Ep. 20 || When Potty Training Is a Struggle - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen here. Today, we are excited to announce a new project Em, that we have started. We are introducing free printables. We’ve been working with a neat Etsy shop called, Give It Pretty. She is a dear friend of ours, the owner of the shop, and she has been gracious enough to offer to design free printables for all of you guys.

Emily and I have worked with her to figure out some of the things we want to offer. Our first card is a simple little four by six. The quote is, “Live in light of redemption.” Our idea was that you could stick it in your Bible or put it in a small frame on your wall, or put it in a journal, as a reminder of who you are and what has been done for you. That it would be the short sentence that could help you to redeem your day. It’s what we’re all about here at Risen Motherhood, which is why we chose it as our first printable saying. Some of the others will be quotes or things people say that are inspirational; people that are smarter than us. We thought this card could be a great jumping off point for all of you moms.

Put it over your kitchen sink - that’s where mine is - of a reminder when I’m doing those dishes, of how God is making all things new. We talked a while back Em, “Clean dish, dirty dish, scrub the dishes clean,” a nice picture of redemption and what Christ has done for you. That might be a good spot, over your kitchen sink. You can head over to the website, find it on today’s show notes, print it out on your home computer. It should print really well. We put mine on a little piece of card stock.        

Emily:  Definitely check her out on giveitpretty.com and if you’re feeling really wild, you might go on Instagram and hashtag #RisenMotherhood so that we can see all the cute places you are displaying your print.  

Laura:  That’s a good idea. We hadn’t even pre-discussed that but Em, way to go.

Emily:  I want to see what people do with it so I’m excited.

Laura:  Head on over to the show notes and check it out and look forward to more in the future as well. We’ve got some pretty cool ones in the works that I’m excited about. On to our show today, we are talking about a topic that makes me want to curl up into a ball. We are talking about potty training.

Emily:  Laura and I have been wanting to record an episode about this for a long time because in our friendship, as we have talked about our children and the things that we’ve had to train them in, this topic has had a lot of airtime. We have both shared mutual frustration because it’s taken longer than we thought. Our expectations have had to change in the process and we have both grown through this exciting - but frustrating time. [laughs]    

Laura:  If you do a quick search on Pinterest, you will find the potty training boot camps and there are entire books written about this topic; it’s crazy. Em and I chatted and we came with the expectation that if we do these three-day boot camps: we do the juice boxes, the fruit snacks, the straight to undies, all that stuff, our children would magically always go in the potty. That apparently does happen for some people.

If you are that person, we are, A) extremely jealous [laughter] and B)very happy for you. While this episode doesn’t technically apply to you in the realm of potty training, there are some really good truths, as well, explained later on that will apply to all of parenting. We hope you’ll stay tuned even if you do have one of those wonder children that somehow magically started to pee on the potty, with no accidents ever.     

Emily:  You probably had a frustrating experience like Laura and I, where we had to change our viewpoint. I remember the day that Laura told me, “Potty trained is when you ask them to go potty and they go, and they don’t have accidents between,” and I was like, “What? I thought potty training was when they were basically an independent adult and they took themselves potty.” [laugher]

It’s so funny the expectations that we have and having to change them. I know with my oldest, it’s taken the whole process over a year, with intermittent boot camps, and having it not work, and then doing a boot camp again and then it not working. He finally initiated going on the potty. Actually, in the last week or two, he has finally started taking himself to the potty with a little bit of motivation like a Gummy Worm or something. Yes, it was not this one-and-done process for us. It was much, much longer than that.          

Laura:  I think that’s the same with my son. We tried two times and the second time was the charm. I went for three, four weeks the first time and it was painful because there wasn’t any progress. It’s one of those things that it seemed like it was going great and you’re like, “He'll be going on his own completely, no help from mom for everything really soon,” but we couldn’t get out of that funk of me having to initiate every half hour or so. That’s not sustainable as a mom, especially when you have other children, so we threw in the towel after the first time we tried it.

The second time, he would initiate it a little more but four months later, I still have to keep hawk eyes on that kid. I have to suggest when he goes into nursery, “Hey, can you check with him and make sure he doesn’t need to go potty.” I carry extra underwear and shorts around in my diaper bag still for random accidents. While I would call him potty trained, but it should actually be "loosely potty trained." [laughter] He’s not technically potty trained. We still have some work to do but generally, he’s in his little boxer briefs running around and makes it to the potty so we’re rolling with it.

Emily:  In different ways, Laura and I can be achievement-oriented and this is one of those things where you feel like, “This is a mark on me. This is a reflection on my capabilities. If my child wasn’t potty trained in the first boot camp or the second boot camp or the third boot camp, [laughs] what does that say about me? Does that mean I’m a bad parent? Does it mean that I’m incapable? Does it mean that I’m inconsistent?”

I remember feeling embarrassed, several times as I shared with my friends, “Yes, we’re potty training.” Then a week later, they’d be like, “How’d that go?” and I’d be like, “Let’s talk about something else,” [laughs] I don’t want to admit again it didn’t work.    

Laura:  Like you said, it’s physically obvious whether or not your child is doing it or not. You feel like those moms that are able to do it three days, somehow have some magic portion that you don’t and you feel like a failure when your child doesn’t snap to it right away. The biggest thing that I realized, for both of us and, it’s the point of the show today, is how it reveals so many sin issues in your heart. Some of my responses were high overreactions. It revealed my need for control, my inability for consistency, to have patience, sometimes I wanted to shame him. My natural inclination was to shame him. I feel like those sin issues that potty training reveals are there, but they’re hidden until you are faced with something like potty training. Over and over and over you’re forced to deal with some of those things that are deeply rooted in your heart.  

