It's time for a Potty Party!
The summer Kai was three-and-a-half, I was rather desperate. By then, he’d been almost potty trained for a good part of a year. Which is to say, I was throwing away whole outfits—from shirt to socks—almost weekly thanks to his beyond-cleanable accidents. (If you’ve been around a boy this age, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, well, please know that I am not even exaggerating.)
One day, an image flashed in my mind — a kind of game board with ten squares plus another big one at the end. The big square was half-covered with a picture of an ecstatic Curious George holding a bouquet of balloons, and featured the words POTTY PARTY!!!
And so I got to work making that vision a reality.
By that evening, the game board image was stuck to our fridge with plastic alphabet magnets. “You see this, Kai?” I pointed to the eleventh square, “You make it to the bathroom ten times, and you’re gonna get a party to celebrate!” Kai looked at me, looked at the board, put his finger on George’s face, and then glanced back at me sternly. “You said party,” he grumbled. “Will there be cake?”
A little less than a month later, eight of us gathered at my neighbor’s house. Their kitchen table was festive: covered with kazoos, shiny paper plates, the now-sticker-covered game board from the fridge, and yes, a cake—with the proud inscription in blue cursive, “Happy Potty, Kai!!!”
I explained the occasion to the kids old enough to understand. Then we lit a candle and sang the birthday song with the lyrics swapped.
Today is my birthday. Last night, I genuinely wished I could reschedule it.
Not because I was afraid of turning one year older. But because I was feeling terrible about the state of my to-do list. And acknowledging the anniversary of coming into this world seemed like one more thing I had to do.
All week, I’ve been digging out crumpled documents from backpacks to sign, emailing parents to coordinate carpools, updating the family Google Calendar (because the curriculum night date changed for the third time), calling customer service to complain about delayed refunds, locating missing uniforms for picture day, and chasing kids down the alley half-dressed with their forgotten lunchboxes and fancy calculators.
Still, I’m getting second reminders about forms I haven’t filled out yet. Empty cardboard boxes from all the last minute Amazon orders have taken over the dining room, and dirty dishes are piled high. Dancing, healthy eating, and writing—all things not urgent but feed my soul—are getting neglected.
It’s been oh-so defeating.
Do you find it hard to celebrate just existing and “doing what you’re supposed to do anyway”?
Sometimes people ask if I thought Kai deserved a party for his achievement. I look at them like they’re nuts. But then again, I don’t ask friends to help me celebrate wiping my bottom the last ten times I went the bathroom—even metaphorically speaking.
Maybe it’s time I change that. Perhaps I need a Potty Party today.
Maybe instead of wishing to postpone celebrating until everything’s done, I celebrate the fact that I showed up the last ten days to face that list knowing full well it was growing faster than I could shrink it.
Will you join me by throwing your own Potty Party? Do something, even a tiny something like a play a happy tune, to celebrate the miracle that you exist and show up daily to the thankless task of doing what you’re supposed to do anyway?
Because you are a miracle. And I’m so glad that you’re here.
PS. I've shared this before, but here it is again, Stevie Wonder's tribute to his daughter.