What Potty Training Tells You About Your Marriage

I'm thick in the midst of potty training my youngest and, well, some days I think it may kill me. Not only does it test my tolerance for "gross," but it can also be mentally exhausting as I ask repeatedly, "Do you need to potty yet? How about now?" I've noticed there are some things you can only learn about marriage after potty training so I guess, in the middle of all that bathroom gunk, there's a little optimism buried. Yay? Yeah, I'll go with, "Yay."

With my daughter (who is now 10), training her to use the bathroom was definitely a learning experience in and of itself. Still, she passed with flying colors (and few accidents to her credit). My partner and I had her out of the nighttime pull-up when she was 5 years old, which is exactly how old my son is now. My son, on the other hand, has zero interest in staying dry through the night. Sigh. I realize they're different kids but I'm like, "Dude. I don't want to be changing your pee pants at your high school graduation so let's get this thing done!" Of course, he thinks I'm hilarious and that wearing underwear and staying dry through the night is a distant dream or fable and something he (apparently) doesn't think he's capable of. Sigh again.

Through all of these trials and tribulations (and more sighing and eye rolling), my relationship with my partner has gone on a ride of its own. Years ago, when we referred to our trusty potty chart to inspire our daughter, I don't remember feeling as frustrated (read: tired) as I do now. Even when our daughter had those accidents, it felt easier to chalk it up to trial and error. She seemed to learn by each one and upped her "dryness game." She was empowered by staying dry whereas, our son is really indifferent about all of it.

Just in the last couple of weeks, my partner has decided to teach our son how to stand while peeing. Prior to his noble endeavor, my son had to sit because he's so tiny. I've never been more mortified to walk into the bathroom than I am now. Have you witnessed, or been part of, this process? Just thinking about it gives me chills. Through it all, I can definitely say my partner and I have learned more than we ever thought possible about our children's bathroom habits, our frustration levels, and the quality of our marriage (and how much it actual sh*t it can take without breaking)!

We Have Different Ideas On "Cleanliness"

At the rick of sounding "uppity," I have a high standard for cleanliness. Part of that is due to my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and part of it is having grown up in not-so-clean conditions (yes, the two are related). In both potty-training journeys with two kids, it's become clear that my partner and I have different levels of "clean." I think the bathroom shouldn't smell like one, while he's OK with pee left on some places. You see where our problem lies?

Our Bathroom Etiquette Is Vastly Different From One Another

Along the same lines, when my partner is taking care of taking our son to the bathroom, I have naively assumed things are getting wiped well, hands are washed, and all messes will not be left for me to get to. I have also learned I'm wrong to assume those things.

What My Partner Deems "Successful" Is Not My Definition

Success can be defined in many ways when potty training. Making it in the toilet is one. Actually getting to the bathroom in time, is another. I try to keep my toilet standard low with our youngest. However, I've discovered my partner's definition of potty success is more like "he only got pee on part of the rim" or "his underwear was mostly dry." We're learning to meet in the middle here.

Only One Of Us Ever Changes The Toilet Paper Roll

It's me. I'm the only one in the entire house of four people who has mastered the lost art of changing one empty roll to a new, full one. Apparently, it's a science that requires a mother's touch or something but oh, how I would love to hear it's been changed without me. I may not have known this if it weren't for teaching our children how to do it. Though, there are many times I still find a new roll started, but placed on the floor next to the toilet.

Apparently Pull-Ups And Diapers Can Go On Two Different Ways

I've relied on the old standard of the front goes in the front and the back, well, you know what I'm getting at. Apparently, my partner and I have not been doing the same way every time. Same goes for underwear. And guess what? No matter how you put the things on, my son finds a way to pee through it. Go figure.

We Have Different Timelines For Getting Our Kid Out Of A Wet Pull-Up

I very much prefer to get that gross thing off my son's behind the second my sort-of toddler flips his eyes awake because he's been lying in the urine all night. I've found my partner (and even grandparents) may wait a few, make a cup of tea, check phone notifications, etc, before getting around to it. No. Just, no. Potty training is one wet moment to the next, I guess.

Rewards Are Subjective

We've tried the potty chart with stickers. The potty chart with toys. Candy. Bribes of all levels. The damn moon. My partner would just as easily say "just go to the bathroom" and that's that. But I'm Mom. I will drive seven states away to get that thing they've requested if he, or she, will just go potty. What can I say? It's what I do (and highly effective).

A marriage can survive potty training! We're doing it right now! And while there are many (many) times we're caught in a dumb argument about wiping or pull-ups, in the end, it's about getting our kids to stay dry in underwear and use the toilet so they can function in society when they're 30. So far, we're nailing it. Sort-of.