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Next Life, NO Kids: June 2017

June 28, 2017

The Best Potty Training Advice You'll Probably Never Get

Lately I've been encountering a lot of questions about potty training. How can you get your little monster to sit on the toilet, be interested in using it, or lose interest in crapping their pants? 

It might appear that I have successfully potty trained three children. As of today, all three of my children use the toilet regularly, and only one of them still asks me to wipe his ass when he's done. 

*high-fives all around*

So, how did this happen? 

Obviously I must be some kind of a potty training expert at this point, right? Each of you should be lining up at my door to paint my fence, wash my car, and trap flies between sticks for the opportunity to soak in all the wisdom I must have in this department. So many of you have asked, that I've decided to bestow upon you my fail-proof secrets to mastering the train of pottying.

I hope you're ready for this...


Just don't.

That's right. You read that correctly. 

Yup, you're on the right page. You didn't click the wrong thing. 

The secret to potty training a child who isn't ready to be trained is: 

Know and respect your limits.

Perhaps you're wondering, as you've tried literally every potty training trick in the book - repeatedly - and it hasn't worked, how the exact opposite might be the actual solution.

How could not pushing possibly be the answer to getting a toddler or preschooler to do something they don't want to do?? Because everyone knows if you push a toddler/preschooler hard enough to do something, eventually they'll just submit. 

BWAHAHAHA!! Just kidding. 

My daughter basically "trained" herself. She woke up one day and decided she was done with diapers. I won't say it was "easy," but I will say it wasn't hard. 

My sons were an entirely different story. I honestly worried I might someday have to send my oldest to college with a pack of adult diapers. No seriously, this was a legit fear that consumed my thoughts. So, I talked to one of my veteran mom friends, and I confided in her that my son was nearly four and didn't seem ready. 

It was during that conversation that I realized how much of this potty training thing I was making about me, instead of focusing on the actual fact that my son was telling me - every chance he could - that he wasn't ready. 

I was worried his lack of readiness would reflect poorly on me somehow; that I would be judged for not working hard enough at it. Who wants to be that parent in playgroup after Sally announces she potty trained her baby in the womb?


When did this milestone become all about when we think they should be ready, and discounting their right to take their own time?  

I took the permission a good friend offered, and I gave up. I stopped harassing my little boy every time it looked like he might have to go and attempting to bribe him with M&Ms and toys if only he would do it my way. I gave my son the space to hit rock bottom, and allowed him the opportunity to make the decision for himself that crapping his pants wasn't awesome. 

Here are some tips (based on what I found helpful) to help you get through this. 

Yes, you will get through this. 

1. Stop killing yourself slowly trying to change something you literally cannot change. 

Toddlers and preschoolers live to torture us. The more energy you exhaust trying to get your kid on the pot, the more energy you're exhausting needlessly. Energy is important, because those kids are like spider-monkeys. Conserve yours, and chill. Having a kid in diapers, compared to actual real problems, isn't the worst thing in the world. It's all going to be okay.

2. Change what you can (diapers), but take every opportunity to tap into your child's possible motivation for change, and then capitalize on that shit (literally).

Is diaper changing during play time an inconvenience for your kiddo? GREAT! Take the opportunity to point out that bathroom breaks don't have to take as long as diaper changes. Are diapers getting in the way of their favorite dress fitting? Make sure to point out that once they start wearing underwear, that dress might fit perfectly again!

3. Allow your child to experience natural consequences.

Natural consequences are a part of life that we all get to experience. Diapers aren't necessarily fun for anyone, but they are the "norm" and the only thing our kids know. Nobody likes change when it comes to the unknown, and natural consequences can often promote the motivation necessary to take the leap. 

4. Start a support/play group.

Host a Saturday morning group (so working parents can also attend), and use it to connect with other parents and bitch about how awful and inconvenient it can feel to have a kid in diapers. Maybe give away something fun every week for the worst/best horror diaper blowout or accident story. This might even motivate you to enjoy the process, as it will allow for laughable moments and less stress and associated shame. 

Make it fun, FFS. It's not like your kids will actually go to college in diapers...probably. And even if they do, they make adult diapers, and your child will have to carry whatever shame is involved from that point on. 

5. Make time for YOU.

Whether it's a night out with friends or a monthly massage package, do it! If you don't have any friends who will join you in lamenting about first world problems without making you feel like a dick, get some new friends -- maybe via your new support group! Parenting is hard, yo, and we all need a posse of understanding adults to bitch, moan, and ugly cry/laugh with.  

6. Stop letting someone else's shit stress you out.

Do I really need to explain this one?

7. Understand, even if your kid goes to college in diapers, you are an incredible parent.

Your incredibleness is not contingent on potty training failures or successes. No matter what age your little is when they're ready to go, it will not be a reflection of how much you rock parenting or life. You are and will continue to be one of the greatest parents your child has ever had. 

