An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Having given birth to a force of nature

This morning I was lucky enough to wake up to this refreshing email from a lovely woman named Catherine:

Leta’s room looks like a room that was cleaned and organized after a child had died. It is the saddest, most boring and depressing children’s room I have ever seen.

Btw, when you showed the pics of your house on a previous post, I had thought the same thing.
Your house is so sterile and boring. Browse catalogs much? Every hear of having your own style?

I have 2 kids (boys – [name withheld] 2yrs and [name withheld] 5 months), not that you care, and believe me
I am a cleaning fanatic, like you. I am very concerned about germs, bacteria, etc. But you are out of control sterile. It is shocking.

One more thing, my son is 2 yrs old and potty trained. Potty training is probably the easiest thing to do.
Why are you waiting so long to train Leta? You work at home don’t you?

I go to work every day and he is trained on the potty.

Such a thoughtful letter, full of very useful suggestions, ones I am right this minute taking very seriously. This is also a welcome reminder of how other mothers are not the most judgmental people on Earth. Her compassion is enveloping me like a hot rotten vegetable fart.

Many other concerned women have written to inquire why the hell I have not yet taught Leta how to use the toilet, and I’m not sure I have ever been asked a question that has so many possible answers. Is it that I’m lazy? I don’t know, maybe I’ll have Jon answer that one since I’m busy over here growing hair.

Maybe I like changing diapers. Did you ever think of that? How could that be any worse of a preference than liking licorice? Or choosing to wear gnome shoes? Maybe changing diapers keeps me young and nimble. Maybe it’s the one thing in this world that I am the best at, and who doesn’t need that one thing? I could do it blind-folded with my hands tied behind my back while dangling upside down from a rope tied to a helicopter, I am that good. I dazzle.

But if you want me to be totally honest, and this is from the perspective of someone who lives in the same house as my daughter, of someone who has dressed her and fed her and tucked her into bed for the last three years, I’m thinking that the reason she isn’t yet potty trained is because she isn’t ready. And this is not just a hunch. This is something very real, something we live with every day.

Leta has suffered severe constipation for the last two years of her life, and we have seen her pediatrician repeatedly over this problem. A little over a year ago he gave her a prescription for a mild children’s laxative that we have been adding to her water ever since. And it worked like magic for several months, worked so well that we thought we had solved the problem. And then, well, then she suddenly decided that she did not ever want to go number two again, just like that, like someone might decide one morning to stop eating chocolate because it just wasn’t worth it anymore. And so she started holding it for days and days and days, long enough that she started to get sick, started to lie on the ground and moan because she was in so much pain.

But no matter what we said to her, no matter the coaxing or the clever bargaining, we could not talk her into going to the bathroom. She wouldn’t have it, would turn her head and pretend that we didn’t even exist. The more we tried to convince her that she needed to poop, the more she resisted. And so for several weeks the only way we could get her to go was by giving her an enema. And it was horrible. Unimaginable. May you never have to do that to your child.

But we didn’t have any other choice. Her will was stronger than the laxative. That doesn’t seem possible, right? A child cannot possibly be so stubborn that she could, through the power of her will alone, immobilize her internal organs. World? Meet Leta Armstrong.

And then.


Jon and I left Leta with my mother when we traveled to New York last December, and we explained to her all of the ongoing problems. And as we had expected, my mother had to give Leta an enema while we were gone because at that point she had been holding it for over seven days. And I have tried to piece all of this together because I’m still trying to figure out how it all happened, but I think Leta pooped while she was sleeping one night and slept it in for several hours. Later the following morning her urine started to smell very weird, like a toxic, nuclear cloud, and the next day when we returned home she was screaming like I have never heard her scream before.

I knew immediately what was going on. Leta had a urinary tract infection, which, for those of you who are not familiar, makes it feel like you’re peeing fire every time you have to go. I could see the fear in her eyes. So we rushed her to her doctor, and because he wanted to rule out the possibility that she might have diabetes, we had to collect a urine sample from her, which can be rather difficult to do when the patient is still in diapers. And so what followed was one of the worst ten minute periods of my life, certainly the worst of Leta’s life.

Because the facility was short on staff that morning, I had to hold down Leta’s arms while Jon braced her legs so that the nurse could insert a catheter. And Leta, a child who is not normally very physical, someone who would much rather lounge on the bed and read books than throw a ball through a window, Leta fought us as if we were trying to kill her. We could barely keep her from throwing herself off that table. She struggled to make us stop until she was soaking in sweat and tears.

