding who you are.

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