Normal. I don’t think I like that word. Who decides what’s Normal or right? Why should one person, or group of people, be able to decide what is best for your children? If they’re your children, shouldn’t you be the unquestioned authority? If you’ve raised children, you know what I’m talking about. This isn’t a new-age issue here. If your children are grown, you, I’m sure, can still think back on when your parents or grandparents, newspaper or internet articles, or even pediatricians were telling you how they think you should be raising them. Nowadays, it seems that it’s happening more and more with so many parents choosing to raise their children in a more lenient way. But this issue has been around for centuries. I have close friends who have chosen to not cut their son’s hair because they are waiting for him to make that choice on his own. Is that wrong? No, of course not. Is that different? Maybe. Every child is different, every parent is different. Is that child being harmed by having long hair? No, of course not. I have another friend who doesn’t tell their child No. That child could punch a dog in the snout, and they will choose to not tell their child No because they would rather talk about why he or she chose that course of action. Is that wrong? Who am I or anyone else to say so? My point is that raising a child is hard enough without having to deal with other people saying or thinking you’re doing something wrong.
I know that if the opinion comes from a parent or grandparent, it comes from a place of experience and is never meant to harm. But that doesn’t always make it easy to hear. I think sometimes those parents or grandparents forget what it’s like to raise a baby or toddler. The human brain is fascinating in that way, it’s why women end up with 8 kids…they forget what childbirth is like and want to keep doing it over and over again. I think when you’ve raised healthy, grown-up, adult children of your own, you immediately think you know more than someone who is going through it. I understand that concept, I truly do. It has to be hard to watch your adult children go through something you went through in a completely different way than you did. Especially when you think they’re having trouble and think you can help. But that doesn’t always make it easy to hear. Parents and grandparents are telling you things from an experienced,
‘been there, done that’ standpoint, but since every child is different
and every parent is different, things rarely seem to work the same in
every case. Pediatricians are telling you things from a medical standpoint and sometimes your heart and intuition are pulling you in a different direction. I have learned from experience that heart and intuition, although it never gave me a degree, is a real thing and should never be ignored. Newspapers and internet articles are telling you things from a research standpoint, giving you what is usually the popular opinion on how to deal with certain issues, but there are always cases of those people in the minority who have their own untold success stories. And in my experience, my cases are always in the minority, or the exception to the rule.
I also think that a lot of times people lie on the internet, to their
doctors, and to their friends and family and say that everything is
Fine! and Easy! and Normal! When in actuality, it rarely is. Why do
we feel the need to create this veneer of perfection? We, as women, are
expected to have it all and do it all and to never cave under pressure. And it isn’t the Men who put that pressure on us, Ladies. It’s Us. It’s the Women who expect other Women to keep it all together. Why? Because everyone is lying and in competition of one another. Well you know
what? That’s dumb. And impossible. I had a long talk with one of my
dearest friends the other day about how she was just realizing that she
can’t do it all and that maybe her way of doing things ‘by the seat of
her pants’ isn’t working anymore. It was both heartbreaking and
impressive to hear my dear friend say these things and get so upset
about it. She was admitting to not having it all together and that
takes a lot of guts. This particular friend is one whom I have always looked up to for having it all together, so hearing her admit to this, after years of crying on her smart and pulled together shoulder, was somehow very comforting to me.
There are a lot of different things that come up in raising children that other people will jump to judge you on. The issue could be how, when and where to put the child to bed, whether or not to ‘let them cry’, that they think you should stop breastfeeding your child who isn’t easy to feed and that you should ‘just give up already’, that you should be more lenient on their sleep schedules, or have no schedules at all, that you should take them out more and expose them to more germs, or that your 17 month old daughter who came to you with wanting to use the potty is too young. Whatever the reason may be, there will always be someone, most likely someone in your family, who will tell you how to raise your kid. And the best advice I have on that is to hope that they stop when you ask them to, try to not get so angry at those people for doing it, and remember what the most important thing is. The children themselves. The children that you are raising are what is most important, not the people who tell you you’re doing it wrong. If you’re not putting your child in harms way, then it shouldn’t be anyone else’s problem but your own. And yet, that is just so difficult to do. You can be a strong, confident person, extremely sure that the method you are choosing is the best one for YOUR child, and yet it takes one person to say, ‘I don’t think that’s what you should be doing’ to knock you down and screw you up. There’s a fine line between simply not listening to other opinions and views on your children, and then simply being rude. I’m still working on finding that balance myself.
