I cry over the stupidest things sometimes.
Take today, for example, when I left the Y in tears. Why I left the Y in tears requires a tiny bit of backstory.
For the last two weeks, we’ve been focusing on potty training Isabelle. We committed to putting her in underwear as often as possible and dealing with the consequences. She’s been sporadic. Some days, no accidents. Other days, too many to count. Almost always, though, she has an accident when she’s at the Y Kids Korner. She plays with other kids and forgets and Mom and Dad aren’t around to ask her every hour if she needs to sit on the potty.
I thought today was going to be a good day. She pottied before we left the house. She pottied when we got to Kids Korner. I was gone an hour, and when I got back, she had just peed in her pants, and the staff was cleaning it up. The director, very kindly and sweetly, asked if Isabelle could wear training pants when she comes. Totally valid request, right? They’ve got dozens of kids to deal with. I wouldn’t want to be cleaning up pee every day, either. I agreed, but as I changed Isabelle’s clothes, I started to cry.
I felt like I should have known better. That I’d failed at potty training her. That I was stupid because I brought my daughter to group babysitting with no protection from pee accidents. And I was annoyed because this 5-year-old kid, very curious, asked me a ton of questions: What are you getting for her? Does she have to wear Pull-Ups? Why? My brother is 3, too. All while I’m trying to gather Isabelle’s fresh clothes and search for the socks that have fallen to the bottom of the diaper bag. I wanted to say, “Shut up and leave me alone, kid,” but I didn’t think that would help the situation.
I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. And I was so embarrassed that I knew Corban had a dirty diaper and I didn’t change it on the changing table. I waited till we were outside, in the car, to take care of it.
Driving home, I thought about my reaction. I already feel like I don’t measure up to the other Y moms. I don’t have cute little name-embroidered backpacks for the kids, or matching workout wear for myself. I envy their SUVs (for a moment) when I get into my just plain van. I overheard one mom talking about how she can’t do anything for herself, like brush her teeth in the morning, until the kids go to school. And I thought, “You get to brush your teeth in the morning?”
This is my first go-round with group daycare of any kind, excepting the nursery at church which doesn’t count in my mind, and I fear these inadequacy feelings will only get worse with preschool and school. I have this idea in my head that the other moms will be judging me and my kids every time they see us. Is that a normal feeling or am I just super paranoid?
I know I need a dose of my own medicine. Thanks for identifying with me.
Being a mom is hard. I don’t know why I make it harder by creating this “perfect mom” measuring stick to compare myself with.
On the way home, while I’m sinking into self-pity, trying to hold back the tears so I don’t make Isabelle think I’m upset with her for having an accident, I hear this sweet voice from the back say, “Guess what, Mom?”
“What?” I reply.
“I love you,” she says.
Sometimes I don’t cry when the moment might call for it. But she encouraged me with those three little words.
Later, Isabelle told me tales of another girl in the Kids Korner who was talking about puking in the bathroom.
Perhaps we’re in good company after all.