We used a 3 day potty training method about a year ago with great success. Our daughter was fully potty trained at 21 months. Two months later, accidents began. Five months after that she was back in diapers. During those first two months I would have told you that potty training was the easiest thing I’ve ever done as a parent. Over time, I would come to realize it was one of the hardest.

I could go on and on about all of the ups and downs, accidents, and pure frustration but I’m sure you could find that information pretty much anywhere online. Instead, I’m going to focus on how potty training has impacted me and how it’s making me grow as a person.

I want my child to be the best – Let’s start off with my ego. I loved the idea of Hailey being potty trained early. I loved the idea of pushing past what many people around us told us was impossible. I loved the success and the bragging rights quite frankly.

There were many rough moments and rough weeks and months but I was determined to make this work. Our daughter did it perfectly for the first two months. There was no reason we couldn’t go back to that.

But she resisted.

Control – Hailey resisted probably because she could. It was one of the few things in her life (aside from eating and sleeping) that there was literally nothing I could do to force her into it. She was the deciding factor in whether she would be potty trained or not. I couldn’t make her.

There were dry days where she loved pottying. There were many wet days.

She learned quickly enough that she could control me by telling me that she had to go when she didn’t. Or not telling me and peeing on the living room floor, the couch, in her booster seat at the restaurant. She could make me drop everything in an instant to take her to the washroom. She could get me upset by peeing on me. She could get me to spend lots of one on one time with her while she sat on the toilet waiting to potty.

During this time, she had control. I didn’t. And the more I didn’t the more I wanted it. The more determined I was to make it happen. I didn’t realize this as I was going through it. It wasn’t necessarily a power struggle day to day and in each of those moments. It was a 5 month long power struggle, one that could only be seen from the broader perspective that I now have looking back.

The day to day wasn’t a battle. We used kindness, patience, positive reinforcement, and we got upset, frustrated, and yelled. The whole spectrum. We tried everything. But at the end of the day, looking back, it wasn’t about potty training. It was about control.

She wanted to feel in control of her life. I wanted to feel in control of mine. During those 5 months, I felt very little control. It didn’t feel good.

But Hailey is 2 and she doesn’t have a lot of control over the day to day happenings. This experience has made me more conscious of that.

I didn’t want to fail – This need to succeed and this refusal to fail came crashing down the day I finally gave in and put her back in diapers. I felt like the biggest failure sending her to daycare with diapers admitting that we had given up.

I cried that day. Not because Hailey was back in diapers but because I had failed. After all of the initial success, the ups and downs, and the determination, I had failed.

Probably the most frustrating part was knowing that she could 100% do it and realizing that she simply had no desire.

Sometimes our failures teach us more than our successes – Hailey has been in diapers for just over 2 months now. I’ve admitted defeat to all of our friends and family. I’ve had countless questions about it. I explain as much as I want to but mostly I just shrug my shoulders.

I don’t know where we went wrong. I don’t know what we could have done differently. I’ve asked myself countless times whether she was actually ready in the beginning knowing full well she was. She wanted to be in underwear. We didn’t push her into it. But then she changed her mind and decided she wanted to be in diapers.

I guess she’s allowed to change her mind.

She’s starting once again to show interest. She’s asking to go. She’s having dry diapers. Her daycare is encouraging us “Any time you want to put her in underwear is fine with us”.

But I’m scared.

I’ve gotten over the failure. I’ve gotten over being eager to be the first or the best. But I haven’t gotten over my need to control.

Life with a newborn and a toddler is hectic. Throw sleep deprivation in there and no time for myself and it makes the idea of having even less control over my life than I do right now seem absolutely terrifying.

I want Hailey to be potty trained. But I might want to feel some semblance of control even more.