Within a few hours of her first dose of antibiotics she was acting like a happy child again, but now, even five weeks later, now she is afraid to pee. And so she holds it, and holds it, and holds it because she is afraid that it will hurt. Now she is afraid to go to the bathroom at all, and watching her battle her body every day is nothing short of maddening. Now the only time she will use the bathroom is when she is asleep, when she doesn’t know that it’s happening. And I have no idea what to do, which isn’t new for me, but is nonetheless exasperating.

If we can get her to go to the bathroom in her diaper these days we consider our efforts successful. The potty, right now, will have to wait.

Comments? I could use some encouragement.

  • kimmie

    bless your heart! and her butt hee hee

    I had this problem (constipation) with son. Pediatrician scared the poop out of me with horror stories of him forgetting how to poop (he was 4 or 5 I think). We cut out ALL milk. Switched him to soy. Within 2 weeks he was fine. When he gets a little firm now (he is almost 7) we switch back to soy for a bit. Same with daughter who just turned 4.

    As for WHEN to potty train? With son he trained promptly WHEN HE WAS READY! He was a touch over three when he decided to pee pee in the potty. When I said he couldn’t go to 3year old mothers day out until he could poop in the potty – he promptly pooped in the potty the next day at age 3y5m. Daugher potty trained less easily. Son never had an accident (hate accidents) but daughter had them often. She “trained” at about 3y6m with some accidents up till almost 4.

    And yes, I know lots of women who work full time outside the home (I own my own engineering firm but can work from home sometimes so I was able to forego fulltime daycare). All of these women have children who PT by the age of 2. You know why? Because the kids can NOT go to the next age room (non-baby room) until they are trained. The caregivers at the daycare do the training. Those moms who are honest will say just that. That THEY didn’t train their kids, the daytime caregivers did. Plus the threat of staying in the babyroom when their friends are moving up.


  • PK

    Oh, honey. That sucks.

    I will tell you that my niece had similar issues with the not wanting to poop, and the psychic ability to make it happen (or not, to be more accurate). They also used the lovely laxative to mixed effect, dealt with the urinary infections. Their daughter is now 7, and is just. fine. She pees, she poops, she’s *fine*. As Leta will be, after some time. It’ll be okay.

  • Britta

    My step-daughter had to have x-rays done when she was three. None of us realized how much it traumatized her until, later that year, she had a melt-down when we had her pictures taken at Sears. Turns out the professional camera looked a lot like the x-ray machine. It took awhile but she managed to see that it wasn’t the “picture machine” that was hurting her. The thing is, she had to work it out on her own – no amount of parents telling her it was okay helped.

    Leta will be okay. She will not be harmed by wearing diapers at her age but she might be if it is forced on her. Here’s hoping there is poop in her future – and lots of it!

    P.S. I loved the pictures of your house – I think it’s beautiful and full of personality.

  • JenBlake

    Dooce- sorry to hear about all your trouble with sweet Leta! If it makes you feel any better we just started serious potty training with my son, who was 3 on December 5th. So far he has pooped in the potty 1 time and ON THE LID of the potty 1 time- progress is slow but will happen. The pediatrician said not to push it until he was ready- not to really even try until he was 3. So, even if I send him off to the senior prom wearing depends under his tux, at least I will know that I had sound medical advice behind me. Hang in there- this too shall pass… (sorry for the pun.)

  • Gracellent

    I bet you don’t read down here 🙁 But since I love the clacking of my keyboard I’ll continue. Heather, every time you post pictures of your house, I get excited because I’m all, “When I grow up, I want my house to look like THAT!” I even showed my mom your kitchen remodeling project because I wanted us to try something similar (um, we don’t have the initiative).

    ALSO. When I was around 3 or 4, I was too scared to pee and drove my mother to hysterics. I’m fine now, the climax of the situation occuring when I peed all over the doctor’s examining table. And now, I’m actually kind of better at holding it than other people, which is a great source of pride for me. I have faith that Leta will overcome this. I’mma pray that it happens sooner than later. But she will get better.

  • I can’t imagine what genetic abnormality women are given that makes us feel the urgent need to criticise at least one other woman that we’ve never actually met in our entire lives for their parenting skills, clothes, husband choice, home decor, shoes, hair, or career choice… and in this case simply based on the familiarity that reading a person’s blog over and over again apparently gives.

    I can’t imagine getting that worked up about a blog entry that you’d have to snap that way – unless, of course, it contains one of those scrolling cursors that automatically download themselves. I can’t be blamed for my actions with those.

    I think – apparently along with the general consensus – that waiting it out is the right idea. You don’t want her to be scared of this, and therefore it’s not something you can force. I think it’s pretty admirable that you haven’t ripped your hair out thus far, as I remember the potty training age as being fairly trying, without layering constipation and anxiety on top of it.

