What I Really Want

So I've been back to work for about two months, and I feel like I finally have a rhythm. The only problem is that the song seems to change. Daily.

We're in the throes of potty training with Alexandria, which was novel at first, and now it's terribly frustrating. Sometimes we make progress, and then we fall flat on our smug faces. For instance, I took the kids to the Santa Barbara Zoo on Tuesday, and we had a "dry" day. Alexandria used the restroom at the zoo with no problem, kept dry the whole way home, and then throughout the rest of the afternoon, despite happy exhaustion and no nap. Then yesterday, she came to me and told me her tummy hurt (uh oh, we've got some rumbling...!), so I helped her into the bathroom and she asked me to leave. Minutes later, she was up and dressed, and then promptly let it go. In her pants. And then she peed on the rug.

Potty training allures me because I want time. The most frustrating parts of my day occur when I begin a project, sometimes a small one like putting on my makeup, and I'm interrupted with, "Mommy, I need help!" or "Mommy, come here!" These cries of desperation usually come in 3-5 minute intervals, and generally occur when she's trying to fit a puzzle piece or open her box of crayons. If Alexandria is awake, I cannot complete one task from beginning to end without an interuption.

Each step towards independence that a child takes is a minor victory for the primary caregiver. The baby learning to hold a bottle or sippy cup means that they don't need it held for them. When they can manage the pincer grasp, they can eat snacks without help. When they can hold a spoon or fork, they can eat an entire meal by themselves. They learn to get their own toys out, and then put them away. They learn to put on their shoes and brush their teeth. All of these actions buy time. The thing is, I don't mind putting on shoes or brushing teeth.

But I am sick of poop.

I want this. So badly. Changing a walking, talking person frustrates me, and because I know she can do it, yet chooses not to, I feel like I'm robbed of time. One could make the argument that I haven't owned that time since the day she was born. But that's not true. I've held that time when she's made the choice to do it herself. Those moments she gave me meant that I could get closer to completing a task uninterrupted. I could weed the garden. I could sweep the floor. I could read a whole paragraph. I could sit down.

The worst part about all of this is the tremendous guilt I feel each time I get frustrated with her. She's two, for crying out loud. She's two! She's just figuring out how to put her shoes on the right feet, and she puts her socks on upside down. She reminds herself every time she puts on her pants to put the tag in back. How can I expect a person who has to make a conscious effort to put pants on correctly to understand when and where and how to go to the bathroom? Guilt. Sometimes I feel like I'm asking the impossible, or at least too much, from my little girl. She's trying. So hard. And everybody gets it at some point.

Each time I feel like she's gotten it, though, I'm reminded that she hasn't. Same song, different day? No. Each day is a whole new life in a child's world. I hear new words daily, new phrases, new songs. She colors with more control each day. She can identify shapes one day, and then draw them the next. It's a new song.

The problem, you see, is the lure of the same beat, the same rhythm, something predictable. First this will happen and then that will happen, and tomorrow will be the same. Because little people have so much to learn each day, I cannot predict where her developments will occur. First this happens, and although I expect that to happen, this actually happens. I see what I want. Currently, it's time via potty training. But she sees what she wants, and it's everything. Right now.

Sigh. I must be patient. Perhaps I'll just get in, sit back, and enjoy the music. After all, it's the best song I've ever heard.