An Absence of Training

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Ian is peeing in the potty. And on trees. He spends his days in underwear. This happened suddenly, without stickers or chocolate chips or peeing on Cheerios. Now, we are nowhere with poop, except that he’s now closing himself into the bathroom to poop in whatever he happens to be wearing at the time. In Ian’s words, “Pooping on the potty is hard.” I’m trusting that when he’s ready, he’ll do it. Until then, I do a lot of laundry.

Ian is weaning himself. In the last seven days, he’s only asked for milk in the morning twice. He’s only nursing before bedtime. I didn’t have to do anything, and I’m trusting that when he’s ready, he’ll let me know, or maybe we won’t even talk about it. Until then, I don’t offer, but I don’t refuse, and every time he’s sick I’m incredibly grateful to provide that source of comfort and nourishment.

We sleep-trained when Ian was nine months old. We read and followed a book. He cried. I cried. We did check-ins. He adjusted quickly and for all intents and purposes, the training was “successful.” But I still don’t know how I feel about it. That’s a lie. I feel really sad about it. I worry that those cries were my child needing me and, while I didn’t leave him alone, I may have not been meeting his needs, and that breaks my heart. Lately, Ian has taken to calling out for me quite often in the middle of the night, or coming into our room. I actually enjoy this quiet time to snuggle him. His needs are so simple, and so easily met. He just wants connection. I often end up sleeping in his room for part of the night. He will be falling asleep and will periodically call out, “Mama?” “I’m right here, bud.” Then he sleeps. It feels like repair work. Making up for those nights where he cried and I stood in the doorway, afraid to pick him up and “undo” all the work the authors had told us to do.

I’m not sharing any of this in judgement of parents who train or use charts or whathaveyou. Having a child who hits has taught me to NEVER make any assumptions around what another parent should or should not do. My only belief is to do what works for your family, and the rest is none of my business. I just think it’s interesting how much parenting I did that was based on fear. Like, if we don’t sleep train, he’ll NEVER sleep through the night, or if we don’t provide incentives to use the potty, he’ll NEVER be out of diapers. If I don’t figure out how to stop his aggression, he’ll NEVER stop hitting. That last one I’m still struggling with, although I see progress (thank you thank you thank you to all that is holy, and Barbara Olinger).



3 comments on “An Absence of Training

  1. He is a darling boy. I can hear your love through your words. Being a mom really is as good as it gets. Despite the shitty days. Thoroughly enjoy your blog. Thank you for being a perfectly flawed mother.

  2. I guess this was quite a while ago! But thanks for responding to my blog. Hugo was also aggressive and has grown out of it. I never sleep trained him, but he is now waking a lot during the night, which is super difficult with a co-sleeping, light-sleeping, nursing infant. I guess it’s the age. It’s funny, Hugo was pooping on the potty 100% and just not caring about pee.

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