    The way I figure it, she’ll decide that it’s safe along the way, as long as it’s not pushed at her and she has nothing to angrily defend against.

    A mini-story to make you feel better. Or, at least, entertain you.
    A friend of mine, Amy, has a son we’ll call Brady. Both of them are very anal retentive and stubborn.
    When it came time to potty train Brady, he threw such a stubborn fit that Amy relented and continued to buy diapers.
    Different attempts at potty training produced mixed results, as Brady knew what to do… he simply had no interest whatsoever in doing it.
    At her wit’s end, Amy told Brady she simply wasn’t changing him anymore.
    So, from that day on, and until he was old enough to spend the night with friends (around 6), she’d buy the diapers and he’d change himself.
    It was a sight to watch – and you had to watch, because it was a battle of wills and both were determined to win… sort of a parental form of Survivor.
    But Brady would grab the diaper, wipes, and proceed to turn this way and that to make sure he was clean… before fastening the diaper and going about his merry way.

    He eventually made up his mind and decided this potty training thing was okay, and Leta will too.
    Best of luck.

  • HalfwayCrucified

    Our little boy is a tad older than Leta, and though he’s willing to go ‘tinky winky’ in the toilet now, he’s not yet ready to take a pooper on the potty. But this is the norm for him: There was a time I thought he’d never eat solid food and we wondered if he’d ever give up crawling for walking. Like those developmental milestones, he’ll start doing the poopers when he’s good and ready.

    During our little boy’s development, two of my in-laws (ironically, the two who’ve never had children of their own) have expressed unjustified concern on various occasions. Once they even went so far as to whip my mother-in-law into a frenzy that resulted in a $245.00 trip to a neurosurgeon. The visit lasted less than five minutes, just long enough for the doctor to scold my wife for bringing our perfectly developed and perfectly healthy boy into his office and wasting his time.

    The bottom line is this: You are Leta’s mother. That fact alone makes you more of an expert on her care and upbringing than anyone else in the world. Period. You’re doing as well as any parent can expect to do, and you’re handling those curve balls that are a natural part of parenthood with aplomb.

    Leta’s room and the rest of your home looks fabulous.

    [By the way, Catherine, how does it feel to have your ass whipped seven hundred and seventy one. . .er. . .two times?]

  • Susan

    It’s so refreshing to know that there are some people out there, like Catherine, who can totally figure and judge someone else’s life by reading a few blog entries and by looking at a few pictures. I thought the rule was that you had to walk in their shoes, but her way is soooo much easier! Don’t worry about a thing. You and Jon are wonderful parents, and Leta will pee on the toilet when she damn well wants to. our daughter is 2 months younger than Leta and is also nowhere near potty-trained. You don’t push that kind of thing unless your child is of the canine variety – and we can’t even get our dog to go where she’s supposed to.

  • cooler*doula

    Qu’est-ce que le fuck?!? As we say in Casa Z.

    What is wrong with people? With mothers? Christ, I *am* one myself and deeply resent idiots like this who are so damned mean spirited and randomly critical.

  • LizzieO

    Hi. My 15 month old son is a fellow non-pooper. After a couple of nasty constipation episodes, he’s also sealed the exit and, like your baby girl, his nappy dumplings are only released under the cover of darkness. I’m pumping lactulose into him in the hope I can grease his bowels to the point it shoots out unnoticed. I live in hope.

    I understand the utter frustration and anxiety of watching your child essentially harm themselves and the overwhelming feeling of powerlessness to fix the problem. I’ve received lots of well intended advice about diet, medicines and poop inducing techniques but I know that it’s a behavioural problem and if all my expert advisors had seen the terrible pain he was in they’d better understand why he’s trying to save himself from going through that again.

    I recently wrote myself about the sad fact that our harshest critics as mothers comes from other mothers.

    The pressure to maintain the illusion that everything is fluffy and wonderful all the time is eased by women like you who are willing to say it how it is and tolerate the criticism of the ignorant.

    I hope your little girl feels much better soon. x

  • Look at all these amazing comments of support. We are all your greatest fans. We love what you do for us. I’m so happy to see so many words of encouragement. Have a great weekend Heather.

  • Hi. My 15 month old son is a fellow non-pooper. After a couple of nasty constipation episodes, he’s also sealed the exit and, like your baby girl, his nappy dumplings are only released under the cover of darkness. I’m pumping lactulose into him in the hope I can grease his bowels to the point it shoots out unnoticed. I live in hope.

    I understand the utter frustration and anxiety of watching your child essentially harm themselves and the overwhelming feeling of powerlessness to fix the problem. I’ve received lots of well intended advice about diet, medicines and poop inducing techniques but I know that it’s a behavioural problem and if all my expert advisors had seen the terrible pain he was in they’d better understand why he’s trying to save himself from going through that again.