8. Enjoy the journey.

You will not love every second, and I will never suggest you seize all the moments, but enjoying the journey is important. At some point, before you know it, your little won't be little anymore, and you'll long for the day they needed you at all. I know it's hard to envision this, elbows deep in poo, but I promise you when the dust settles, you might even completely black this part out and convince yourself it was lovely.

9. No game, No shame.

Once I let myself and my kids off of the imaginary hook, I also let go of the unnecessary bullshit guilt. I stopped pretending embarrassment is ever a helpful parenting or negotiation tool, and it freed me up to support their actual process. Potty training is not a game to win, and sometimes it can be a really scary transition.

10. Congratulate the Sallys, and move on with real life.

In real life it doesn't matter how old anyone is when they decide to use the toilet. At no point will it ever go on a resume, and outside of the ridiculous sport of competitive parenting, it's a non-issue. 

For the record, five weeks after I gave up and allowed my son his own process, he decided he was ready. 

He has never had an accident -- not even once. 

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June 13, 2017

Grace Changes Everything

I drink more than I want to, more often than I’d like to, against my better judgment, to forget the pain I cause myself and others when I drink. 

It's a complicated cycle, but also really simple.
I love drinking, too much. I just don’t love drinking too much.

At some point in my short, but glorious drinking career, I crossed some invisible line and could no longer, with any certainty, predict what might happen when I drank. It wasn’t always terrible, but when it was, it was really terrible

I have said and done absurd and sometimes hateful and perilous things while intoxicated. I have hurt people -- people I love --repeatedly.

Regardless of all the harm I knew I was causing, I never stopped loving alcohol. I continued to chase the illusion of "okay," even after I had (with my own bare hands) smashed it to pieces. It wasn’t a lack of awareness regarding the risk or trouble my drinking was causing that kept me drinking longer than I wanted to. It was because of it. I felt powerless over the pain and destruction, and I believed alcohol was providing me the only outlet for relief under those circumstances.

I didn't know I could change my life or feelings, because I was stuck in a vicious cycle-like vacuum. When I did experience sobriety, however briefly, the voices in my head got louder and the feelings I was exhausting so much energy to protect myself from fell out

I didn't know what to do with any of it. My only saving grace was the ability to scoop it all up and shovel it back down, in hopes of one more day of "okay." 

Because that's what it's like to live with trauma. 

Because I heard, "pain is mandatory, but suffering is optional,"and thought maybe I could avoid it entirely.

I'd get together with friends to have a few, relax, unwind (or forget) and some nights it would work. Other nights would start exactly the same way, but at some point I would find myself crying or fighting or running from some inevitable drama or chaos. The more of these nights I experienced, the worse my life and relationships got, and the more I needed a drink to feel "okay."

Addiction doesn't make sense to those who haven't personally experienced it, but also to some of us who have. It's not a logical thing. If you had asked me why I was drinking - even after whatever had happened while I was drinking - I wouldn't have been able to tell you; because I didn't know.

I just couldn't handle sobriety for long periods of time without a nagging urge for relief

Every day started to feel like survival -- like it was all just too much. I was so hyper-focused on the waves crashing over me, I couldn't see that I was swimming right into them. All I knew was that everything was really fucking hard -- all the fucking time

Survivors of trauma carry very special tool kits. It has taken much willingness and self-searching, hours of trauma focused therapy, and a shit-ton of pain and discomfort to slowly work my way through the tools in my survival kit. It has taken time, patience, and support from other people to weed through and determine which tools from my past are helpful and which no longer serve me.

For years after getting sober, I sought relief in unhealthy people, places, and things. It took a lot of mandatory pain to motivate my willingness to surrender and change some of my old ideas. My experience proves it is 100% possible to struggle in recovery.

Recovery doesn't have magical powers to make everything better. It is not a simple process, a book you can read, or class you can take. It does not have an end point or graduation day. It has various layers, levels, and degrees, and it comes in many shapes and sizes. It is not a cure-all, and just because someone is recovering from one thing, doesn't mean they're not suffering with fifty-five other things. 

Life is tricky. Apparently that's its job or something. Very few truly important things are ever easy, or as black and white as we'd like them to be. 

It took me years to even toy with the idea that I might be worthy of forgiveness and allow compassion to flow through me for the lost woman I was back then. It took me many more years to fully concede that I have always done the best I could with what I had.

Recovery has provided me with the tools necessary to combat the noise that once consumed my mind and convinced me alcohol was the solution to my problems. I have (more often than not) used these tools to handle situations in life that used to baffle me. 

