I work with a lot of lovely people, but one of my favorites is Donna. Two things you need to know about Donna- she has 4 kids, and she gives very good, very no-bullshit advice. So it stands to reason that if Donna gives you advice about parenting, it’s going to be pretty solid.
Which brings me to my story.
When I was watermelon-sized and knee-deep in panic about keeping two tiny humans alive, Donna dispensed this little jewel:
“The transition from 0 to 1 is hard, but 1 to 2 is definitely the worst. After that, 2 to 3 is a piece of cake, and 3 to 4? Forget it, it’s nothing. But 1 to 2 is definitely the worst. But you’ll get the hang of it.”
Grace will be 3 years old next week.
I’m still waiting to get the hang of it.
But in any case, Donna couldn’t have been more right.
I think the most challenging parts of going from 1 to 2 kids are the milestones. You get it done with kid #1 and think, “Easy peasy lemon squeezy!” Then kid #2 gets there and cuts up a lemon and squirts it into your eyes.
For instance, the crib to bed scenario.
“Vince, you’re 2 ½ years old now, and in a few months your little sister will be here and she needs a crib, so we think it’s time for you to sleep in a big boy bed.”
“A big boy bed?”
“Yup, so we bought you this Mickey Mouse bed!!”
“Mickey Mouse Craphouse?!” (he hadn’t quite mastered the “L” in2015)
“Yup! Why don’t we put it together and then you can take a nap in it.”
Never mentioned the crib again. Never got out of the bed when he wasn’t supposed to. Never looked back.
“You know, Grace, we just bought this house with a big girl room for you, and you’re going to be 2 years old, so we bought you this cool big girl bed!”
2017 (May, June, July, August, September, October):
“You know, Grace, we could just put your crib mattress in this big girl bed-“
“I like my big girl CRIB.”
“Santa might bring you cool, big girl toys if he sees you sleeping in a cool, big girl bed!”
“I want baby toys.”
“We’re just going to put this big girl bed in the basement.”
“You’re going to be 3 years old in a few weeks. You’re a big girl. You need to start doing big girl things. Pick one- sleep in the big girl bed or ditch the diapers because I am NOT bringing a pack-n-play and diapers on vacation. I will bring ONE of those things so CHOOSE.”
::Massive eye roll:: “I’ll sleep in the bed.”
2018 (Still July):
“Gracie, it’s 2am, you need to go back to your bed.”
“I want to sleep in your bed.”
“No, you need to learn-“
“I want to sleep in your bed.”
“No, you have a bed.”
“I miss my crib. You took my crib away. You BROKE it. Now it’s GONE. I want to be a BABY. I want my CRIB back-“
“Ok just get in here and go to sleep….”
Which brings me to our next saga….Potty. Training.
2015: I potty-trained Vince during the first 3 days of my maternity leave.
2016: I introduced Grace to the potty.
2017: I introduced Grace to the potty.
2018: I introduced Grace to the potty. Grace agreed to use the potty. Grace was almost completely potty-trained….aaaaand then we somehow landed on “Go To Diapers. Do Not Pass Pull-Ups. Do Not Collect the $100/Month you’d be saving on diapers, wipes, and various butt creams.”
So here we are, one week from her 3rd birthday, and she is so against potty training that she pulls off her underwear, craps on the floor, pulls up her underwear, and goes on her merry way.
She pees in a diaper and refuses to let me change it because, “I LIKE wearing dirty diapers!”
She peed on a dining room chair and insisted, “It’s fine. I went to the bathroom like a big girl…on this chair.”
Needless to say, this is not how I remember this milestone going the first time around.
Now, let me stop here to say a few things:
- I know that all children are different and develop at their own pace
- I have been patient, positive and gentle throughout this process, until the “nonchalantly crapping on the floor” incident
BUT- my seams are starting to come apart here.
And so, I did something I never, ever would have done with kid #1- I bribed her with sugar.
We were 45 minutes into our commute home yesterday when I heard, “Mommy, I have to potty.”
“Ok, Baby, we’re about 20 minutes from home so just go in your diaper. It’s ok.”
“I don’t have one.”
“I’m wearing my big girl underwear.”
Daycare had sent her home in underwear. We are SO far away from that point. So. Very. Far.
The panic set in pretty quickly.
“Ok, um, there are no bathrooms near here, Honey, can you…. cross your leggies???”
I imagined rivers of pee flowing from her carseat onto the backseat, down to the floor, under the front seat and onto my feet.
When this kid goes, she GOES.
“Ok Mommy. But I really have to poop too.”
Oh for the love of ALL that’s Holy.
So I said something I NEVER would have said to my raised-on-nothing-but-organic-greens first child.
“If you keep your big girl undies dry until we get home, I will give you 2 lollipops for dinner.”
I was too frantic to feel guilty. I was too busy navigating my way through traffic, rain, and a cop I was sure was going to pull me over for looking unhinged, inevitably causing my daughter to unleash a flood worthy of a Bible story.
You’ll never guess what happened.
She stayed dry.
I ran that girl into my house like we were being chased by a wild turkey, plopped her on the toilet, and….she used the potty!
I squealed, cheered and hugged her as she beamed with pride. I told her how proud I was, and she said, “Oh, Mommy, I’m so proud of me too!”
We did a victory dance to the kitchen, she giddily claimed her 2 lollipops, took a few licks of each, and then ate an entire, healthy, well-balanced dinner.
She did it. WE did it.
This was not at all how I remember it going with kid #1- any of it, really, but especially this stuff.
I did everything I swore I’d never do- lost my patience, gave up, resorted to bribery and ultimatums…so I’m not perfect. I was better the first time around.
Like Donna said, one to two is the WORST.
But you know what else it is?
It’s pretty damn rewarding.
When the milestones are easy, they’re exciting. But when they’re damn near impossible, and you somehow pull them off? Oh my God the elation. I cried and hugged the poor girl while she was still peeing.
So yes, one to two is tough. It makes you rethink everything you know as a parent. It makes you reinvent and rearrange and reconsider running away.
But it also makes you realize a few things.
- It may not happen easily, but it’ll happen.
- Sometimes lollipops are a pre-meal appetizer and that’s ok.