What I Learned from My Son in the Bathroom

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,  that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” Ephesians 2:4-5

If you have a smartphone and any sort of social media account, go download TimeHop right now. It is one of my favorite apps. Basically you give it permission to access your social media accounts, then it will pull up whatever you posted on that day in years past. This is especially fun for someone like me who has been using Facebook more or less since its inception, back when it was just for college students and you needed a .edu e-mail address to get approved (aka the good ol’ days). It can be hilarious or painful, depending on what your past self was like, but it’s especially great for parents, because it takes us all back to the sweet, funny, or otherwise post-worthy moments of our kids’ earliest days.

I, however, am not one to limit my Facebook posts to the perfectly share-worthy. I’m all about being real, and sometimes that’s not pretty. This week, TimeHop reminded me of a not-so-pleasant time in my past.

My then-2-year-old had expressed interest in potty-training several months earlier. In fact, I had him #1-toilet-trained in 4 days of “boot camp” at home. But buddy, #2 is a different story when it comes to toddlers. This child has an iron will and even more iron rectal strength. I have NO IDEA how he held it for DAYS, even WEEKS, especially with the massive quantity of Miralax I was giving him. At one point we ended up in the ER with impacted stools. They gave him a HUGE enema and told me to be prepared for an immediate explosion. HE HELD IT FOR 3 MORE DAYS. The doctors were shocked when they released him, still not having had a bowel movement. I’m telling you, this child is special.

I’m sure if you have never potty trained a resistant, strong-willed child, you think this is all very funny. But honest to God, I have never felt more desperate than those months of fighting my Sweet Prince over poop. I tried so hard to make it work. I would put him back on the potty when he would get up, I would coach him and sing to him and offer him marshmallows and Skittles. I read books and made up cheers and watched him get exceptionally good at Temple Run. Yet still, every day he would have tiny bits of poop in his underwear or Pull-Up – not enough to empty his bowels, but just enough that I would have to wash it/throw it away. And not just once or twice. I’m talking 8-10 times a day. Sometimes more. Sometimes it was every few minutes. I couldn’t afford to throw away 8+ Pull-Ups every day (especially with little brother still in diapers), so he exclusively wore underwear, because laundry is cheaper than Pull-Ups. But that meant on the occasion he just couldn’t hold it anymore and finally had that MASSIVE BM, it was in his underwear. Usually in a public place. NEVER in the toilet.

The day I posted this 2 years ago is one I won’t soon forget. He had to go so bad. He was crying and crying about how bad he was hurting, and I had him sitting on the potty with my iPad for over an hour. If he didn’t have to go, he would sit there and play games until his legs were numb, but when it was really time to go, all he did was cry. This day, I was over it. I remember him going through a dozen pairs of underwear that day, but that wasn’t totally abnormal. For some reason though, I snapped. I held him on the toilet when he tried to get up. I screamed and cried more than he did (which was a lot, and completely inappropriate for a grown woman). I screamed some more. I scared him. This only made things worse. I recall slumping down in the bathroom floor and bawling about how hard this is and how I am the worst mother on the planet.

And I posted this status:

timehop

I was as broken as I have ever been. And over poop. Gosh. I felt so desperate. I put one of Little Man’s diapers on Sweet Prince and held him. I hugged him and cried and apologized. I needed help. Not help from a potty-training expert or even encouragement from another mom. I needed Jesus. At our lowest point, all we need is Jesus.

That day I gave up potty training. The boy went back into diapers, and while he still held it for days at a time, his messes went in the trash can and I stopped worrying about it. A few months later I took my youth group to the beach and my mom managed to potty train him while I was gone. Go figure.

The important lesson I learned was to let it go. I thought I was being tested by putting up with Sweet Prince’s stubbornness; I was “God” in my mind, dealing with a rebellious child. But the truth is quite the opposite. Sometimes I am so convinced of my own rightness that I miss the obvious solution under my nose. (The kid just wasn’t ready, duh.) Sometimes I fight and scream and cry and complain and work and try and force things to happen when it’s just not time. I wasn’t God in that picture, my son was. He cried and pushed back, because he ultimately knew the timing wasn’t right. He wasn’t ready. He was hurt by my constant pressure, and I know my actions often broke his little heart. But you know, he never gave up on me.

I know, I know, he was 2. But that same child at whom I screamed in the bathroom would snuggle up to me at nap time. He would softly ask, “Mommy, oo way iff me?” and would face me, his little body curled up in the curve of mine, and wrap his arms around my neck. He often slept with his nose touching mine, hot breath and firm grip reminding me that he loves me, even when my actions didn’t express the love he deserved. That precious child who has challenged me more than any other has also so greatly demonstrated redemption. I can make such a mess of a situation, but love covers a multitude of wrongs. Sweet Prince isn’t just a pet name; he is my knight in shining armor: a tender, gentle, and affectionate bearer of truth in love.

