An epic gender battle is raging in households everywhere. Yes, marital health is being diseased by an oval, 2 foot object—the toilet lid. My husband and I have only had one serious discussion about this topic due to his impeccable raising and my patient understanding. Said conversation occurred after a pregnant 3:00 am potty break unexpectedly turned into a night swim and a full 30 seconds stuck like a flipped turtle, followed by a shower. Sadly, I have it on good authority that I am not the only woman who has fallen into a toilet during the middle of the night due to an upright lid. No, in our household the toilet lid epic battle is 95% an internal struggle. The other 5 % is against the curiosity of a 1 year old.
Sadly, we aren’t even in the world of potty training yet, but the bathroom is already on my son’s Most Fascinating Destinations list. We don’t have the childproof locks for the toilet yet because
A) If the lid is closed he still doesn’t/can’t flip the lid open
B) I would need an intensive training course in operating those buggers, at the risk of being the second household member that wets their pants.
Up. Down. Up. Down. Crash. Splash. Wipe. Bleach. Up. Down. UP. Splash. The lid has more daily ups and downs that a 13 year old girl the week of the Winter Formal.
Today’s mail contained a magazine for Mothers Of Preschoolers, which this year is entitled Momsense. It’s truly outstanding. As I looked at the cover with my son on my hip, I realized that unbeknownst to me, my son’s photo had been used on the cover! Someone had come into my home with a camera and snapped a shot of my kiddo while I wasn’t looking. The intruder didn’t even have the decency to take my kid out of the toilet. No doubt she looked on from an outside window and I played with him and kissed his feet shortly after.
Pictured here, my son’s twin is about to dip his toe into the waters of life. Honestly, my son doesn’t find an open lid often and has yet to drop an item in. Usually things just dangle in and get a little splash, or he smacks the water. Soaking one’s chest with toilet water is not my preferred method of requesting a new outfit. He has also learned that upon discovery, he should look at me wide-eyed and say, “Nonono!”, reach out his hands, and prepare for a good hand-washing.
It seems that right now this is MY potty-training. Keeping lids down, tightly shutting doors, and keeping soap well stocked. A mother can never be on her guard 24/7, although it often seems we must maintain such vigilance. The second we are attending to one child or turn to check a text, another child will run out into traffic half naked and peeing, wielding a sign that says, “I am an abused, unloved child! Please, save me and put my mother onto a talk show to make her pay for what she’s done!”
This week as I cleaned off the high-chair tray, my son ran down the hall, opened the door, and discovered my negligence in lid-closing. Soon I heard a familiar splash. On top of it all, I had just finished mopping. As I rushed in to begin a dreaded toy-extraction operation, I saw what was in his plump little hand. The correct end of the toilet brush was in his hand and the bristles were busy scraping the sides. He was cleaning the toilet bowl. I was stunned for a moment; I’ve not yet seen a man do this in my home.
I am fully aware this is a model of both wonderful and terrible mothering. On one hand, I am clearly modeling this cleaning behavior, which indicates I neglect my son and most likely have an overly shallow OCD personality (according to Parenting magazine and the expert book writers). On the other hand, it shows I am dedicated to creating a clean, healthy learning and living environment for my family in a true model of Christian mothering perfection. (Eye roll. The Proverbs 31 woman’s scarlet garments weren’t bleach-stained and she paid servant girls. Still waiting on life application for that one, thank you very much.)
This instance of watching my 1 year old help me clean the potty is filed under “I’m not mad, I’m just impressed!” Of course, I quickly caused crying and commenced the usual sanitizing ritual, but not before smiling and giving myself a pat on the back. Granted, my belt or his foot may end up in the toilet next week, but for a brief shining moment I looked in and saw something amazing. This was a spectacular graduation from a few months ago when he swept up his spilled Cheerios with a push-broom…before using it as a spear to impale the couch cushions.
I am a mom. Not a bad mom or a good mom; just a mom. I forget to close doors. I don’t wrestle my son to the ground to read him books daily. I leave diaper bags at play-dates. I use pizza crusts as teethers. I also pray diligently over my son, take him outside to play or stroll every day, attempt to feed him extra vegetables, and chase him on my hands and knees around the living room despite my rounding silhouette because it’s his favorite play activity. I also apparently teach him good cleaning habits. Hopefully one day I will look at my future daughter in law and say, “He is fully trained to help around the house. His first time cleaning the toilet was at 14 months old and he’s been sweeping the kitchen since 9 months.” Yesterday he also tried to load the dryer, although it was with the dirty clothes that were about to enter the washer. The baby steps are still in the right direction.
For now I will pretend that I am modeling excellent behavior and ignore that he enjoys unraveling toilet paper and using empty rolls as a tiny swords. After all, he’s a boy…but he’s my boy. Love may be a battlefield, but the bathroom is a warzone. Our battles will change as we go from my potty training to his potty training, but hopefully we can all learn to put a lid on it. Added ironic bonus: My husband finally has a good excuse to remind me to put the lid down.