“I don’t have to poop!!!!!!!!”
I’m sitting on the bathroom floor next to where my two year old is screaming at the top of his lungs on the toilet. We’ve been at this for twenty minutes.
“It’s time to poop, George. Put the poop in the potty.”
I know the kid has to go. He knows he has to go. He just won’t. We’ve been potty training for about two months and it’s been going well. George got the hang of it remarkably fast. Until we had a bit of a regression. Now he’s afraid to go number 2 and it’s a whole thing.
Basically he holds it in for several days and becomes extremely uncomfortable until finally after lots of begging and pleading and tears and prunes and minutes sitting on the toilet, the situation is resolved. It’s been like this for a while.
“I don’t want to,” he says, tears spilling from the corners of his eyes.
I glance at my watch. Twenty-five minutes.
“Okay,” I sigh. “We can try again in a little bit.”
It’s moments like this when I feel like my life force is slowly draining from my body, bit by bit. Do I have a gray hair now? Surely I’m aging exponentially faster after this.
I help George shimmy his pants back up and he skips off to play. It’s been a long morning of laundry and grocery shopping and tidying up the house (with about three tantrums sprinkled in there) and I just don’t feel like negotiating with a two year old terrorist anymore.
I leave the bathroom and almost step on a dinosaur. I put it away and go to reheat my mug of coffee in the microwave.
“Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?” Auden wants me.
I close my eyes briefly. I could use just like two minutes of not having to help someone. “Yes?”
He asks me to help him put the red glove on.
I do, and watch as he beams widely at his hand before going to find George. This stupid red glove is one of my boys’ favorite things to play with. They love putting it on—with my assistance of course—and wearing it around the house. I don’t quite understand the fascination with the red glove. At this point, it’s falling apart and has a giant hole, but they love it. Go figure.
I take a sip of my coffee and survey the rest of the kitchen. Not too messy. I need to make lunch soon and then get the boys down for a nap.
Auden only sleeps half the time, but he’s supposed to “rest” if he can’t sleep. Usually listen to him chattering and playing by himself over the audio monitor.
“Mommy! Auden hit me!” George calls.
I close my eyes yet again. I don’t feel like dealing with another squabble. Can’t they just get along? I thought siblings were supposed to be friends, and it feels like all they do is fight and bicker with one another.
I take a deep breath. Say a prayer of patience.
“Okay, boys. What happened?”
It’s officially May. The month we were supposed to have our baby girl, Isla.
But two miscarriages later and I am thoroughly not pregnant.
May feels bittersweet. I’m so glad the weather is turning warm and we’re spending so much more time outside. I’m so glad Rob is wrapping up the school year and will be home for the summer soon. Yet I feel so sad, because I was supposed to be holding a newborn soon too, and I won’t be now.
The other night, I was lamenting to Rob about how discouraged I am. I’m feeling a bit lost and empty, feeling sad about the miscarriages and just longing to be pregnant again. I long to be back in the baby stage, yet that stage feels so far away and possibly unattainable. I feel impatient about the necessary healing process, discontented and unsettled about life after loss. He listened kindly and encouraged me to be present in life as it is right now.
Be present in life as it is right now.
That means being present during the potty training. Present as I sit next to the screaming two year old on the toilet. Present when the boys squabble over the red glove or over a dropped sticker in the car. Present when I hear “Mommy mommy mommy” for the thousandth time that day. Present during all the times when I’d rather be checked out.
If I’m present for all of that, then I’m going to be present for all the good stuff too. And, man, is there a lot of good stuff in life right now.
Auden praying a sweet tender prayer before bedtime.
George resting his head against my chest as I sing “You are my sunshine” in the rocking chair.
The boys running around the living room with Rob after a baseball game chanting along to “Go Cubs Go”.
Auden asking me ridiculous yet heartfelt questions on the way to school.
Sitting across a restaurant table from Rob as we reconnect after a long day on a date night.
George figuring out how to put on his socks.
The boys giving each other an unprompted and impromptu hug.
Sitting around our kitchen table with friends on a Saturday night.
Surprising the boys with a trip to the ice cream store.
Watching British detective shows in the evenings, snuggled up next to Rob.
Auden, showing me how he wrote his name in chalk on the patio.
Stolen kisses from Rob while doing dishes.
When the boys learn something for the very first time and I’m the teacher.
Being called “Mommy.”
When I slow down and choose to be present, I realize just how sweet life is right now.
It’s true that I’m still grieving. It’s true that the month of May is tough. It’s true that I long for a baby. But it’s also true that I don’t want to miss out on right now. Because the reality is, I don’t know if we will ever have another baby. I don’t know what the future holds. But I do know the present, and I have three guys—two little and one big—that need my attention and love and focus.
The boys are only going to be this age once, and I don’t want to be so longing for the next stage that I miss out on the one right in front of me. And I don’t want to take my marriage for granted, eight years in, but instead intentionally cultivate the love that it needs to keep growing strong.
So, no, potty training is not my favorite part of life right now. But, no, I’m not going to wish it away. I’m going to keep praying for another baby, as well as praying for peace if that is not God’s plan for us. And in the meantime, I am going to present in life as it is right now.