My two-year-old daughter pooped her pants the other day.
It wasn’t her fault. It was mine. She told me she needed to go potty, even ran to the bottom of the stairs to wait for me to take her up. I could have gotten her to the potty in time. And afterwards, when I was cleaning up the accident, I thought I had probably made more work for myself by not listening to her.
But when she asked, it was that proverbial “last straw.” Her baby sister Lily had been up more times than I could count the night before. She hadn’t napped for very long during the day, hadn’t wanted to play by herself. Sunshine had needed help with everything and wanted to play with Lily when Lily just wanted to sit with me. Then we had taken my husband downtown for an interview and wandered around Chapters—which is, for the most part, enjoyable; it’s just a lot more work while carrying a baby and chasing a toddler.
Those are, of course, all excuses. Justifications for why I didn’t respond immediately to the request I’ve worked so hard to receive. I should just say I’m selfish—I wanted five minutes to sit and eat my cake. Five minutes.
Perhaps, if you are a mom, you understand how the day-to-day minute requests of a toddler pile up until you simply want to sit for five minutes without interruption. “Mommy, I want a snack. Mommy, I want a juice. Mommy, I need to go potty. Mommy, read me a book. Mommy, can I sit with you? Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!”
I love her. Sometimes I think I should be a better mom—I should be more patient with the endless little requests, because everyone tells me that she’ll be a teenager soon and won’t even want to talk to me. I should be reading her stories and taking her to parks and doing puzzles with her.
Instead, I am encouraging her to do things herself, to read her own books, to play with Lily, so I can read essays and stories for my classes and work on my assignments and write blog posts. And she can do those things by herself. Sometimes I’m amazed at her creativity when she’s playing by herself. She’s gone potty by herself and changed herself from her clothes into her jammies. Just not when I ask her to do it.
One evening, when Sunshine was in bed and Lily was playing quietly with her toys, I was reading a novel. I was too tired to focus on anything school-related, just waiting for Lily to fall asleep (and trying to work through the stack of books I’ve requested to review). My husband asked me something. Then, a few minutes later, something else. And then another question. Finally, I said, “Please. Just let me finish reading. I get interrupted all day by Sunshine. Can I just read five pages—one chapter—without someone asking me something?”
It was probably unfair to him. He wanted to talk, to discuss things we were doing the next day. I was enjoying the quiet, a break from the endless toddler chatter that both brightens my day and makes me wish for silence.
Mommyhood is full of ups and downs. The joys of finally having a potty-trained toddler—and the need to respond to that. The fun of having a toddler who can now carry on a conversation—and the need to provide that conversation. So I made mistakes, get impatient or tired, and try to do better next time.