My 19 month old daughter is potty trained. She has been potty trained for almost 2 months now. She is very young, and that poses a challenge. She is very stubborn, which also poses a challenge. We have good days and we have bad days, she still wears a diaper at night, but during the day she uses the potty and wears underwear. There are accidents, and there will continue to be accidents for a long time, but she is potty trained. My 19 month old baby girl is potty trained. And I am so amazed that she has the ability to do that at her young age. And I’m proud of her, so very proud of her. The look on her face after she gets to peer into the potty and see what she’s done is priceless and I know she’s proud of herself too. We have had setbacks, but we, as a team, are doing what is supposed to happen with this child. We didn’t choose this path, she did, and we are guiding her on her way to growing up. My husband and I joke that our near 5 year old son would still be in diapers if we didn’t bribe him heavily to start using the potty several years ago. He is just a different child. Every. Child. Is. Different. Training him was as difficult as training my daughter is, but in completely different ways. I can remember crying during my training my son because it occurred to me that I couldn’t just let him play while I did something in another room, I had to be on his case every few minutes, there was no rest and I was so exhausted. He continued to have accidents for a year or more, still wore some sort of protective gear at night for about a year, we had to stop for many potty breaks on errands and even long walks, but the difference is that he, being a boy, could go behind a hidden tree. In that sense, plus the fact that he was older and could be reasoned with, it was easier with my son. But my daughter, being a girl, obviously doesn’t have the option of just going behind a tree if she needs to go when a potty isn’t around.
I also don’t have the luxury of being able to stay at home for a week while potty training my daughter, like I did with my son. I trained my son while I was pregnant, sick and exhausted with my daughter and I wasn’t working. I had nothing better to do than potty train a child and grow a baby. This time around I have a job, a son, more responsibilities, and am on the go almost always. Many people say the best way to train a child is to stay at home and put them in nothing but underwear for as long as it takes. (You will be cleaning up messes 20+ times a day, so outside in the summertime is easiest and make sure you’re not emotionally attached to your furniture, no matter how expensive it may be, because it will get peed on.) And I agree with that method. It’s what I did with my first and what I did as best I could with my second. But when you don’t have staying home for a week as an option, you do what’s best for your child and make up your own rules.
My daughter and I go on long walks everyday in our neighborhood and I come back home to let her potty during that walk. That isn’t abNormal or indicative of her not being ready, it’s what I’m doing to make her choice easier on her. It’s what I did with my son, who was about 3 at the time, and what I’m doing with my daughter. It’s Normal. Is it what happens with every potty training child? I don’t know, maybe some kids have super-sized bladders of steel, but whatever you are going through with your child is Normal. That is what I’ve learned after being a mom to 2 amazing and completely different children. It’s all completely different and absolutely Normal. When you start comparing your kids to other children or listening to too many people tell you what they think, how they would raise your kids, you get yourself into trouble and can get off track. Just remember that you are the parent, you are doing the hard work every single day of their lives, therefore you are the expert on what’s best for that child.
Going through potty training my daughter, just like it did my son, has changed my life, my schedule, the flow of things around the house, but that’s all part of raising a child I think. And once you embark on a milestone in a child’s life like this one, there is no going back. You can’t teach them to do something, reward them and/or discipline them in some way and then decide later on that it’s too hard and just stop, like I’ve been told to do. What kind of message does that send the child? You tell them one day that the potty is the place for their pee-pee, and then the next, when it’s a particularly bad day, tell them to just go in their diaper? That’s just not how it works. Think of the psychological damage you could do to that poor child’s mind. So regardless of how this may affect my daily life, this is what we’re doing. I mean, you gotta train them at some point, right? And I’m completely, 100% percent behind my decision, so is my husband, (and so is her pediatrician!). Potty training my very young child, when I thought I had another year or so of diapers, wasn’t on my radar and isn’t always convenient, but I do it because this is what she wants. And I want what is best for my child, always. My children are the reason why I do every single thing in my life. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I don’t mean to say here that you should raise your children in a vacuum and not allow anyone to help. Not at all. It does takes a village, after all. But ask for guidance when you need it and apply it when needed. What I am saying is that you, the parent, are the most important person in that child’s life, you have the authority and sometimes we all just need a little boost. I know I do. I need someone to tell me that I’m doing the right thing and that they’re proud of me for the choices that I’ve made, for how amazing my kids are, for acknowledgment that I’ve worked so hard on building something that has turned out so well. So I only hope I can be that person for you, if you need it. Maybe you’re reading this and feeling helpless, maybe you need guidance. Look inward. Listen to that gut of yours and your heart will tell you the right thing to do, and know that sometimes doing the right thing and following your heart can hurt people.