    I recently wrote myself about the sad fact that our harshest critics as mothers comes from other mothers.

    The pressure to maintain the illusion that everything is fluffy and wonderful all the time is eased by women like you who are willing to say it how it is and tolerate the criticism of the ignorant.

    I hope your little girl feels much better soon. x

  • hibiscusfire

    i read your site often. you write well, you’re funny, you have amazing insight. mostly though, i am amazed by what a loving and supportive family you and jon have created. you two are incredible parents, and it is a relief and inspiration to see.

    you put a lot into this blog, that is obvious, but i’m not sure if you’ll ever get to see the far-reaching effect that sharing yourself and your family with your readers has had. you have built a community of supporters and fans out there, but they are only giving to you because they want to give back for all that you have given them.

    as it’s been said more than 700 times, hang in there. children are constantly changing and unpredicatable. sometimes, if they are especially insightful or intelligent, just growing up and becoming more and more self-aware can be overwhelming for them. as you provide leta with the love and stability she needs to have to feel safe to grow…she will.

  • JulieMackAttack

    man. i honestly try never to give mothers advice and think that it is a good rule of thumb. for everyone. parenting is a sensitive subject when the advice-giving begins. especially unsolicited advice. oh the internet battles waged over unsolicited parenting advice.

    with that said, i am not a parent but i spent quite a few years nannying and potty training children. so. the only way i could get my charge to use the toilet was to bribe her. we made a little chart on the fridge and everytime she used the potty, she got a star. 5 stars, she got to pick something from the prize bucket (dollar store items, and candy). if she pooped in the toilet, she immediately got to pick from the prize bucket.

    i don’t think this will help Leta get over her fears at all but it might become of use later on. maybe. who knows.

    best of luck & happy thoughts.
    (fuck that lady, btw)

  • I am not a mom, so I have no ideas from that viewpoint — but I was a kid like Leta; I could stifle a poop for days and days, to the point that my poor little mommy marked the calendar every time I finally did give in and go. I have no clue how I ever got past it.

    Don’t let anybody else try to tell you you’re doing the wrong things; they don’t know your kid!

    BTW, I’ve always envied those people who could clean their house up ’til it looked like the photos in catalogs. I’d almost bet that e-mail came from someone who’s knee-deep in their own filth and just looking for a way to feel better about it.

  • Gary Ray

    Heather, you are a most caring loving mother and a very wonderful wife. Your family is the luckiest of this world to have you. My wife and I have four children and they have grown up to be upstanding responsible adults and teenagers and still, to my knowledge, are not yet potty trained. We’re very mellow parents as well; my wife says when they’re ready, they’ll use toilets on their own, don’t force it. Have a wonderful 2007. Your caustic candor in the anecdotal chronicling of your daily life is refreshing; you are the Irma Bombeck for the new millennium. Please continue!!! You write like an angel…

  • oh I am so sorry, Heather. Here is what I have to say about that:

    1. That other lady? The one whose comment you pasted into your entry? She eats poop, and her room is a dooky den. Those of us who do not suck think that your clean, beautiful house is cozy and lovely.

    2. I am positive that Leta will start using the potty sometime before prom night, regardless of what you do. Diapers clash with everything.

    3. I had to help my sister hold down my 7 year old nephew (Brain tumor, 4 months into treatment) while he screamed and fought us with everything he had left, and the doctor taped his arm down to a board so they could start IV number 100,57 in his skinny arm. It was the second worst moment of my entire life. It would feel better and more natural to cut my own arm off with a saw, than to fight the child I love more than anything, while someone else hurts them for their own good.

    Anyway, I support you.
    And my nephew is 11 now, and fine.

  • sovery

    it’s such a bummer you are subject to criticism from such wankers. if only some genius could create a mail filter which would prevent the self-righteous from executing the send command.


    you are leta’s mom, you know her best, and you will know when she is ready for the next step. i think she has demonstrated that she does things in her own time and her own way.

    it will work out.

    hugs to all of you.

  • eigga49

    Oh that horrible woman. My little one, who is one day older that your Leta, went through the same thing. We’re still on the laxatives in her drink twice a day at nearly double the normal dose..because god help us, the horrible screaming of trying to poop a rock. It’s horrible.
    Her brother (almost 2 years older) was two months shy of 4 before he finally got what going on the potty meant. He was just not interested and just not getting it. Then, one day, it all clicked and he started asking to go.
    To those who believe in the whole schedule thing, they’re scheduling themselves, not their kids and the kids never learn what the signs are to get to the potty.
    We always said, as long as he’s not in diapers when he goes to college, we’re okay! Good luck!