Emily:  This is one good example of that. Motherhood is something that we keep learning over and over again. God is not in the business of making us and our kids look nice and shiny on the outside, and be well behaved or be well trained or look like we have it all together. He cares about our hearts and He cares about us becoming more like Christ. He is using these everyday moments that we face. Whether it’s our child having another accident and another accident, or it’s something else, He keeps using these things to reveal our sin so we can turn to Him and trust Him. It’s hard [laughs] but it’s good. I don’t want to over-spiritualize things but also, it’s nice to give something like potty training and the frustrations of it more purpose, and more meaning and significance, when I realize this is one more way that God is training me to become more like Christ.    

Laura:  It’s so important to remember that God is sovereign even over the challenges of potty training and He is using them in your life.  He knows that this is going on. As mothers, we know that we cannot respond rightly in every moment. That is not possible. Jesus knows that and that is why He came to suffer and die on the cross. He freed us from both sin’s power and gave us freedom to choose to serve God, to respond rightly, to choose righteousness so we can change our response because of what He’s done to a child that ‘just can’t get it’. We can change our response from frustration and impatience and even shaming, to one that has enduring love and grace for our child, that is long-suffering.

Like Emily said, we don’t want to totally over-spiritualize this, but it is a process of sanctification and refinement when you’re going through anything like this, when you’re losing control, you’re at the end of your rope, and you’re done and frustrated. That is a chance for you to choose righteousness and see Christ working in your life.   

Emily:  It’s so loving of God, even though it hurts. That’s the thing about the refinement process. It’s gold being refined. They use fire to refine gold and it brings all of the impurities to the surface so that they can be removed. What is it that refines us and ultimately makes us more like Christ? It’s the hard things, the things that hurt, that slough off, the things that frustrate us over and over again. It brings out what was already in there.

That’s what’s hard, and a misconception is we tend to be like, “It’s my child’s behavior that’s causing me to act like this,” or it’s [laughs], “This external circumstance made me blow up.” It’s like, “No, you already were valuing the wrong thing or already had that sin issue in your heart.” This circumstance put enough pressure on you, put enough heat on you to make that impurity come to the surface. Then you have a choice to repent and ask God to help you change that, or you can try to stuff it deep down and then He could come back and bring it back again. [laughter]   

Laura:  That’s key to remember in potty training or any struggle you have with your child where consistently, they are not getting something. I know friends whose kids won’t stay in bed or go to bed, or they won’t eat their dinner, they throw their food off the table, things like that. Where you feel no matter what you do, they don’t respond and their heart doesn’t change and they’re not softened. I think it can be easy to be like, “If only they weren’t like that. If they would get it or if they didn’t do that, I wouldn’t do this or I wouldn’t lose my temper.” That is wrong thinking. That is placing blame where it should not be. That’s what we need to remember when going through these things is that the onus is on you, mom. You’re responsible for your attitude and your response and choosing holiness in these situations. Potty training is a great chance where kids can teach us lessons and put us through trials over and over a million times a day [laughter] but that also give us a million chances to improve, and to choose the right things as we experience them.         

Emily:  And to experience a little tiny picture of what God does for us. Because as many times as our children offend us during the day, and disobey us, and they have accidents or things that they’re not getting, we do that to God but 10,000 more. It’s always very eye opening to me when I get frustrated and I don’t feel how long-suffering He is with me.

Remembering too, the way this is an opportunity to image Jesus, to remember what He did for us. Even with potty training, the gross bodily function things, Jesus dealt with those things. He touched people with weird bodily function stuff going on. He washed feet and He got down in the dirty and loved people and served, so I have to remember. That’s my example. That is the God that I follow so I should expect that part of imaging him is going to mean cleaning up accidents. It’s going to mean bodily fluids and all of that is love.  

Laura:  Yes, I think it is recognizing that grace and mercy that has been extended to you. Passing that on to your children, that’s so much of motherhood. Knowing that whatever our children are doing, we have done that 10 times over to Christ. [laughter] I know Em has used this example before but how often do we pee our proverbial pants? It’s so true! I think there are so many times that we do that. We can rest and dwell in that mercy and grace from God. We want to extend that to our children while we’re going through something that feels like it will never end, and we’re going to freak out if we have to strip off another wet pair of underwear. [laughter] God is using this as a refinement process and something to teach you. It can give something that feels very mundane and annoying; it gives it some spiritual purpose. We hope that you can see that from this and a bigger reason than just teaching your child a social norm.    

Emily:  We want to encourage you today. Whether it is potty training or another thing that you are trying to help your child learn, for good character or for their life, that you can be patient because Jesus was patient. You can extend mercy to them because God extended mercy to you. Think critically about how you can respond to them like Christ, and be patient, and be thankful that God is refining you in every frustrating moment.   

Laura:  With that, I think we’ll wrap up. Of course, you can find the show notes with our free printable, as well as other potty training resources as a parent dealing with hard things, and enduring that, seeing them as opportunities to see your sin and repent.

Head over to the show notes, risenmotherhood.com. From there, of course you can find our Twitter and Facebook links. We’ll be sharing more on Facebook Live this week, so if you haven’t gone over and liked our page, please do. You can get notifications for when we’re live and talking maybe more about this potty training issue. All right moms. Have a great day.