Epic Meltdown

crying
flickr/dangermain

Have you been there?  I hope so, simply for my sake as I am in need of some mommy comforting.  We had a meltdown of epic proportions this week, at the tire store, in public, with everyone watching.  No, seriously, if only I could have harnessed that kind of energetic passion (to put it nicely) I would convert it to electricity and power my house for a year.

The story goes that I ran out of diapers for the 3-year old.  I think, ‘great time to encourage her potty-training ready signs and just get out the pull ups.’  She refuses to use the pull-ups and doesn’t like the panties but has had 100% potty success today. The warning lights in my car for the past week can no longer be put on the back burner, and so the necessary tire appointment is approaching fast.  Let me take you through it.  Picture the tire store, quiet yet busy in the mid-week, mid-afternoon.  In walks me with 3 young ladies ages 7,5, and 3.  I am schlepping purse, snacks, books, drinks, toys, coloring crayons and coloring books, stickers, suckers, change of clothes, pull ups and smartphone (everything but the kitchen sink) in hand, in 3 huge bags, and we go in for new tires. It looks like we are moving into the lobby but we have one and half hours wait, not too bad.

I must have looked like a chicken with no head.  I was hopping around there like flubber that was set free.  Getting up to fix the chair, find the book, do the math, read the sign, go to the potty, kiss the boo-boo, fix the hair -it was exhausting.  I look around the room in desperation, hoping that someone with throw me a bone, by that I mean a ‘its okay, I’ve been there, done that’ smile, but no takers.  I laugh aloud as I see I have even thought to bring myself a book that I couldn’t possible read in this environment.  My children are exhausting me but at least they are appropriately quiet.

The blissful moments of ‘appropriately quiet’ didn’t last long due to my three-year-old.  Long story short, I almost left my dear, sweet youngest child at the tire store (kidding…. I think). Meltdown one happened after I asked her to pick up something off the floor.  As three-year-olds do she made a mountain from a molehill, put her hands on hips and screams, “NO, I’m not going to do what you say!” It escalated fast.  Tantrums 2 and 3 I am a little fuzzy about now, but number four I remember well.  The random thoughts running through my head: (from another AP blogger) ‘how brave of her to express her feelings,’ how embarrassed I am that MY kid would act this way – mean I am an API leader, that tantrums are normal and actually healthy for the brain, if she pees on this carpet how will I clean it up?, why is my 5 year-old licking her hand?, when will the car get done? Do I have tequila at home for a margarita later? It IS five o’clock somewhere, how much is this costing me?, ’ just to name a few.  I survived the day, WITH new tires on the car.  *Whew!* Mission accomplished.

In relaying the grueling details to my husband that night he just swooped down into the conversation and gave me his benevolent perspective about why our darling youngest daughter was having these major meltdowns, “Maybe she is not ready for potty training…”

I looked at him with my bug eyes, “Oh, gee, ….”

We are back to diapers.  Apparently people in the trenches can’t often see the whole battlefield, or remember the path to the goal.  She is not ready for potty training and I will respect that.  Period.  I wish I had recognized it earlier but I am not perfect and the supermom cape really doesn’t exist.

As the day wrapped up and I looked at her in my arms, with a happy tear this time in my eye and saw a sweet, precious, sleeping face I was reminded of several parenting lessons:

  1. How grateful I am and how necessary my husband is in child-rearing.  After we left the tire place, I took her straight to dad’s office and got a breather, the both of us were able to calm down.
  2. That no matter how good of a mother you are, this WILL happen to you eventually.   Attachment parent or not.
  3. Although I did have tears in my own eyes during this whole fiasco, I was proud I didn’t lose my cool or scream.  I stuck with my philosophy of discipline, despite how it looked to the strangers there.
  4. It is good to come home to a hubby and a glass of wine after a long day and be reminded that I really am a good mother, despite one bad experience.
  5. I lived another day.  They lived another day.  It is a good day.

Okay, so number five did NOT occur to me at the time, but I am glad that one day is over.  I am grateful I have some perspective and that I can now smile and really sit with my parenting education I was just given by my youngest child.  I survived an epic meltdown and lived to mother another day.

Diaper Free in the Middle East

API appreciates encouragement and support of our parenting instincts, and enjoys when the support transcends geographic borders and language. Please note that Attachment Parenting helps parents reclaim their instincts through API’s Eight Principles of Parenting and grow in their parenting confidence, to make the choices they find best for their own families. Elimination communication, going diaper free, is a practice some parents employ as part of their family choices, however it is not a practice that API support groups and information resources take a position on in any way regarding fostering secure attachment. Please enjoy this post as a part of your enrichment, and not as a practice inherent to Attachment Parenting.