  • anne_marie_oregon

    In 1945, a young girl named katu lata kulu came over to America in a grey boat. A mysterious man killed her by cutting the word “LATUALATUKA” into her back. now that you have read this message she will come to your house on a full moon and steal your soul unless you follow these directions:
    1 Retype this message as a comment for three other blogs.


  • erksh

    Has anyone in the 700 + comments suggested that Leta’s sensory issues (what with the weight-bearing and all) may be part of the issue?

    My sensory-challenged 4.5 year old potty trained. Yep, sure did. At four. Fuck you, Catherine. Fuck you and the potty you rode in on.

    We’ve run the gamut with H. Enemas, glycerin, fiber additives (where we are now). We plot our days around poop. We don’t leave the house much on “poop day” until the splash-down.

    We thank our lucky stars that we get a poop every other day or so. ALL HAIL THE POOP GODDESS, MAY HER LIGHT SMILE UPON YOU!

    I truly hope Catherine gets a gutfull of rocks one day and has someone three times her size in charge of when and how they come out. Yeah.

  • gribblelite

    Dear, dear Heather… (and Jon and Leta)

    I am expecting my first child this summer, so I can’t offer advice. But know that reading your blog has been a bright point and an inspiration for me for years.

    Thanks for your honesty and humor, and most of all for putting yourself in a place where all your talents can be admired and appreciated. Never, ever let people like the pitiful Catherine occupy even one second of your daily thought. Just keep being the wonderful mother, wife and writer that you are.

    I think you should send Catherine the lovely hand-painted Sweaty Goat Balls card signed with a smearing of one of Leta’s fecal offerings.

    Oh, and best wishes for Leta’s success when she is good and ready. I hope she feels better very soon.

  • Tamara Alairys

    Wow – this has to be the most feedback you have ever gotten! I wonder if you’ll even read this far down!!

    Anyway Heather, I love that you can print that stuff and have a laugh, it amazed me how ridiculous and self righteous some people are. I think you should response to Catherine with all our feedback.

    I wish you all the best – you’re a great Mom, just struggling like the rest of us to do the right thing. Just wait til #2 comes along – it’ll all seem so much easier….

    best of luck!

  • Jane Southwood

    Someone else has no doubt said this, I did not read all 750-odd comments. But this is what someome said to me when I was struggling to potty-train my now 30 year old, non-diaper-wearing son… Try to imagine Leta at 16, still wearing diapers. Not possible, right? Try to imagine her at 5. Even this really stretches the imagination. No five year old is going to WANT to wear a diaper. This is just to say that it does not matter what you do or don’t do, or what Leta wants or does not want now or in the near future… she is going to at some point CHOOSE not to wear diapers. So no worries.

    This works with the thumb-sucking issue and the wont-let-go-of-the-blanky issue as well. There are no forty year old women walking around sucking their thumbs or clutching blankies. (Yes, I know I have left myself wide open to all kinds of come-back lines here, mostly X rated, but that’s okay. I’m not changing a thing I said.)

  • Wow, that is one sick, small, crazy-ass individual who feels the need to let loose on someone like that!

    Thank God you all have a sense of humor and an “I don’t give a damn what you all think” mentality.

    I am often criticized by people who deem themselves knowlegable in EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE, so I know how disconcerting that can be. Just repeat after me:
    What the fuck do they know……what the fuck do they know……….

  • milkmaid

    Holy holy holy … well, shit for lack of a better term. I cannot wrap my brain around the way Mothers bash other Mothers like this. Incredible.

    Heather, I’m not able to read all these comments, hope you are lol, my youngest did this exact same thing. I finally FINALLY got him to go to the potty by about 4 or so. It was MISERABLE until then, no doubt. The doc said this happens in children sometimes, they have issues with the percieved pain of a bowel movement and my Little Kid DID, big time.

    Good luck, the frustration of it all is quite overwhelming, even WITHOUT the rantings of idoit Mothers like this woman.

  • I had that problem with my first daughter. I truly think it was because she was potty trained to early by her babysitter. (The sitter had her going “number 1” on the potty at 9 months). For pooping, dd insisted on a pull-up and a indoor tree (to hide behind).
    When we tried taking away the pull-ups, she’d hold it (for up to a week at a time) until she was crying hysterically and shaking.
    Finally, we just said, “Screw It! She’s not going to be 10 years old and going poop in a pull-up.” When we laid off, she started going on the potty.
    Oh yeah, we also bribed her with the $250.00 Barbie Jeep. Good luck, I feel for you!!!!!

