Two weeks ago, on the first day of school, on a whim I decided to put Elizabeth in undies. The timing wasn't really the best, but it was going to be happening soon, so why not make an already crazy week even crazier?
My three least-favorite parenting tasks are sleep training, potty training, and teaching children how to read. There are lots of unpleasant things about parenting (the noise is definitely one that gets old), but those three tasks are ones that call for a high amount of patience and faith that at the end of your effort, you'll get a child that is a little more like a real human being.
I think they are also frustrating because there often seems to be a lot of work put in for very little, if any, discernible progress. It's nearly completely random reinforcement, with almost no tie between what you do and what results come from the child you're trying to teach. It's an unfortunate reminder that even though you may want your child to pee on command in the place you want them to pee, if they don't want to, it's not going to happen. That is one of the great frustrations of parenting - there are two wills involved, and usually the one that is less logical wins in a head-on confrontation.
This year I also started teaching William to read. And if I'd had another child, I'd probably be sleep training them right now too. But thankfully I only have to do two of my least favorite things simultaneously instead of going for the unholy trifecta of complete insanity. Everyone is happy that is the case. It's funny how much an unhappy mother can make everyone's lives fairly miserable.
Potty training has had its usual and expected triumphs and disasters which are common to teaching any child a new skill. I've cleaned up puddles, washed sheets and blankets, handed out chocolate chips, listened to (seemingly endless) wailing, and let everyone in the house know of all Elizabeth's successes. Thankfully her siblings are happy to clap for a potty full of urine. She, as is usual, hasn't liked it, but she's submitted to the program because I'm more stubborn than she is.
At this point, we're over the worst part of the process and nobody in the house wears diapers during the day. Elizabeth toddles around the house wearing tiny little undies, which is possibly one of the cutest things that toddlers can wear. I love their round little bellies poking out as they wander around the house with no shame, not yet realizing that everyone else is wearing clothes and their lack of them is an unusual thing. I have perhaps two more years of this before she vigorously defends her modesty and insists on things like locked doors when she dresses.
I have found, as seems to be true about many things with my later children, that this process hasn't been nearly as hateful as it used to be. I don't know if it's because I'm older and less prone to hysterics, or I'm older and just don't have the energy to get wound up about things, or I'm older and have more experience and perspective about what things are really worth getting upset about, or I'm just older. Whichever it is, I'm happy to be older. It seems to make some things in life easier.
But even if potty training is less unpleasant than it used to be, I'm still happy that this is the last time I have to try and figure out where the puddle is, use my mom-senses to figure out if that crying fit is caused by a full bladder or just pique, haul the little red potty around the house, and have endless conversations about the state of one's bladder. Bathroom use is something I'm very happy to not to have to think about for anyone other than myself.
There are lots of things I'm going to miss about having small children - having them cuddle up in my lap and fall asleep into limp relaxation, watching their pure delight with simple, little things - but I'm very happy to be done with diapers. I can't stop my children from growing up and leaving innocence behind, but at least I can enjoy them leaving dependence behind also. I've been changing diapers for fifteen years now, and I'm happy to quit for good. I feel like I've done my time and I'm ready to move on with my life. I'm happy to change diapers occasionally for someone else, but I'm happy that that stage of my life is almost over.