I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “progress” lately, as I see it in my own life and in the lives of those around me.
Sometimes, it feels like nothing is changing, and we feel discouraged. We try many different approaches to the same challenge, but none seem to work. We hope and long for any sign of forward movement. This is a phase where we might be tempted to give up. And yet, we know we can’t, because forward is the only way to go.
But, sometimes when we least expect it, we get a nudge, a triumph, a step in the right direction. It might be unimpressive to those around us, but we know what a big deal it is. If we are wise, we celebrate it, and then build on it. Even if we’re not sure tomorrow will be as successful, we have to hold that victory close to our hearts and let it fill us with confidence.
There are, of course, many examples I could use here to illustrate. The one closest to my heart right now is Little A’s journey out of diapers. To see her fearlessness in leaping into a pool, or her talent in drawing, or her eloquence and wit in speaking, one might be surprised to find her lack of interest in giving up diapers. We have tried every reasonable and healthy incentive to help her progress.
She will be four this fall, and I’d say only in the past month have we seen noticeable steps forward in this area. Today, I would consider a breakthrough day. From the time she got dressed in the morning, until she put her pajamas on for bedtime, there was no diaper, no pull-up, and no accidents. She held it when she needed to, and made it to the bathroom in time for three very successful visits.
Seeing one’s child beaming with happiness and pride after doing something that has been very challenging is one of life’s greatest joys. I know we will all look back on this stage of her life and laugh about how much angst we felt, but we really needed a day like today.
Most of us aren’t dealing with potty training, but most of us are facing something ourselves or helping someone we love make progress in a challenging situation. After a day like today for Little A and our family, I urge everyone to keep trying. Be eager, but relax. Success will come as long as there is persistent effort. Love unconditionally. Accidents and mistakes and setbacks will happen. It’s OK, just get up and try again! Celebrate progress, even if it feels goofy. Not everyone will appreciate the importance of little victories, but that’s all right, too. Find someone who will understand, and let that person know how you’re doing. Progress can be messy (especially with potty training), but it’s so worth it.
I don’t know if A will be as eager to go diaper-less tomorrow. I’m trying to brace myself for that possibility, but I’m hoping to remind her in the morning of her successes. I saw a new level of confidence and maturity in her eyes today, and I want to do everything I can to encourage her.
Blessings to all who keep stepping forward amid inevitable steps back, and to all those who are walking alongside someone trying to make progress!