When I get stuck in my head the way things need to go in my life, I often try to make it happen. I tell God, “Look, this is good! And you are good, so you want good for me, so this needs to happen! See how logical it is??” I am unfortunately skilled at rationalizing the desires of my flesh to justify my frustration when they don’t pan out as I planned. Sometimes I push and fight and scream and cry and complain and work and try and force things to happen… But He never gives up on me. What was God teaching me that day about my own rebellion and need for grace? That his love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on me. And thank God for it. Because I need more and more and more.

Thank you, Jesus, for my son, the light of my life. Thank you, Jesus, for your grace, that covers all my sins. Thank you, Jesus, for your timing, which is better than mine. Thank you, Jesus, for all the no’s that I needed when I thought differently. Thank you, Jesus, that your plan is for my good and your glory. Nothing else matters.



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55 thoughts on “What I Learned from My Son in the Bathroom

  1. Parenting and all the pains (and joys) that go with it taught me more about God and His love, patience, kindness, forgiveness…than any other experience in my life. Thanks for sharing with humility and truth about His perfect timing.

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    • I hope you have also learned his mercy in wiping any negative memories from your children’s minds… I remember nothing of you in those early years except how you loved and encouraged me. That gives me great hope. 😉

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  2. This is very raw and I love it. Being a parent is so full of breakdowns and challenges but we almost always come out the other side learning just how much out children make us better people.

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  3. Pingback: Blogelina Commentathon – Group B | Blogelina

  4. My son was so hard to potty train. He did not want to let go of the diapers. What made it even harder was the pressure from outsiders saying he should have already been. Parenting can be so difficult at times, but being a parent has taught me the most! Blessings!

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  5. Children teach us so much about ourselves. What an encredible story about pushing your own agenda instead of letting things happen when the time is right. However, all parents do this so don’t be upset. The important thing to remember is you realized the error and correctly dealt with it.

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  6. Such a great lesson! It will happen when the timing is right….not our timing, God’s timing. We just need to relax and allow God to do His job. You have a great way with words!

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  7. Thank you for sharing this post! I am entering the world of potty training again with my daughter who will be turning two this summer. She has already started taking off her diaper, putting toilet paper into the toilet, and demanding to have her way before bedtime. I do believe that Jesus will take the wheel when it comes to my daughter and her journey with potty training.

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  8. I fully believe that you have your son because God knew you could handle him with care, love and respect. We all have difficult moments and when we get through them, it’s how we learn to shine. Funny story about my daughter’s potty training. We lived overseas on a very remote island and she spent much time undressed. She just preferred to be naked! So we rolled with it, instead of fighting it and soon learned that she’d go to her little potty chair and use it. She couldnt get her clothes off alone, became frustrated and would have accidents. We started letting our little streaker come and go as she wanted to, in our home of course, and she was fully trained before she was 18 months old. God works in mysterious ways!

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  9. Haha, that is so funny but I can relate. Only it was my daughter who had the “problem”. ( I have the plumber bills to prove it) Issues resolved as these things do. Your post just took me back many years. My how time flies!
    Enjoy the commentathon.

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  10. I can relate to every part of this post. I learned with my first son that they will potty train when they are ready!! And any time before that will just add more stress to the both of you. But even more importantly I love that you pointed out that how we can also be stubborn when it comes to God and despite our rebellion He still loves us! 🙂

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  11. It’s funny that you call him your knight in shining armor because that is how I feel about my son. I was blessed with a very strong willed child, so I could feel your agony that day and there where more times than I would have liked, that I lost it. Until one day my dad mentioned I yelled a lot at my son, it was my wake up call to turn it over to God. He met me where I was and poured His graces and mercies over me. He has used my son in so many ways to mold me and shape me.

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  12. Can’t say we ever had a problem with poop. Kiddo was pretty good about potty training. It is interesting those to see that so many people, while they have different stories, they also have the same stories.

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    • My oldest was so easy to potty train; I thought surely something was wrong that our second had so much trouble! Every child is just different. #3 came about it much easier, but I never pushed him. He just decided one day to try it, and that was that!

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  13. This made me laugh more than I have in a long time. Thank you for that. You have an amazing faith to see the grace in the situation as it is happening. It is much easier in hindsight. Thank you for posting so honestly, so beautifully, and so humorously.