  • kales

    Can I just say how much I love reading your site! You make me laugh everyday…just wanted to give you some encouragement…and to apologize on behalf of the people- mothers- who think they have a right to speak into your life as strangers…and hide behind their damn computers and try and pass off their snide comments as suggestions…only because they are so over their own boring lives that they have to meddle with others 🙂

  • dataslave

    We-l-l-l. Isn’t that special? Catherine, baby, you seem to be a little, shall we say, obsessed with death, bodily functions and the level of personal input you have to have in the life decisions of people you don’t know. A little cranky today were we? I think MY mother put it best when she said “If you don’t have anything constructive to say, keep yer trap shut!”.
    Heather, being childless myself, seems you’re doing ok. All the parents above me seem to agree.
    As for your style- I WISH I had the sense of balance and eye for color you both do.

  • Roxyroo

    Like you need another comment, but here goes. Mainly, what goes in must come out: I think you’re going to have to change Leta’s diet. I know she’s a picky eater, but you’re going to have to find whatever food is giving her diarrhea. And by changing her diet, you’re going to have to stop eating the foods you may love too. Write down everything she eats, how much of it, and get a nutritionist’s advice. You may have to get rid of all the junk food in the house. Try making the new food into little smiley faces and animal cutouts, etc. Get some cookie cutters so the healthy new food is fun for her. Basically, she either needs to eat more of “something” or eat a lot less of “something else” that’s making her poop liquified. If she’s eating a bowl of refried beans for dinner on a regular basis, that habit may be the culprit. Start eliminating one thing, then one more. She’ll eat when she gets hungry enough. But she needs to see you and Jon eating good stuff and loving it…My pov, for what it’s worth. Good luck.

  • rac945

    I’m a guy. Yep a male. I have a 14 year old son who is far from diapers. I have always been VERY active in my sons life. From that perspective please let me say that the e-mail you recieved from that woman is the rudest, most insensitive thing I have ever read. The thing about being a parent is that you have to make decisions. The best thing you can do is be in touch with your child and make the best decision you can for them (and you) at that time. You will ALWAYS find someone who thinks you did it wrong. To hell with them. Do your best, trust your gut. It sounds like that is what you guys are doing.

    As an aside, how did she go from cleaning up your daughters room to potty training? That’s quite a leap. Sounds to me that she is jealous because you made time to clean up your house. Perhaps she would offer a photo of hers. On second thought, that’s alright. I don’t really want to see it.

    Thanks for the insights, and the laughs. Keep doing what you are doing.

  • Our pre-school teacher was pushing Thomas to potty train when she first got him, at the age of 2 years and 3 months, in September. It took about a month to convince her that HE wasn’t ready and no one was going to convince him, including Ms. 18-Years-Of-Experience. I love her to death, but we did not see eye-to-eye on that one.
    It seems you already know one of the most important things about being parents: communicating with your kid – both ways. Good for you.

  • I don’t have kids and can’t give any useful advice, but I just wanted to say – good on you for your frankness. I’ve been reading your site for a couple of years and my heart went out to you reading that last entry – I can’t imagine what it feels like to watch your child in that situation and I appreciate your ability to write about it in such a clear and compelling way.

  • Jessi

    Hi Heather. I just discovered your blog a few days ago. Love it. You crack me up.

    Anyways, I wanted to add my sympathy and support to the barrage of comments you already have. No one should have to suffer through what you, Jon and Leta have gone through and then have an ignorant, self righteous woman judge you. That’s just not cool.

    ps. if you’re in the market for a book to make Leta feel more comfortable about pooping, try Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi.

  • MommyofOne


    I sent you an e-mail yesterday when the comments weren’t working but wanted to leave a comment here as well.

    You’re doing awesome. Leta is definitely not ready for potty training. Your home is beautiful and inspired me to take action on my clutter. The haters need to go suck it.

  • Just-A-Guy-Named-Tom

    How fortunate you are Heather, to be blessed with the wisdom of a woman so concerned about your daughter’s potty training that she started her email about the sterility of your home. You know, a lived-in home always makes me want to crap in the toilet. I can’t believe I registered on any website soley because I was moved by the rantings of a maniac. How disgusting people can be and of course her children are potty trained, she would scare the sh+t out of me too. Can you imagine if they DIDN’T use the potty?

    And to Seth and his psychological observations. Clearly Leta had a perfectly normal reaction to the catheter. (See other’s comments in the same situation). If you were to kick a dog when it went pee, it would probably become reluctant to do so over time. And to your agreement about Heather’s house being depressing and sterile… you depress me and make me and wonder if you’re sterile. (crosses fingers).

  • pnetsirk

    our 4 year old’s will matches leta’s and she is on TRIPLE the recommended dose of miralax (gastroenterologist perscribed, for those wanting to judge). every day i wonder if the psychological or physical elements of this issue will leave the longer lasting scars. my heart goes out to all three of you.

