“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ― Winston S. Churchill

When my daughter was born, I had lots of ideas of how all of this would look. How she might take longer to reach milestones, but she’d reach them. How life might look different, but the same. Just slower. Things would just take more time. Life would be life, but it would just take longer to get there.

But over the course of five years, I’ve realized that my very definition of success has changed. It’s not just celebrating the little milestones. It’s a bit different.

This past week, I had a tough conversation about potty training that put me in a funk about the entire process. Mia has been struggling to go for other people besides me and her nanny. And the discussion of “Is Mia really potty trained?” came up. Is Mia really potty trained?

I started the process of training Mia a little over a year ago. It took about ten days for her to figure out what I wanted her to do when she sat down. And she pretty much immediately made the connection that she should hold it between those times. But she’s not to a point where she will go on her own. And she doesn’t give me an indication that she has to go. So every 2 hours, I just take Mia to the bathroom. She has about 1-2 accidents a month.

But is Mia potty trained? Well, sort of. Yes, Mia uses the bathroom and she’s in underwear all day. Mia only wears pull-ups at night. No, Mia is not done potty training.
So has it been a success or a failure? Should I quit and start over (whatever that means…)? Have I made some horrible mistake? Should I hire an expert? How do I make this happen?

Mia pulled up on the furniture when she was one year old. About 2 months later she started cruising. But it took until she was a little more than 2 for her to start walking.

And we tried everything (just ask her physical therapist). We tried holding an iPad and trying to trick her into standing. We tried letting go of hands while walking. Her dad and I sat across from each other and had her walk between us. You name it, we tried it.

How did I make her walk?

And that’s the thing. I didn’t. I was literally sitting in the dining room one day, and Mia walked in with her walker. Then she stopped, turned around, and walked into the living room, leaving the walker behind. And that was that.

I can’t make Mia do anything. She has proven over and over that she will do it, but I have no control over how or when. I can encourage, I can cheer, and I can show her what to do. But Mia will do things when she is good and ready.

So how do I make Mia use the potty on her own? Well…I’m taking her to the potty and she’s going. I suspect that one day, she’ll decide she’s ready to do it on her own, and then that will be that.

But has this year been a success? I guess that depends on your definition.

See, for me it’s not about whether or not she’s done. So what if I have to remember to take her to the bathroom? The confidence she has gained from not being a “baby” anymore is palpable. Actually, she won’t even let me use up the last few diapers I have left for bedtime. She won’t wear them. She insists on stepping into the pull ups. It wasn’t just about the convenience of not having diapers. It was about what not having to wear diapers meant for her. That she’s big.

And now she’s going to kindergarten, and learning her letters and numbers. The fact that sight words were added to her IEP for next year. Reading. Mia is going to be reading.

It’s easy to feel frustrated when you are working toward one goal for a year and feeling like you’ll never get there. It’s easy to lose faith in the process.

And sometimes I do lose faith in the process, faith in my abilities, faith in whether or not I can handle raising her. I lose faith. I do. I feel frustrated and lost.

But Mia always reminds me not to lose faith in her.

Because guess what? It’s not about me.

So is Mia potty trained?

She’s working on it. And she’ll be done when she’s good and ready.

And for me? That’s success.

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