I see parents of toddlers grow misty-eyed, imagining the day that they’ll be done with diapers. They don’t look forward to potty training, of course, but they look forward to having children who are potty trained.
I have a confession to make.
Having my toddlers in diapers was far easier than having potty-goers.
Now my children are 8 years old and fully capable of going to the bathroom alone and cleaning up after themselves. I love their independence in this department. I know that going through potty-training (a story for another day) and toddler bathroom visits was necessary to get here.
We used disposable diapers exclusively, mostly because I went back to work when my daughters, J and M, were 11 weeks old and their daycare centre wasn’t about to deal with cloth diapers. We were able to increase our retirement contributions once we stopped having to budget for diapers. I liked not having to pay for them.
I just really disliked having bathroom-going toddlers. Diaper-related peace of mind was worth the money.
In the Days of Diapers, my daughters would wiggle into my lap, one on each knee. I’d hold a book in front of them while they took turns pointing out animals or colours or shapes. Every now and again, I’d feel a great warmth on my knee and know that someone was going to need a diaper change. M might even tell me what was up. “My go pee-pee!” I would let her know that I was aware of her situation. We’d finish the book, I’d reach to the nearest diaper station, place a blanket on the floor, wipe and change, head to the trash and wash my hands.
Then the potty switch happened. M and J would sit in my lap. We’d start looking at a book, when suddenly, “My go potty!” So we’d push the book aside and rush to the bathroom. I’d installed a toilet seat with a child insert, so we didn’t need to mess with the seat too much. J would pee, I would wipe, M would whine. I’d flush, and M would cry because it was loud. We’d all wash our hands because M had probably touched something she shouldn’t have while I focused on J. I’d pull J’s panties and pants back up and ask M if she needed to go potty. She would decline, so we’d head back to our book, at which time, the girls would bicker over whose turn it was. We’d have just settled back down when it started again. “My go potty,” M would tell me.
Rinse and repeat.
In the Days of Diapers, we could get through the grocery store in about 45 minutes to one hour, even with strangers stopping us to ask about The Great Mystery of Twins. I’d seat M and J side by side in the child area of the cart, confer with my list, and play a game of “Find the Shape” or “Where’s that Letter” as I worked my way through the aisles. If the girls were wet, they were wet. I could change them at home or, in a pinch, on the passenger seat of the car.
Once we were in the Period of Potty Trained, grocery store visits doubled in length. We’d always need to stop at least twice, abandoning our cart to visit the bathroom, sometimes exiting to discover that a hardworking store worker had put all our supplies back on the shelves. My daughters being so tiny, there was a very real chance of them falling into the store toilets, so each little girl would wrap her little arms around my neck to hold herself up while she emptied her bladder or bowel under my nose. More often than not, they had to go at the same time and it was The End of the World. When you’re 3, everything is The End of the World.
Then there was the time that J threw herself on a bowling alley bathroom floor in a fit of rage. I really missed diapers then.
Every drive, no matter how short, now took 30 minutes longer than it used to. I took to storing a spare potty, plastic bags, and a towel for privacy in the trunk. I still needed the diaper bag for the extra clothes needed for bathroom accidents. Yes, I needed clothes for me too. There’s nothing like showing up to work smelling like pee.
I got to know the variety of public bathrooms that exist in the USA. Porta Potties win the prize for least maneuverable with twins. M was convinced that she would fall in and drown, so add to the stench and small space a screaming 3-year-old trying to decide if she was more concerned about her own impending death or her sister’s.
In the Days of Diapers, I’d been the mother who showed up to everything with her kids, always prepared and always ready to participate in whatever was going on around town. With newly potty-trained J and M, our social sphere narrowed, every outing being planned around the least gross available bathrooms.
Like every other painful part of parenting, it was just a phase. One day, out for dinner, J waved me off when I rose to go with her to the restaurant bathroom. She knew where it was and what to do. She was far too old to need parental supervision to go to the bathroom.
I stopped missing diapers… and realized I missed having toddlers.
How do you feel about diapering?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.