Who Pooped on the Deck? And Other Twin Potty Training Nonsense

wp-1485523235578.jpgI’m making dinner and my husband is late. The twins are playing on the deck with their big brother, all within my sight through the sliding door. I look up from chopping onions and realize that both twins are pooping on the deck at the same time. One is pooping on the little potty that is on the deck, and the other twin is actually pooping on the deck itself.

Did I mention that the 100 pound dog is also outside? She eats anything.

I drop my knife and race outside. I somehow simultaneously chase the dog away, clean up the poop on the deck, and praise the child who pooped in the right place. (What’s with the smug look? You mean moms of singletons don’t put potties on the deck? Must be nice.) I make a mental note that we need more trash bags. Lots more. And paper towels. Lots more. And then it’s time to clean two bottoms.

EVERYBODY INSIDE NOW! I MEAN IT!

Dinner will have to boil over. My husband cannot be late again during potty training. It is not sanitary to make dinner and clean up two poops at the same time. I don’t care how many times I wash my hands: IT’S JUST NOT SANITARY.

Need a great diet plan for yourself? Gross yourself out with twin potty training, and you may never want to eat again. Holy crap, there is a lot of crap. I could write a book about this crap. A series of books. This whole thing will be funny someday, right? RIGHT?! I need a reward. A reward that doesn’t involve poop. I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel made of poop.

I must be really bad at potty training. This ain’t my first rodeo, though. I did manage to potty train my oldest son, who had some issues, AND do so while I was recovering from dying during childbirth AND taking care of newborn twins. So, yeah, I have done this before.

Yes, we’ve tried bribes, threats, special toys, candies, treats, rewards, punishments, ignoring, zipping my lips, talking about it nonstop, charts, potty watches, potty parties, no pullups, being naked, potty movies, potty seats, potty chairs, travel potties, outdoor peeing, outdoor pooping, flooding them with juice, restricting their liquid, having them clean their own accidents, fun underwear, non-fun underwear. Yes, tried that. A lot. Often. All of it. They don’t care.

I thought that potty training twins might be easier than training a singleton. I mean, they could learn from each other, right? Cheer each other on? At the very least, I could count on getting it all over with at the same time. Right?! WRONG.

I didn’t predict that, yes, more than once, one twin would be pooping upstairs while one twin would be pooping downstairs. I didn’t know I would have to decide, in a millisecond, which twin is more likely to need my help to get the underwear down / sit down properly / make it in time. And if I decided that it is the twin that is on a different house level, then would I even make it there in time? If not, I’ve got two potty problems to deal with instead of one. Better stick to the twin closest to me and just assume an accident is happening elsewhere. I didn’t predict that scenario.

I also didn’t predict that I would get the twins up from “quiet time” two minutes before we had to leave for big brother’s bus stop, only to discover pee and poop in one or both of their beds. Have you ever showered a toddler or two AND gotten them dressed and shoe-d and out the door in two minutes? Didn’t think so. There was a LOT of crying that day. I was basically pushing them around like a grocery cart. A grocery cart in a game show about racing around for groceries. Didn’t see that coming.

I also didn’t see far enough ahead to realize there’s only one toilet on each floor, but there’s two of them. (Twins have been known to share one toilet. I’ve been forewarned. Not gonna describe that though.) I didn’t realize that we would have to resort to the dumb potty chairs – although they do come in handy for playing on the deck. I didn’t predict that we would have two potty chairs on each level of the house. That’s a lot to clean up. I also didn’t know that my twins would apparently be giants, because all but one of the potty chairs would be too small for them. (Not gonna describe that either. But I’m sure you can use your imagination.) I didn’t realize that they would fight over the one potty chair, even though we had four of them. We might as well have trained them on the real toilet anyway. Argh.

The thing is… the twins are TWINS. They have special Jedi mind tricks. Mind control. I don’t know what they’re doing to me or to each other, but it’s on a whole different level than … everything else. If one twin progresses, the other stalls. If one twin suddenly develops a fear of toilets, he will pass that along to the other. No matter which way it goes, it’s not the right way.

The only thing I know about potty training is that it doesn’t progress in a straight line. And, if twins are involved? I don’t even know what that graph would look like.

As the twins splash in the bath, and my dog sits by herself in her crate to think about just what she has done, and my older son enjoys some good old-fashioned PBS, my dinner burns. I sigh. I pick up my phone and text my husband that he better bring home a pizza, a lot of paper towels and trash bags, and maybe some hard drugs. And I warn him never to be late ever, ever, ever again.