People in China are doing it. People in India, Africa, Russia, Germany and the U.S. are doing it. And a small yet determined cadre of new parents in Israel are taking the plunge.

Diaper Free is just as easy as it sounds. Take off the nappies! Either altogether or here and there for a pee break. But the implications of going diaper free in a society where it’s virtually unheard of are a bit more complex.

As a mentor with DiaperFreeBaby.org, I host meetings for parents of babies and toddlers in my hometown of Boston. But, as I geared up to spend a month in Israel, an unexpected and synchronistic connection from an EC-ing (EC stands for Elimination Communication, the gentle and connection-oriented practice of pottying your child in babyhood) Israeli mama was a lightbulb moment for me. ECing parents benefit from support, no matter where they are, because–unlike the Chinese–we live in societies where our practices are little-known. With few family members and friends to pass down the torch of initiation into this practice, finding our way alone can be challenging.

Before the first ever Tel Aviv meeting of DiaperFreeBaby commenced, Larissa and I discussed our goals. To cover some basic techniques, to provide an opportunity for like-minded parents to connect, but mostly to give parents an opportunity to tell their stories and air their challenges and questions. Six families attended, two of which included mom, dad and baby, one mom who’d left her baby at home, and three moms with their babies.

As the dads nervously expressed their relief to see another dad there, I recalled my first ever DFB meeting. My now-toddler was 2 weeks old, and my husband was the only dad present. That meeting was pivotal in our parenting journey, since it’s where we learned about co-sleeping and co-bathing, two practices that helped us to meet our daughter’s needs in a way that mainstream baby-case couldn’t.

We showed some basic pottying holds–since when you’re pottying an infant, you have to hold them over the designated spot–then briefly touched on the role of intuition in infant pottying. “I thought it was just me!” confessed a mom in joy and recognition when I discussed a phenomenon known as the “phantom pee”–when you feel as if you’ve just been peed on but you haven’t. It means your baby needs to use the bathroom. Two other moms had also experienced it without knowing what it was.

How amazing to have moms exploring this new world in a country where there are no books published in Hebrew on EC. They don’t even have appropriate words to describe the practice yet. Having read all the books I could find (and there are only four of them as of today’s count) on the matter, I was impressed by the courage of these parents, who’d scraped together all they could learn from the internet and a few like-minded friends.

Going Diaper Free was just the tip of the iceberg with these parents. One mom described how people thought she was crazy given that she gave birth in her home, something even more uncommon than in the U.S., where the practice is slowly gaining ground. All present babies were toted in carriers, a practice gaining ground in a similar fashion to the US–baby bjorns are frequently seen on the streets, and the occasional wrap. Most of them were cosleeping, a practice that made nighttime pottying easier, but also cultivates a deeper connection of trust and responsiveness between moms and babies, and makes nighttime nursing a breeze.

The language was different, but the types of comments were the same. Parenting against the grain takes dedication and resolve, yet it can get lonely. Finding like-minded parents can be a huge relief. Thankfully, Larissa has firmly taken the reins, and is hosting bi-weekly meetings all across the country. You can check out this amazing woman and her blog here (in Hebrew, but google translate can you sort through it).

My Diaper Free Challenge

Today, I tried an experiment. Inspired by my application for a mentor position with the international organization Diaper Free Baby, I embarked upon a diaper free challenge for the day with my 4.5 month old baby.

I’ve been avoiding doing much diaper free time, although I’m a huge believer in the benefits – and practice – of Elimination Communication (EC). We’ve been pottying little D since she was 5 days old, holding her over the sink at first, then graduating to plastic potties once she reached 11 pounds and our arms began to ache.

Still, while a major reason I gravitated toward EC was its environmental benefits, I’ve been going through 5+ disposable diapers on an average day. And just because they say Seventh Generation on the package doesn’t mean I’m doing right by my descendants by using them (the principle upon which seventh generation was founded).
Continue reading “My Diaper Free Challenge”

Finding Grace and Love in Potty Training?

Potty training. Again. While I’ve done this twice already with varying degrees of difficulty, I still find the process to be exhausting. Most days, I want to throw all the cloth diapers out the window – other days I want to chuck the potty seat and trainers along with my determination to teach this skill.

What transition are you working on? Moving your child from your bed to a crib, weaning from breast milk to bottle or cup or giving up diapers in exchange for the potty are not small tasks. And even if you’ve done them before, the reality is you’ve never made this change with this child. It’s all new to him or her. Some changes come about quickly while others drag on stubbornly. That’s where we are with potty training.

Before giving up (or forcing my will upon the poor child), I’ve found it’s helpful to examine my motives behind making the transition at this time.