It’s interesting, but people can get easily hurt when you don’t take their advice. I think that comes from a place of sincere belief that they are right and then frustration when they aren’t being listened to. But just know, that if you believe in your heart that you are doing the right thing for your child, and that child is thriving and happy, then you are right. And hopefully the people who were hurt will catch up and choose to ride along with you. Because kids grow up so fast, it’s taxing and challenging raising them, but those taxing and challenging times go by so very fast. And before you know it, they’re in school or getting married and making big decisions of their own, and maybe you will wish you can go back to those times when they needed you the most but instead you get to sit back and watch them make those big decisions on their own. You can say, ‘I did that. I made that. And I may not agree with every decision they make, but I trust that I raised them right and they will get to the finish line in their own way.’
It’s been hard for me to open up and be honest on this blog. In many ways, I have used this forum as my therapy. Sometimes people don’t listen to or read my words, but having been through actual therapy before, I know it’s not what the therapist has to say that matters, it’s that they allow you to talk without being interrupted or judged and through that talking, you usually come to a decision on your own. So we all have the right decisions already inside of us, sometimes we just need to be listened to and cheered on to get there. In the beginning of this blog, I started to write things without including anything personal, I would just write a recipe or some grocery store tips and be done with it, then I slowly realized that I wanted more, needed more, but I was just scared. I was scared of being judged or criticized, or disliked. I’ve always been scared of being disliked. And I lived most of my life trying to please everyone else and do what everyone else expected of me. Because I was raised to respect my elders, above all else. That got me nowhere. I had an eating disorder, suffered through abuse, and being taken advantage of by adults in authority, all because I wanted to please. But once I met my husband, he taught me that what I have to say matters and that I should trust my instincts first and foremost. He has made me the woman I am today. He gave me the confidence I had been waiting my whole life to find. So, in an always evolving state of trying to better myself and open up more, last year I wrote about battling depression when my daughter was a baby and how she wouldn’t nurse. That was extremely hard to do, but it made me feel better after I did it, especially when I received so many emails and comments about your similar experiences. Many of you thanked me for being so honest because it helped you go through something similar. Maybe this will do the same.
But again, who am I to tell you what to do?
As I mentioned before, I have used fruit snacks as little rewards or bribes with both my children. And there are a lot of recipes online for homemade gummy-type snacks. I’ve even posted a recipe for peach gummies and cranberry gummies that both contain fruit puree and juice and they’re both awesome, but neither one had the right consistency if we’re trying to get them to be more like a fruit snack or gummy bear. I’ve recently seen a lot of recipes that use jello that had me intrigued. Most of them are the same: 1 package of jello, 2 packages unflavored gelatin and 1/3 cup water. Well, I wanted to make sure that if I was making a treat at home, it would be better for my kids than what I was buying at the store. So I came up with this recipe. Everyone in the family loved these and even though they contain processed sugar from the jello, they have some vitamins and fiber in them from the fruit puree. These are a lot of fun to make with the kids and I assure you, any kid would welcome one as a treat for using the potty.
*Homemade Fruit Snack Gummies
|next time I’ll make different flavors so each shape has its own color…how cute would an orange pumpkin snack be?!
-In a glass bowl, combine the following…
-1 (3 oz) package of jello, flavor of choice (I used strawberry)
-3 (.25 oz) envelopes of unflavored gelatin
-1 cup whole fruit puree (either fresh or frozen, un-strained, I used strawberry)
-Stir well with a fork and microwave for about 2 minutes, checking often, until the liquid reaches an almost boil.
-Pour the hot liquid into your desired molds (I used silicone ice cube trays from the dollar store, but rumor has it, you can find jelly bean molds at certain craft stores… If you find some, let me know!!) and refrigerate until set. This officially takes a couple of hours.
-Pop out each snack* and store, covered, in the fridge for long time storage.
(*I didn’t need to grease my molds and had no problem removing my fruit snacks, hopefully you won’t have any problems either…but if you don’t have silicone molds, then you may want to lightly spray yours before filling just for a little insurance.)