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  14. This is such a REAL post, and something ALL parents can relate to. Parenting is quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life, and its not over yet. But, thank the Lord HE is there to help give us the wisdom and strength we need to press on. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your heart in order to bring encouragement to others.

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  15. I held out on getting Time Hop for a long time because I didn’t want to be reminded of all the bad days I had – but just yesterday installed it! So far it has been actually fun to look back though!

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    • You will be glad in the long run! The bad can show you of how much things can change for the better. It may just remind you that the good outweighs the bad! Hoping all good things for you. 🙂

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  16. :sigh: So this is what I have to look forward to with children. 😛 LOL…thank you so much for your transparency! It is so lovely to see moms pour their hearts out so beautifully, and it is a great encouragement to this not-yet-a-mom. 🙂

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    • Parenting is such a challenge, but such a joy! Don’t get down on the hard times – they are sure to come! But know no matter how bad it seems, you’re not alone, and you’ll make it through! My beautiful 4-year-old still needs that Miralax, but he is fully potty trained and lights up every day of my life. Our next journey is into (*duhn duhn duhhhhn*) kindergarten!!

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  17. I have five strong-willed children who each potty-trained on their own time. Not once was it in my timeframe. Uggh! haha! Over the years, I am learning to appreciate their strong-wills, but man, it is TOUGH at times! Thank you for sharing your story.

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  18. I remember those days. Take heart. The strength you gain now will hold you through the next phase of mothering. I’m one of those impatient people, but at the birth of my first child, she had many health issues, and I found God was always there taking care of us in His time, not ours.

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  19. I know being a mommy has got to be one of the toughest, yet most rewarding jobs there is. Most mothers I know are superwomen! Your candor is refreshing, by the way . . . .

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  20. Ohhh man. I am really nervous about potty training; I don’t want to push my babe if he’s not ready and then have us enduring a “setback”. I’m definitely praying over this challenge that’s right around the corner! That is something I love about kids–they are beautifully innocent and forgiving and full of love to share 🙂

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    • They are definitely forgiving!! Try it when you think it’s right, but if it isn’t working, don’t be afraid to scrap it and try again later. It’s not worth fighting over!

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  21. It is amazing how something seemingly so simple can become so difficult. Well done for being able to see God’s grace and His lessons for you in a difficult situation 🙂

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  22. I used to joke that my oldest son is more of a teacher to me than I am to him. Now it is my youngest son who tests my patience and teaches me valuable lessons. I only hope that he is learning from me, too. Thanks for sharing!

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  23. I think potty training is sometimes the most stressful part of parenting a young child. My first was so easy. One day. The third I gave up on 2-3 times. But they are all now potty trained now.

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  24. Beautiful thoughts. I agree that His timing is ALWAYS perfect. My husband spent two years apart from us to work in another country. It was hurting us and we were starting to ask why it’s happening to us, why we have to experience such. But after we have gone through it, God showed us that his timing is always always perfect and his plans are higher than ours.

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  25. Thank you so much for your honesty! I find myself in this position with motherhood more than I like to admit, the point of, “This is absolutely too much to me and I’m totally failing!” Praying God uses me in my children’s lives, anyway. His grace is sufficient.

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  26. This was such a great post! I was feeling the emotions as I was reading along!

    Potty training is the worst. I wanted to send my son to someone else to train him. Every time I thought we were done, he’d regress because his baby brother was getting more attention than him. Of course, he would do awesome when he spent time with grandparents, which made it even more frustrating for me 🙂

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  27. First, I must say, my favorite line in this was, “But honest to God, I have never felt more desperate than those months of fighting my Sweet Prince over poop.” The sentence sounds funny, but the story behind it is actually quite sad. I can’t imagine the pain you felt watching your baby in pain. Thank you for your raw and honest emotion here!

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  28. Parenting has made me run to the feet of Jesus so many times. So thankful for God’s grace and His loving embrace that welcomes us back.

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  29. Oh man the memories…. I was not saved when I had my kids, but eerily enough, I also didn’t have that much issue with them either. I think my youngest (the stubborn child God gave me) is the one that would do similar to your Sweet Prince! And I finally took her to Walmart and bought her some panties that she picked out. I took her home and explained to her that her daddy and I bought her these panties as special panties that she could not pee or poop in. The very MINUTE I put them on her, I had no more issues with her and potty training! But even then, in my lost stage, I can see where God had my best interest at heart… I love that He knows where we are and loves us in that moment and moves us from “glory to glory”! Thank you for the memories!

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  30. While reading this, I had a flashback. I love your humor and humility in writing this. I remember people always telling me not to ask for patience because I will be given the perfect opportunity to practice it. I think you had your practice and came out of it with glowing colors.

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