When my first-born daughter was two, I decided it was time to potty train.

She was showing signs of readiness that I’d talked to our pediatrician about and read about in books. She seemed excited when I bought the potty chair and the big girl underwear. Many of my friends were effortlessly training their 18-month-olds and assured me that books like Potty Training in a Day or other similar methods would work for me, too.

I figured, how hard can it be?

The Potty Training Battle

A month later, what had started as an upbeat endeavor had turned into a raging battle. My strong-willed girl and I were going head to head in the potty training wars. I had read every book. Exhausted every bribe and reward system. Asked everyone I knew for advice.  And that day, as she yelled, “No!” yet again in response to my requests to sit on the potty, I realized I was losing the battle.

Overwhelmed with frustration and discouragement, I sat in defeat. I felt like there must be something wrong with me or my child because other people made it look so easy. In that moment of surrender, I had an epiphany. Maybe there was nothing wrong with my training efforts or my daughter’s abilities. Maybe she just wasn’t ready yet.

So I reluctantly brought the diapers back out and shelved the whole potty training thing. Months passed and people would inquire, “Is she potty trained yet?” To which I would smile and reply, “No, not yet.” Her third birthday came and went and she still had no desire to use the potty.

And Then, Unexpectedly…

Right about the time I had resigned myself to canceling her spot in preschool (since being potty trained was one of the requirements), my daughter walked up to me at age three years and two months and announced that she was ready to use the potty. Not only did she practically train herself, but she was completely trained in two days.

While I set out to teach my daughter, she taught me an essential lesson in how to make decisions as a mother. I learned that while it’s wise to consult my pediatrician, read books, and ask for advice from family and friends, it’s more important to remember that I know my child better than anyone else. Each child has their own developmental timetable. When I remember that my child came with unique gifts and abilities and I was chosen to be her mother, I can confidently discern how to make the right decisions for my family; even if that means buying another pack of diapers.