Mother Interrupted: Learning in a life of bunches and clumps
by Debra Carpenter
Oct 11, 2013 | 509 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One thing I've learned about life so far: Good things tend to come in bunches (bananas, grapes and Honey Bunches of Oats come to mind) and bad things tend to come in clumps (think litter boxes or Eddie Murphy's collection of characters from “The Nutty Professor.”)

I don’t know why life happens this way, or why I’m developing a philosophy about it. However, I am thrilled to say that this week good things are coming in bunches at my house, with no clumps in sight.

Good things, like Molly’s successful-yet-mysterious accident-free transition from diapers to “big girl undies” overnight.

I want to give you every detail surrounding this glorious potty mystery, but I feel a little strange discussing my daughter’s bathroom successes with such a large audience. Although, to be completely fair, she is known to sing and shout loudly about her bodily functions in public, large audience or not.

There isn’t much difference in that and what I’m doing here, so I don’t think she’ll mind much.

Our toilet-training timeline (that’s a lot of T’s) went something like this: Around age 2, we started introducing the potty to Molly. “Potty, this is Molly. Molly, Potty.” As it turned out, they didn’t really get along at first. Or at all ... for a year.

Then, when she turned 3, we (OK, I) started getting nervous that she would never use the toilet in her lifetime, which is a pretty good (though admittedly not realistic) reason to be nervous. I started feeling like a bad mother for not being able to potty-train my daughter as early as I’d wanted to.

Molly probably sensed my desperation every time I placed her on the potty and begged her to deposit something, anything into its beckoning porcelain bowl.

I tried dolls that appear to use the bathroom when you add water, a great method for tricking your kids into thinking dolls are living beings with working excretory systems, but not so great for potty training them.

I tried doing away with diapers altogether and presenting the toilet as the only option for relief, which worked wonderfully until she actually had to pee ... on the couch.

I tried making a potty chart (which says “Potty Like a Rockstar” — best chart ever) to put stickers on after success in the bathroom. While it was fun for me to make, it hung on the fridge for months without ever seeing a sticker. “Bad things come in clumps.”

We had all but given up on training Molly when she went to spend the night at her Grammy’s house recently. When we picked her up the next morning, she was wearing a pull-up and looking mighty grown up.

We brought her home and the “potty” didn’t stop there (pun intended). It’s been more than a week and she’s still accident-free! She must have been ready to ditch those diapers.

So, good things came in bunches at our house this week, bad things didn’t come in clumps, and we’re really thankful.

Even though I would love to, I can’t take any of the credit for Molly’s potty breakthrough. It was all her doing, and her potty-training success made me realize the truth about her capabilities: She is becoming independent and doesn’t need me as much as she used to. That hurts a little, but the whole “never have to buy or change diapers again” thing makes it sting less.


(Editor’s Note: Lebanon native Debra Carpenter is a novice mother, wife and college student. She writes about the parts of parenthood “... you didn’t expect when you were expecting.” Email her at and visit the website at