Photo: Marisa Svalstedt

By now everyone has gotten word that potty training is the pits. It isn’t a simple explanation from parent to child while sitting comfortably in Betty Draper’s powder room. In most cases, it involves actual work, and not the kind of work that’s completed in two hours, giving one just enough time to fit a grocery shopping trip in before dinner. It’s emotionally draining for both parent and child. While there are some out there who are able to breeze through this process with the help of a very enthusiastic child, happily giving up their diapers to become a “big kid,” it’s best to assume it’s most likely going to be more like chaos, that possibly smells. One sees things they never expect to see, does things they never imagined they’d do, and says things they never thought would come up in everyday conversation without so much as a second thought. Honestly, it changes a person. You’ll feel emotional, see a lot of yucky, and become surprisingly unfiltered.

There will be pee everywhere.

You may not see it, you may not smell it, yet, but believe me, it’s there. Potty seats don’t move from the toilet to that little hanger thing without dripping something on your bathmats, or floors, and as much as you hope they will, your little darlings won’t always wipe very well.  The bathroom may seem clean. You may half-heartedly inspect and assume it’s just fine, but rest assured, there is pee. Have the Clorox ready.

There shall be rejoicing…over bodily functions.

That’s right. You will seriously celebrate a turd successfully making it into the toilet in the same manner as a drunken football fan celebrating his team scoring the winning touchdown on Super bowl Sunday, and you will mean it with all your heart.

The celebrating will continue in public.

After making a big deal over finally using the toilet successfully, all those songs you made up, and all that praise will eventually seep through the cracks of your bathroom door and follow you on outings. It may come in the form of accidently singing songs about going to the bathroom while grocery shopping; or your child may happily scream, “I went poopie on the potty!” in the center of a crowded parking lot or in the middle of dinner at Olive Garden. It’s a heck of a balance trying to appear encouraging for the sake of your proud child between mouthing, “I’m sorry” to surprised onlookers.

There will be far more TMI.

As though you thought you couldn’t get any more graphic about your adventures in baby raising…You will start sending beloved family members text messages along the lines of, “I just had to have a conversation about skid marks, and why they happen,” when they are simply inquiring via text about how your day is going.

You will throw things away without a second thought.

Remember the days you lovingly scrubbed food stains off your favorite onesie? Forget about salvaging that adorable pair of Paw Patrol underwear. I’m all for not being wasteful but when your kid has a #2 accident at Target those undies are going straight to the trash. I’m not a hero. I’m too keen on sticking poopie pants into a plastic bag for the thrill of bringing them home to scrape, and scrub. I need to get to the check-out counter and complete my mission because I may not make it back to Target for two whole days. For now, toss the crappy clothes, buy new ones, done. This will later become excellent conversation material for the fellow mothers in ballet class.

If you have a girl…

If you have a girl your husband will complain about how inconvenient it is taking his daughter out because going to the bathroom is impossible. He will explain that men are disgusting and pee all over the seats, and how it’s just not sanitary. I’ve got news for you honey. Women are nasty too. They also pee on the seats, and you don’t even want to know what monstrosity I saw happening in the toilet at Starbucks yesterday. While we are on the subject, you wouldn’t believe the bodily horrors I found working in the fitting rooms at Macys. If I told you about what some of these “ladies” accomplished you’d probably never feel the same about women ever again. Which gender should be regarded as “more gross” is highly debatable.  Now take your daughter to the bathroom.

It is a surpisingly powerful bonding experience…in one of the least expected places…

Potty training changes a person, because in order to make it through one needs to become positive and patient while feeling frustrated, desensitized to the gross, and also, ready for the bonding experience of a lifetime. That’s right. Toilet training a little one surprisingly brings parent and child closer together. Even though the kid is the one expected to deliver results, parents are the people who cheer them on, maintain positive reinforcement, and persist when things appear impossible. It’s icky, and discussion people don’t necessarily want to hear about over dinner, but it’s also, well, kind of wonderful. It’s pretty awesome helping these little ones become more self-sufficient, finally achieving success at last. When you are sitting on the bathroom floor, holding your child’s hands assuring them it’s all going to be OK, you forget for a spell about the icky occurrences, unnecessarily graphic conversations, and simply soak in a moment being the source of encouraging, understanding, and loving strength. The rest will become nothing more than a good laugh, most assuredly during the least appropriate of moments.