  • Sleepless in St. Louis

    See, Heather there are a lot of good people on the internets. Can’t believe all the comments. I don’t have kids so I can only barely relate. What I can’t understand is why someone would take the time out of their life to make these nasty comments to someone else? When she hit “enter” did she feel better about herself? My feeling is that you were just on the receiving end of an unhappy, frustrated person. I like your house too. I have similar taste. I really hope that people such as Catherine will not keep you from sharing you and your family with us. I enjoy seeing Letas pictures and videos etc. She’s just one of those kids that grab your attention for some reason. This coming from a straight single guy who just happens to like watching kids do cute, funny things.

  • Jen

    Heather, I’ve never commented here before, but I have a daughter the same age as Leta, and I visit your site because my daughter and Leta are very similar.

    My daughter turned 3 in November and I’ve been trying to potty-train her for quite some time. I’ve tried everything, and clearly, she isn’t ready so I have backed-off. I understand feeling the pressure of getting her potty-trained, but I refuse to traumatize my child in the process. She’ll let me know when she’s ready and I will provide all that she needs.

    Your post today made me cry here at work (yea, I’m working hard)…reading about Leta having to get a catheter…as a Mom, just broke my heart…

    So, I just thought I’d write an offer a little encouragement. Ignore the judgements of some other mothers, only you know how to mother Leta & it seems you are doing a deeply fantastic job! Leta will let you know when she’s ready … just as my daughter will, too…

    Always trust your own intuition when it comes to your child.

  • Riv 17

    That woman who wrote to you was a total bitch. I don’t understand why any mother would try to judge another. It’s such a difficult job. I’m not a mother yet, but I’ve come close to losing my mind over just dealing with my animals. I can’t imagine, other than seeing my friends who are mothers, how difficult and gut wrenching it can be.

    My friend had a little boy who suffered with constipation and he too was terrified to go the bathroom and didn’t move forward to potty training until he was 4. I don’t know what you doctor has told you about constipation, but when there isn’t enough water in the colon or enough of the right good bacteria, it causes problems. My friend tried children’s chewable probiotics. You can get them at Wild Oats. I know you have a really hard time getting Leta to ingest anything she doesn’t want to and I’m sure you have probably tried just about everything. Besides friendly bacteria, the potassium/sodium balance is a major factor in keeping the colon lubricated. Too much sodium and not enough potassium will caused the body to retain water and that causes constipation. Water helps to dilute sodium in the blood and fruits are really high in potassium which can offset sodium. Oranges and bananas have some of the highest levels of potassium, while most processed foods are rather high in sodium. It’s a very tricky balance and I wish I had an easy answer for you, because I know how hard it is to try to get a child to eat something they don’t want to. If there is enough water in her colon though, it will make it so much harder for her to hold it.

    I wish you the best of luck.

  • sarabsara

    comment? jeez louise, where to start? my daughter is about one month older than leta (and she is my second child. i have a 5 year old son). she has no interest in potty training and tells me so. she tried underwear once and as far as she is concerned, they have holes in them because her pee-pee came right out of them so why bother wearing them when pull-ups are so absorbant? makes sense, right?

    my son potty trained right before he turned 4 years old. just in time for nursery school, over the summer before.

    DO NOT RUSH THIS. leta will train when she is ready, and there is NOTHING wrong with her not being trained at 3! i mean, it’s kinda unheard of, so early, really… i think more kids train closer to 4 years these days certainly.

    my son didn’t have issues like leta, but he was terrified of pooping on the potty. we bribed, begged, promised it would be ok. one day, i just plopped him on the toilet really quickly when i saw he was about to do his thing. it’s not normally our way to force things, but i did it and he saw the world did not end just because he pooped on the potty. after that, everything just clicked.

    things will just click for leta. but don’t feel pressure to push her. you and jon know what is best for her. she will not enter college in pull-ups. don’t worry about anything else!

  • Heather –

    Totally know what you are going through on two fronts: our almost 4-year-old daughter has poo issues, too. Always has had as a result of a chronic health problem. My partner and I live and die by the quality and quantity of poo that does or doesn’t come out of this kid.

    On the other front, our almost 4-year-old son just got kicked out of play school for “aggressive” behaviour and just like a plague of locusts, a gaggle of perfectly-coiffed judgmental mothers descended upon us.

    Un-f**king believable.

  • Heather –

    Totally know what you are going through on two fronts: our almost 4-year-old daughter has poo issues, too. Always has had as a result of a chronic health problem. My partner and I live and die by the quality and quantity of poo that does or doesn’t come out of this kid.