I have those tools, and found recovery, because someone who understood my pain sat with me in it, and offered me grace.

a. temporary reprieve from feeling like the worst person in the entire universe long enough to realize I'm not, and forgive myself.* 
 *Altered and totally appropriate definition courtesy of Julie Maida. You're welcome 😊 

Other people pretending to know more about or judging my addiction and/or survival skills has never help me. I didn’t need anyone's assistance feeling guilty for not being ready to process my past and live up to Society’s expectations of who, what, and where I was "supposed" to be. I needed help learning how to respect and love myself so that my choices could match up with my own expectations.

Supporting someone with an addiction is never easy, especially when they won't just do what we want them to. Everyone deserves the space to find their path in their own way. 

Everyone deserves grace.

Sometimes all we can do for someone who is struggling is just sit still with them until they are ready to take whatever actions are necessary to change their situation. We don't have to push. We don't get to judge, and if we truly wish to help them, we can offer them grace. 

Because grace changes everything. 

Tweet: #recovery doesn't cure humanness. #grace can change everything. http://bit.ly/2s7zlF0 #addiction #trauma via @nextlifenokids

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June 04, 2017

10 Things That Do Not Belong In Your Vagina

This week I was urged by a doctor not to put a wasp nest in my vagina. 

Yes, that's right -- my vagina. Uh huh, a wasp nest. Confused?

Walk with me...

According to the New York Post:

"Some online retailers have been selling oak galls, which are nests that house wasp eggs before they hatch, and touting them as a natural way of cleaning female genitals.
The product reportedly is crushed into a paste and applied topically, with one listing on Etsy, which has now been removed, claiming it can improve a woman’s sex life.
They are also being advertised as helping to “heal episiotomy cuts, rejuvenate the uterine wall and clean out the vagina” after childbirth, though there are warnings that it can “burn” when applied."

If your jaw just dropped, I'll allow you a few seconds to pick it up off the floor. 

Okay, I find myself both shocked and completely awed by the existence of the need for such articles and PSAs, but let's be honest about the real problem here...

Somewhere in this crazy world, women 
are putting wasp nests up in their vaheyheys. 

I'll be the first to admit, and have previously written about, the fact that childbirth and pretty vaginas are not always besties. I've had three kids, and while I'm not parking cars up in here, kegels have certainly become a close frenemy, because who enjoys a good pee every time they sneeze?? Nobody.

Alas, kegels are work and basically exercise, and we live in an age of GIVE IT TO ME RIGHT NOW!!! However, I'm still baffled (and also a tad bit intrigued) by women so brave in their commitment to achieving some kind of immediate and miraculous vaginal rejuvenation, they might consider applying "wasp [anything]" to this most sensitive area.

Now, I'm no doctor, so I don't expect you to take any kind of medical advice from me. Luckily, Dr. Jen Gunter is one, and I'll just let her lead with this.

Next Life NO Kids - 10 Things That Do Not Belong In Your Vagina #waspnests
Amazing. Seems so simple, right? Clearly, it's anything but.

Ladies, I can't help but feel somewhat personally responsible for this in some way. As a writer of all things, I feel if I had only known sooner this could potentially become an issue, I could have helped. 

Now that I fully understand the incredible lengths women will go to in order to avoid a loose fit - boyfriend jeans vagina, I feel better positioned to put out my own little PSA...because I love you, and your gloriously perfect vaginas.

I feel pretty confident, based on the above wise words of Dr. Jen, that the following list could be used as a helpful tool, to guide women who might be unsure, what exactly doesn't belong, per-se, inside the 'ol cooter canal (even if the burning or swelling produced might result in a smaller entry way).

1. Wasp nests -- Yes, even if they're crushed into a paste

2. Battery acid  

3. A swarm of angry bees

4. Red ants 

5. Sewing machines, needles and thread

6. Super glue

7. Staples -- Yes, even if you sanitize them first

8. Rubber (or any other kind of) cement

9. Thumb tacks and/or safety pins

10. Liquid nail

UPDATE *Please note there are way more than 10 things that don't belong in your vag, but I have a life to live here. If you have a question about whether or not something belongs on this list, please ask someone you trust.* 😉

I'm sorry it took me so long to write and publish this list, but as stated above, I greatly underestimated and perhaps undervalued the need and/or desire for a slender vagina. 

Also, I want you to know that you are perfect, just the way you are. 

If your body has changed due to creating, growing, and/or birthing a human being or even just as the result of repeated, incredible sex, it is my hope that you might revel more in the beauty of all that, than your sluggish vagina and instead honor it as a beautiful part of you that allows for such fantastical things. 

No matter what stage you find yourself in this life, let me assure you this:

You, and your vagina, deserve so much better 
than the burn (or sting) of a wasp nest. 

God speed.

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