This article was originally printed in my MOPS group's "Pitter Patter" newsletter in March 2000 when my children were 3 and 1. If it is any consolation for those who are in the throes of potty training, I had forgotten all about this day!
It was one of those mornings where I had a big agenda. We needed to run some errands. I had been cooped up in the house for several days due to car trouble and this was my chance to start catching up on life on the outside.
I wanted to sandwich in four stops before nap-time struck. I packed juice and bottles, and extra clothes for my potty-training three year old, Holly, and diapers for my toddler, Elijah. Cool weather forced us to take a little longer to bundle up in jackets, but still we were making pretty good time.
We dropped off cute baby photo negatives with the developer. Check.
We made two deposits at the bank. Check. We were really clicking along. Maybe we would have time to swing by McDonald’s for a little snack and playtime. Let me be the hero today.
“But, first, let’s go to the craft store to get supplies for that Sunday School project.” Well, I found one thing on the list. “How ‘bout one last stop and then, I promise, we can go get something to eat.”
Party City. I needed “gummy worms” to complete my daughter’s Sunday School snack plans. They had them. This was a breeze.
Yes, a breeze with an odor. My son decided it was time for a potty break. I drove the cart down the aisle to the back of the store and checked out the situation. Two large unisex restrooms. So far, so good.
Trying to be quick and cool, rather than practical, I had thrown one diaper and one travel wipes box into the cart -- no need to lug in a whole diaper bag.
A peek through the open restroom door confirmed the sad fact, no diaper changing table. “Oh well, we’ve changed you on the floor before, haven’t we, big guy?” Holly looked doubtful. “Mommy can handle it.”
I pulled Elijah’s jacket off and laid it down for padding under his head. Then the struggle began. My sweet little boy did not want to lay down. He struggled and screamed until I had to throw one leg over top of his body to hold him down while I deftly removed the diaper.
Suddenly, the floor, his clothes, and my sweater were wet. My daughter said, “I told you not to change him on that floor.”
I was no longer the hero. I was upset and frustrated. I ripped his clothes off, threw on a new diaper and tried to clean up the toxic waste spill the best I could with paper towels while keeping Elijah from dipping his fingers in the toilet bowl. I hadn’t brought in any clean clothes, so I had to put his jacket on over his bare chest and zip it up. I had to put shoes on bare little feet.
“Let’s get out of here -- now!” Why is it, I wondered that I always go a half hour too long? I am sure the people we passed by were wondering why I chose to dress my son in practically nothing on such a chilly day. Bad mom.
“Pride goeth before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). I realized I was relying on myself to figure out what was best. I thought I could handle it on my own. God -- and Elijah -- proved me wrong again.
I need help.
I need God’s help for patience, strength and endurance. I get that through prayer.
I need my family’s help. I can’t face 24 hour shifts of care-taking on my own. I need my husband and babysitters to take charge sometimes.
I need to listen to wise counsel -- after all, Holly told me not to go in there.
I need to relax. I really don’t have to accomplish everything in one day. That last errand could have waited.
I need friends. People like you who read this and say, “Yeah, you think that’s bad? You should have seen when I took my kids to...”
Thanks for listening. Thanks for understanding.