Motivations for change often fall into three categories:

  1. Shame/embarrassment. You know you should have taught this skill sooner but didn’t. Maybe you waited until your baby was nine-months old before introducing a bottle. (I’ve been there.) Or you waited until your four-year-old became so big that you can no longer sleep in your own bed comfortably and must demand they sleep elsewhere. The logical part of your brain knows that developmentally, there is no reason why your child is unable to make the change. But the emotional parent part of your brain is too afraid to make it happen.
  2. Anger/resentment. Do you feel so tired of the way things are and find yourself blaming your child? Maybe you wonder why they can’t just do (or stop doing) this one thing. After a lot of introspection, I realize I’m probably in this category. I don’t feel resentment, but after more than eight years of changing diapers; I’m very, very tired of it. Perhaps I’m ready to move on whether my daughter is or not.
  3. Competition. You really want to tell the grandparents, or other moms, that your little prodigy accomplished this transition easily and early. You want to brag a little about whatever milestone would give you this edge on being a good mother. It sounds shallow, and you will probably deny you’ve ever felt this way, but chances are you really are competing with another person’s timetable.

I’m tired of changing diapers, that’s for sure. I suspect there’s a little more going on as well. This is my youngest of three children and we are certainly not having any more. I stopped trying to hold on to the baby years mostly because she refused to stay in the baby phase, reaching all of her physical milestones many months before her older sisters.

But I also prefer to breeze through a transition without marking its passing; hoping to avoid any sadness or longing on my part. She gave up breastfeeding sometime in her 17th month, but I do not have a memory of the “last” time nor did I want to dwell on it. I loved breastfeeding and while a part of me misses this connection; I knew that marking an official end would be too painful. We simply moved on.

Potty training will also mark an end to my baby and toddler years. This independence will mean I no longer have any babies in my care. No more diapers. While it will be sweet freedom, it will also mark a major transition for me as a mother. Dragging out this transition for so many months just prolongs the pain.

I’ve come to realize that the one thing that is required of me at this time is love. My daughter will be potty trained in the near future. (I sometimes chant this just to convince myself.)

It’s my job to love her, to love the stage we are in and to use this love to fuel my patience.

It’s this love that will also lift me out of sadness when I realize there are no more babies, no more toddlers and someday, no more little girls in my care.

So, I’ve made a few changes to how we go about potty training. I removed the changing table from her room. We don’t use it anyway and it helps us solidify the transition taking place. I also added disposable diapers to my shopping list. While we use only two diapers a day for nap and bedtime, I need the mental and physical break from washing them. We’ll continue making the transition using consistent behaviors, but I’ll relax my timetable and renew my love for caring for a toddler.

Mom Dare: Life is filled with one transition after another. Look at what changes you are trying to make in your life and with your children. Examine your motivations, remove the negative emotions and concentrate on love. Use this positive emotion to feed your actions each day as you bring about a positive change.

To Potty Consistently

Potty training. I had no idea what I was getting myself into! We started our potty training adventure last week and are having moderate “success”. I actually hate using the word “success” when it comes to potty training because, like all of life learning, there isn’t really a success and failure. I say that because there are many things in life that are automatic to us. Keeping ourselves clean, teeth brushing, using the bathroom, dressing ourselves, etc. All of these things seem like no-brainer activities. But we all learned them from someone; none of these are automatic behaviors and it took us all time to learn them. These are not success or fail-based things, they are life elements.

Back to potty training. It has been an interesting week and a half, to say the least. I have a very spirited child. I often wondered what that meant when I read that phrase in books. I no longer wonder. I completely 2179082201_8d52cffb60understand. I have one and I am pretty much positive there may be a picture of him in the parenting dictionary as an example of a spirited child. The important thing for the both of us is to be consistent. I could have easily given up a couple of times this past week just because I was tired , wanted a day off, wasn’t quite sure I had made the right decision or if this was the right timing. Somewhere in my mommy-self I know that I have made the right choice for us at this time. We are ready. And now it is up to me to remain consistent for my sake and for the sake of my child. Spirited children may seem like they do well with change because they are constantly moving and changing every day. The truth is that they deal less well with change than a not so spirited child. Since he was a baby he has not done well with new stimuli and it remains so today. Consistency is key for us.

I know that there are many things up ahead of me in parenting that I will have to remain patiently consistent with. We have passed some of these things and we have hundreds more to go. Potty training is just another one of those steps and we are ready. So today I will purposefully, lovingly and consistently move forward.

And I just have to make a note that we are well armed with Potty Power! Which my son absolutely loves.

Jasmine is a co-housing community living mama with a passion for fierce writing she blogs at www.herscreed.wordpress.com

Photo: The Library of Congress

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