    On the other front, our almost 4-year-old son just got kicked out of play school for “aggressive” behaviour and just like a plague of locusts, a gaggle of perfectly-coiffed judgmental mothers descended upon us.

    Un-f**king believable.

  • I hope that I can one day be as sweet and kind a mother as Catherine. Those two children are incredibly lucky to have such a tyrant for a mother. I am expecting my 4th child in 5 years. Obviously, I am not the sanest person to be offering advice. I have always potty trained right at 2 yrs old (b/c nothing like 2 in diapers to get you motivated.) But 2 year old are not really potty-trained. Sure, you can brag that they are. But they are really potty-possibles. Possibly they may pee on the potty, possibly on the floor. Possibly in a cup on the floor like my 3 yr old did for a while. Waiting until they are 3 is probably much smarter and cleaner. I just don’t have the patience.

  • itsadaisy

    Yeah. Add one more to your side Heather. Down with ignorant judgement.

  • Heather,

    At the time I’m commenting there are some 722+ comments. I obviously don’t have time to read through all of them so please forgive me if I repeat what has already been said.

    First, I want to tell you that I’m the mother of a child who from the age of 1 until about the age of 5 suffered from chronic constipation. I’ve had to give my child an enema on several occasions and know just what you mean when you say you hope no one has to ever do that to their own child. It is horrifying, as you know, and in a nutshell, you’ve violated your child. It’s a horrible feeling to have to live with. I could go on and on about our experience with a child who had so much willpower he could hold TWO enemas in! Suffice it to say that those 4 years were my darkest moments as a mother. I truly thought I was going to lose my freaking mind over it all.

    Second, because of the experience with our first child and his constipation, which of course I thought I caused by pushing too hard on the potty training issue, I didn’t initiate potty training with my second child. And you know what? That boy potty trained himself – at the most inopportune time. He decided he wanted to start using the potty when his baby sister was about 3 days old. *That* was fun.

    Third, I have a daughter who is 1 month younger than Leta and she is potty trained but you know what? I had nothing to do with it! She did it all on her own, just like her brother. Because she was ready! You are right on to trust your own intuition and to know that your daughter will start using the toilet when she’s READY. Screw people like the holier than thou Catherine. Some people truly have no life and the only way they can feel better about their own pathetic life is to criticize others.

    And finally…screw Catherine’s fashion sense. She clearly has none. Your house is wonderful – I always enjoy seeing pictures of it. It has a lot of character and you’ve done a great job decorating it. It has your style.

    I’ve sent you a few emails over the past year or so (I live in the area) and my guess is that they end up in your junk mail folder. Too bad Catherine’s didn’t end up there too. I’m sorry you have to read that kind of shit. You’ve got thicker skin than I do, that’s for sure!

  • Daugher In Law

    Wow. “Potty training is probably the easiest thing to do. I go to work every day and he is trained on the potty.”

    Of course it’s easy when you go to work and someone ELSE trains your child to go on the potty.

  • Jen

    There is little as frustrating in parenting life as watching your child stubbornly refuse to go to the bathroom. The pee dance, distended stomach, farts to clear a room, and still won’t go. I’ve been there, and we’re almost over it, just in time to (sigh) potty train the little brother. I’d have that self-righteous potty-training woman come over and have a go at my boys, but I’m really not up for the therapy they’d need down the road. It’ll happen. Eventually. In the meantime, I recommend large doses of red wine after she’s in bed. It cuts down on parental frustration.

  • Leanne

    Oh man, I can relate to this one!

    My youngest daughter has faced similar issues. Thankfully, we didn’t have to do the catheter bit, but the holding in pee, constipation, and letting it out at night when she can relax? Been there.

    All that has worked for us is time, patience & encouragement (and trying not to freak out – which can be really hard after the 5th accident in 2 hours). Oh, and lots of fiber, probiotic yogurt & acidopholous milk every day, too. It has been about 6 months since we turfed the diapers (she was showing all the signs of being ready), and although she still occasionally wets her pants, it’s now because she’s too busy doing other things to get to the toilet in time. She still only poops about once every 5-7 days, but now she does it on the potty instead of in her pants, and the look of fear has left her eyes. One of the things that helped with the peeing is that I started using Penaten (diaper cream) on her vulva every morning – then, even if she doesn’t wipe properly, she’s still protected from the sting that had her so pee-shy.

    Good luck. TTSP. Breathe deep. It’ll happen!

  • marianne

    So sorry for everything you and Leta are going through.
    I found potty training my girls much easier once I stopped using Pull Ups. I only let them wear real panties during the day, and it only took about a week to get the hang of it. No girls of any age like to walk around in wet panties! Good Luck!!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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