 

Regular thoughts vs. Anxiety Thoughts

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Me. Worrying.

Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me. Well, “tricks” makes it sound kind of fun and playful. These tricks are neither fun nor playful. Hmm, maybe “my mind” isn’t the best phrase either. Let me start over.

Sometimes my brain chemicals try to screw me over.

The same things happen to me on good days as do on bad days. No matter how good or bad my brain chemistry is acting, I still have to make the same amount of meals, wipe the same amount of bums, and hear the same amount of chaos. The difference is whether or not I can handle those things.

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Me. Hiding.

Some days, I can calmly look around and survey the damage and prioritize my responsibilities. Other days, I look around at my life and I … feel like when I’m swimming and I think the bottom of the lake is right there, but then my toes realize that I can’t touch the bottom and I panic and tread water even though I know I know how to swim.

And then, I shut down. Zombie mommy takes over. I don’t know what to do about anything and I slowly lose the ability to do anything. I lose the ability to prioritize. Everything seems huge and every attempt on my part seems inadequate or even just wrong. On a “good” day, I might look back and wonder why on earth I couldn’t handle that stupid little event/ responsibility / feeling/ chore/ request.

Here is how my brain handles things on good days versus bad days…

The houseplant needs water.                                                            
Regular thought: Where did I put that watering can? Which kid will help me water this plant?
Anxiety thought: I kind of like watching this plant die.

My kids go to their rooms for their regularly scheduled “quiet time”.
Regular thought: These kids really benefit from quiet time. We all need a break.
Anxiety thought: Shouldn’t I be doing some cute craft with them or something? I shouldn’t need a break from my own children.

I see a book on the floor that I had promised to read to them but didn’t.
Regular thought: Oh, I better remember to read that to them tomorrow!
Anxiety thought: I am the worst mother ever. How could I promise something and not follow through? These kids will never keep trusting me if I don’t mean what I say.

I am late to something.
Regular thought: Ugh, I tried hard. Oh well, people understand that I have potty-training twins and can’t always be on time.
Anxiety thought: I am never on time. Everyone else manages to be on time, no matter how many kids they have. What is wrong with me?

There are piles of laundry on the couch.
Regular thought: I can’t believe how much mud and pollen three small boys can get into in the spring!  Let’s get this folding started. It won’t be so bad in the summer time.
Anxiety thought: There is no point. Laundry never ever ends. Other moms can handle their laundry with bigger families than mine. What is my excuse? I can’t even look at this pile.

I need to start making dinner.
Regular thought: Let me consult my meal planner on the wall to remember what I am making tonight. Ok, I need to start that in ten minutes.
Anxiety thought: Everyone is going to need me while I’m making dinner. It’s so impossible. They won’t even want to eat what I planned anyway. Why do I bother?

My husband calls and says he will be late coming home from work tonight.
Regular thought: Ugh, not again. Ok, let’s get this over with.
Anxiety thought: I will be doing this alone forever. I can’t handle this. I can’t handle them.

I have a whole lot of emails/ texts/ messages/ calls to respond to.
Regular thought: Well, people understand that I have twins. I’ll get to them sooner or later.
Anxiety thought: People make time for me, yet I can’t seem to make time for them. I am a really bad friend. I am going to lose the friends I’ve got.

Everyone is crying at the same time.
Regular thought: Let me see who has the most serious need and handle him first.
Anxiety thought: I don’t know what to do. I want to hide in the bathroom.

The house is a mess.
Regular thought: Well, I have three small boys! What do I expect it will look like? It’s not like I have a cleaning crew. I’ll clean it when they go to kindergarten.
Anxiety thought: I am a failure.

Even on a bad day, I know I can’t believe the anxiety thoughts. But it’s so hard. I know I shouldn’t listen to that crap. I know it’s not real. These “tricks” are all so new to me. I can’t believe how much effort it takes to both hear them and not to listen to them. On a good day, I just handle it. Handle it and move on.

Besides my migraines, anxiety has absolutely been my biggest challenge to my parenting. Sometimes I imagine what kind of mother I could be without anxiety or migraines strangling me. I can’t decide if thinking like that makes me feel better or worse.

Yes, what I do is really really hard. I am not sure that anyone in my situation would be able to do any better. At least, that’s what I have to tell myself. Having three small children, one of them with special needs, a couple of them potty training, and all of them very very dependent on me, would take a toll on anyone. Right?

It makes me really sad to read what I have written – to put this stuff in words. But I usually can’t heal from something until I write it down. I think better when I write. Let’s just hope I can learn to think better during the bad days, too.