Okay, it’s time to talk about potty training. I’ve had so many conversations with other moms about this and I feel like this is a universal rough spot of parenting.
I don’t really have a specific parenting style. I read books and articles, listen to podcasts, and like all of those infographics on Instagram. I feel informed in many areas, but don’t subscribe to a specific method or style. We take what works and discard the rest (or save it for later depending on the advice). This works for us, but sometimes I think it perpetuates the feeling that I’m always making a wrong decision. So many of these methods and styles contradict each other and since I pick and choose what I use I am never following a plan to a T. I’m never getting to check the boxes on everything. All of this means that by someone’s standards I’m always doing something “wrong”. I get now that’s kind of just par for the course in motherhood.
Well potty training was going to be different for us.
Our day one potty training experience sucked. Like obviously, yeah running your kid back and forth to the potty is a lot, and cleaning up pee from every floor in your home is rough, but it’s more than that.
We decided to start training early (a little before 23 months), because there is a local preschool program that we think Maddox will love. You can start once you turn two and you are potty trained. Everyone we mentioned this to was like “wow two is early”, but we read the books, took notes, and had a plan. He could stay my little baby in diapers for another year and I’d be fine with it, but thinking about the fun I know he will have at this program motivated me.
Well fast forward to day one of getting our plan in motion. We did everything the book said, and we were proud of how well we abided by the plan. Maddox was doing a great job sitting on the potty, but was really struggling with knowing when it was time to get to the potty. We had a day mixed with success and accidents. We stayed super positive through it. By the end of the day though, Maddox started getting so frustrated with himself. He’s smart and knows he’s supposed to be doing something, but he was really struggling to do it. He’s a natural problem solver so I knew he was really trying. It broke my heart. He patiently waited on the potty, allowed us to help him, and listened to our directions. He was exhausted and upset. We were exhausted and upset. Not because of accidents or mess but because seeing our little boy so frustrated with himself was horrible.
In every potty training and behavior book I’ve read about toddlers there is a focus on the independence you are giving your child by helping them learn things for themselves. You’re helping instill confidence in them and giving them the boundaries to explore and succeed safely. I definitely buy into this and we’ve seen it work with so many other milestones. It’s how our family functions each day.
Looking at this day through that lens made me question what we were doing. We were giving Maddox the boundaries, the rules, the tools, the encouragement. The effort was there fully from us and him, but this was not giving him confidence even when he was getting it “right”. Things just didn’t feel right. We were off the rails and fumbling our way through.
I was reluctant to stray from our plan because even the books say you’re “weak” or letting your child manipulate you. I was failing by not making this happen for him. Was I failing him? Or did I feel like I was failing myself? I’m not a quitter I thought. But I also want what is best for my son. If he’s not ready then why can’t we reevaluate? Reevaluating went against my instinct to always push forward and “complete the mission”, but as a parent, my mom instinct was twisting inside of me saying “you know your child best and you know how/what he responds to best. You know how he works. You may not be a parenting or toddler behavioral expert but you are the expert on Maddox.”
As he took a nap I obsessed over fearing I was letting him down by “giving up” on our plan, but then also fearing that I wasn’t doing what’s best for him as his mom who knows him best. Either way I felt like I was making a wrong decision (which honestly motherhood feels like this a lot).
Matt and I sat down at the end of the day and agreed on a pivoted plan that felt best for our son based on what we, his parents, the “Maddox experts” think. The weight felt lifted off of my shoulders and the knot inside my stomach loosened. That should be proof enough we made the “right” decision.
Well fast forward to once everyone is in bed and I’m still thinking about our choice. This has become an entire emotional mind fuck for me. Am I weak and letting my family down because I can’t follow “the plan”. Am I not dedicated enough? Am I not wanting to deal with the challenge? Somehow my entire worthiness as a mom and a person is hinged on this stupid potty training decision. Why.
I broke it down and by pivoting to a custom Maddox plan as we call it there really are no downsides for him. He will eventually be potty trained, when he is developmentally ready. He may not be able to start preschool right away, but he can start when he’s ready. There are plenty of other ways he can socialize, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. All is good.
All of the negatives are based on me feeling like I failed him, me feeling like weak, and me feeling like I didn’t do things “right”. Logically I know this sounds crazy, but once you read enough parenting advice that literally threatens you not to divert from the plan and you’re a type A personality it really can take hold of you.
How could I have predicted that the most traumatic part of potty training would not be accidents all over our new house, but instead the emotional weight of trying to do what’s best for your child, while also trying to figure out what the heck that is.
I guess the moral of the story here is a few things:
You know your kid best, you may not be a parenting expert but you’re an expert at being their parent
Plans, books, and advice for parents read very black and white. On paper it is nice and neat and makes perfect sense. In practice though our kids are all of the messy but beautiful colors in between so we have to figure out how to navigate that. A black and white plan isn’t always the answer.
Parenting really throws your biggest insecurities in your face and makes you face them head on. As you child grows you are growing emotionally too.
