It can get a little messy.

Beckstrand siblings(Warning: this post contains potty humor.)

I love being a mom, but I have to admit that motherhood involves many unpleasantries (which according to my spell check, is not a word). Cleaning throw-up off the carpet, the car seat, my hair, and the mattress sits pretty high at the top of my list of grossness as does diaper changing, toilet cleaning, and booger wiping.

My list could go on, as I’m sure yours could too.

However, my two least favorite things about being a mom are potty training and driver’s training. It has been a continual debate with myself as to which one I dislike the most.

Potty training is the single biggest test of my patience as a mother. First of all, it’s hard to know when your toddler, who can’t cross the street by herself, is ready to use the toilet.

In the olden days (sorry, Mom), mothers used to potty train their children before they turned two because it was a lot easier than washing a dozen cloth diapers a day. Nowadays, potty training your child at the tender age of 23 months is inconceivable. Some of us just hope we can manage it by the time our kids enter kindergarten.

Potty training is difficult because it involves a lot of “accidents,” which is a polite term we professional mothers use for poop. These accidents happen with regularity until you figure out that if you feed your child enough Skittles, she will feel sufficiently motivated—either that or sufficiently plugged up.

On a particularly trying training day, one of my daughters sneaked into her room and pooped in her closet. Okay, I’m sorry, but if she is aware enough to find a private place to do her business, then she is certainly capable of making it to the toilet. This is where the test of patience comes in. In that instance, I did not pass the test with flying colors. I will admit to becoming a teensy bit angry at having to scoop poop off the closet floor.

With my boys, the challenge was a little different. I often carried the faint scent of urine with me when I went out in public. But please don’t get me started on boys and their bathroom habits. What girl would stand on the bathroom counter and try to hit the toilet from six feet up?

I always thought I would rather have a root canal than potty train one of my children. Well, I’ve potty-trained six children and have yet to experience a root canal.

Driver’s training is a completely different animal. Unlike potty training, the child in question wants to learn to drive. On the morning of my son’s fifteenth birthday, we were the first customers at the DMV to apply for a learner’s permit. But just because a child is eager to drive does not mean he is ready—or more importantly—that his mother is ready.

Even though driver’s training is not usually messy or stinky, it carries the added hazard that YOU COULD DIE. I do not do well under these working conditions. I find myself pressing on that imaginary brake on the passenger side of the car and holding the door handle with a death grip. I also can’t keep myself from yelling things like: “Stop, stop, stop!” or “Slow down, slow down, slow down!” or “Stop, stop, stop!” I usually hold my breath and occasionally close my eyes, which is a really stupid way to teach someone how to drive.

My husband is a much better driving instructor. He mostly remains calm and can form complete sentences while his teenage son careens down the highway at full speed. But, alas, my husband is usually at work when the kids need to go places, and I am left to mold these young teenagers into competent drivers. “Stop, stop, stop!” has worked pretty well over the years.

The worst part about driver’s training is when the child actually gets his license and he drives around town unsupervised. I lie awake at night wondering if he’s using two hands, applying the three-second rule, and remembering my most important piece of advice: “Stop, stop, stop!”

Thirteen years ago I successfully potty trained my last child–several months before kindergarten. It was a glorious day. Yesterday my youngest son got his driver’s license. I AM GRADUATED. I think I will buy myself a new dress and throw a party.

July 16, 2013  |  Family, Humor, Motherhood


  1. We are currently potty training Kami and I am finding that it is pretty frustrating and messy. We just did our first week and are slowly getting there. We still have 13 years before drivers training so I have a while to compare the two. :-). Great post Jennifer!

    • Thanks, Alexis. Good luck with Kami. Have you ever heard of that book “Potty Training in a Day”? Yeah, not so much.

  2. I think I remember the closet incident:) My worse driver’s training experience occurred when one of our son’s decided to see how fast the car could actually go while mom (the instructor) was on her cell phone. Good news. The ticket was issue to him although he only had a permit AND I happily dropped him off weeks later at the defensive driving course.

    • Yep. We lived in Dallas during the closet incident. I probably shared all the gory details with you. Daughters are definitely easier to teach how to drive. There is a reason teenage boys’ insurance rates are so high.

  3. I am infamous for the invisible brake routine! My husband likes to teach our kids on manual cars because then there is an emergency brake at the ready!

    • Shannon, does the emergency brake work when the car is in motion? That would have been good information. Too late now. :)

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