Salt stings

In fact, sometimes it burns. When presented an open wound salt shows no sympathy. Unfortunate, since we are usually most in need of some small kindness when in pain. I pride myself on being a good mother and on the accomplishments of my children. Don't mistake me, I don't think that we are perfect or of genius standard. Simply put I feel successful as a parent. Most of the time. The past three days have left me feeling, lets just say a little raw.

Today will mark day four of potty training my toddler, a task I was certain would prove quickly successful. As it turns out, I too am being trained. I find myself enrolled in advanced courses of patience, self control, and most important effective yet encouraging discipline.

I'll spare you the messy (literally) details. Every parent has horror stories on this subject. But my focus now is on the aftermath of this journey. We started on the right foot, I was maintaining patience, and she was performing beautifully.

Until she wasn't...

I lost my patience, but not by screaming or reprimanding. Instead I found myself disappointed and disheartened. My tactics weren't working, my words weren't being comprehended, my efforts weren't receiving reward, my clothes were full of potty, my body was tired...Oh wait. This...really wasn't...about me...was it?

I look at her, sitting on the potty chair, staring at me with tears in her eyes, "Mommy sad?"

Ouch. Suddenly things are feeling stingy.

So often as parents I find we use the wrong ruler to measure. One that evaluates our own success rather than the child's'. Of course in any encounter with our children we should be self aware and constantly revising our tactics. But when regarding their accomplishments (grades, athletics, tying shoes or other skill sets) I think we should try taking ourselves out of the focus of the picture. Attempt at being the fuzzy skyline in the background or the blurry arm in the corner of the shot. And let the kids feel this, too.

In practice, no longer does it matter if I was the parent able to potty train my toddler. Instead, my daughter becomes the toddler who loves her green underwear and makes valiant efforts to get them over her bottom. There's potty on my clothes? So what! Her willingness to help clean up messes demonstrate her remarkable servant heart. And this says nothing of her actual success on the potty chair. I can only imagine the successes today will bring, and I intend on making her feel proud.

Today will be salty.