So a month out from our original potty training weekend, we are continuing to practice our “Maddox plan”. He is wearing training diapers and practicing going to the potty. He is a lot happier, we are a lot happier, and we will get this potty training thing down fully when it’s the right time for our family.
Back in May we shared the news that we are adding a new little one to the Pickens family! I really wanted to do a cute shoot to announce the pregnancy, but also focus on Maddox becoming a big brother. To us that was part of what made the news so exciting! We had an adorable "Big Bro" jacket made for him, thanks to Amy Scripts. After we say how cute it was we decided to fully embrace the denim thing as a family.
We worked with my friend Jade (Jade Nikkole Photography) to bring the vision to life. We opted for lots of candids (a must when shooting with a toddler!) and wanted to highlight the genuine happiness as we told Maddox what it was going to be like to be a big brother.
I shared a few of these precious photos in our social media announcements, but wanted to give them a moment here too since they are so special to us.
I have been a Pete Davidson fan for forever. The reasons I started to really love him are that he has Crohn’s Disease (so do I) and that he is so open about mental health. These two things are so close to my heart.
A few years ago during his Ariana Grande days, people were making fun of him for having “butthole eyes”. Grande fired back on Twitter explaining that Davidson has an autoimmune disease and one of the symptoms is having sunken eyes due to dehydration. Later in an interview with Tan France, Davidson replied to the comments by sharing that he has Crohn’s Disease. Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune condition that causes chronic inflammation throughout the digestive tract. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea, vomiting, pain, and fatigue among many other ailments ranging from mild to severe. While it is commonly regarded as an invisible illness, there are visible manifestations that sometimes occur. There is currently no known cure. There are very few public figures who have openly shared their diagnosis of and experiences surrounding their Crohn’s Disease. Pete’s admission is one of the first times I had heard Crohn’s Disease talked about publicly since my diagnosis in 2015. Obviously the reactions to Pete’s revelation were not favorable and only fueled the already present stigma of Crohn’s Disease. Pete was at the end of an insulting and downright rude joke.
Now, fast forward a few years to today. Davidson is a successful person in his own right and his fame has been inflated even more with his recent relationship with Kim Kardashian. This man who openly shares his struggles and has a disease that is often taboo or considered “gross” is not only super successful with his own accomplishments, he is also dating one of the most successful, influential, and beautiful women in the world.
In the recent episode of “The Kardashians” on Hulu, Kim gushed about Pete and how she is having some of the best moments of her life with him. Now that Pete is majorly in the spotlight, I haven’t heard anyone mention Pete’s Crohn’s Disease (and certainly no “butthole eyes” comments). This shift in public commentary is a welcome one I’m sure, as no one wants to be defined or ridiculed by their illness. With Pete’s ever rising fame and influence, I do wonder if Pete and/or Kim speaking out now could help change the stigma around Crohn’s Disease and invisible and chronic illnesses in general.
Pete has already done so much for changing the stigma around mental health through his openness about his own struggles. Mental health with men is a hugely under discussed issue and he sheds light on it in a humorous and approachable way. Kim is no stranger to mental health struggles either. Her ex-husband, Kanye West, has publicly suffered from his own mental health issues over the years. Kim has been an important part of the mental health conversation acting as a supportive partner and addressing how she’s handled this with her family.
Together Pete and Kim are a powerhouse of influence who have already made an impact in the area of mental health. They have the opportunity now to shift the stigma not only around chronic illness, but also being a partner to someone with a chronic illness. Of course, this is all extremely personal so if Pete chooses not to ever speak about his Crohn’s Disease publicly again, I respect that completely. I just want to put it out into the universe that if he does feel comfortable sharing his experience, I know there are many of us who would welcome it with great appreciation.
As a Pete fan (and a Kim fan), I have to close the article saying that I love that they have found such happiness together and I send them the best wishes. I can’t wait to see what this powerhouse couple does, whether it’s being blissfully in love away from the spotlight or sharing more about their experience together.
Every year I use the Nordstrom sale to grab a few pieces that will be staples in my wardrobe that Fall/Winter. These are my choices this year. Versatile + easy to mix and match. Also all are bump friendly so I don’t have to wait until after baby gets here to wear them.
I also use the Nordstrom sale to stock up on my cozy essentials. A new Barefoot Dreams cardigan and these short sleeve pajamas are on my list every year. This year I added another cute set, a pair of leggings I’ve heard great things about, and Ugg slippers.
The Nordstrom sale is also a great time to stock up on gifts. Here are a few ideas that are sure to be crowd pleasers. All are under $75 and are perfect for a variety of occasions.
What are the top items on your list this year?
Mental health advocate.
Sharing my raw and real journey through motherhood and navigating Crohn’s Disease. CrohnicallyBlonde is a place where I serve up my unfiltered commentary on chronic illness, mental health, pregnancy, and motherhood alongside lighter lifestyle content like beauty product reviews, travel tips, and book recommendations. My hope is that by authentically sharing my story I can help others going through similar situations not feel so alone and maybe even laugh along with me.