Photo credit: BSA Photography
Anyone with kids can probably attest that potty training is literally one of the hardest things you’ve encountered as a parent so far. I know I sure as heck can. It really felt like we were climbing a mountain... in flip-flops! There were highs that were full of celebrations with potty treats and dancing while we cheered our girl on. But then, just as things were looking good, it takes a sharp turn for the worse. Get ready, because there are just as many lows. I am talking full of sheer and utter dread. There were days that I felt so defeated.
Just when it seemed like we had started hiking up that mountain again, we’d fall almost right back to the bottom.
But I am here to tell you, there is hope!
Be prepared for anything
Starting out on the potty training journey, I was so eager for it to begin. In hindsight, maybe I was a little too eager.
I quickly went to Costco and got a great big jug of M&M’s to serve as our potty treats. And we were off to the races!
It started great! Sometimes she would tell me when she needed to go, and other times, I would ask her if she needed to go. Many times she’d say yes and other times she wouldn’t and messes were made.
After about a week and half into this new journey the novelty of the whole process wore off. I didn’t know what to do. I read many, many articles about what NOT to do and one really stood out. “Don’t lose your cool.”
REALLY!? I just wiped poop off the walls, floor, bed frame AND toy box and I am supposed to be cool as a cucumber?
Bless my baby’s heart. I know she was learning. And I know that I’d get hot headed sometimes. She was still processing this.
She was really trying hard too. And as gross as some days were, it was adorable to see her effort.
I did not want to come across mad at something she couldn’t control or didn’t understand. I absolutely did not want her to feel like she had failed.
I quickly needed to reassess my expectations. I needed to be prepared for anything. Good days are awesome... but bad days are going to happen. That’s life. I needed to get over it and know that I am making memories, and one day we would laugh at this.
Think outside the box
Once the novelty wore off, I was at a loss. I didn’t know how to keep it fresh, new and exciting. A fun environment is what she enjoyed. There was another thing I found problematic. Occasionally, I would forget to remind her to go potty. Whether I was with our youngest daughter or cooking dinner, sometimes, especially if we were doing good with this potty routine, I would “drop the ball” by not keeping her on schedule.
Because of that, accidents were also made.
In the midst of feeling perplexed about what to do next,
a dear friend told me what she did with her daughter.
She said “get a potty clock! And bring books into the bathroom.”
The clock will help get you there in time and the books will keep her entertained. It’s funny, I knew about the books but when you are so far up this mountain you forget about helpful suggestions from others that were made in the past.
We have a grandfather clock that just so happens to chime every 15 minutes. Perfect! That was our potty clock. I grabbed some new books that she hadn’t read before and I would read to her to help her relax. My dear friend’s suggestions were brilliant!
It was like we took off the flip-flops and put on mountain boots!
Make it fun
Those suggestions were awesome! She was pottying all the time. It got to the point where she would remember that she needed to go and I didn’t have to remind her. She loved getting her potty treat and everything was great, except she stopped pooping.
I read many things about this happening. It is very common.
A lot of it has to do with feeling shameful or embarrassed about this process being gross and because of that,
she held it in and would not go. Something else for us to think about was that we love pasta and cheese in this house.
If it were up to my husband, he’d eat pasta every night.
Because of that, it could cause her difficulty to make bowel movements.
Our pediatrician told us to give the girls a half dose of
milk of magnesia every day and that would help with
the ease of going.
We were still at a wall with going “number 2” until I had an idea.
When I was a kid, I created this game for my sister who is 10 years younger than me. I transformed my room into a place called “Rainbowland.” I used my motorized disco light to cast colors all over the room with exciting disney scores playing in the background. She would walk on clouds (pillows) until she got to the door where I had a treasure box full of
Mardi Gras beads. My sister was able to pick a prize and then it was over- Quick and fun.
That’s it! I needed to make it fun. If I was able to have her enjoy going to the potty, for whatever reason, I felt like I would see
big results. So I recreated “Rainbowland!”
I made a ticket with her name so when she poops in the potty, she gets a ticket to “Rainbowland.” I made a treasure chest and started to fill it with different things I knew she loved.
I ordered rhinestones from Amazon, I added Mardi Gras beads, dress up clothes, necklaces and bracelets.
I wanted to keep it new and exciting, so I replaced different items to keep it fun and fresh. Each time she goes, she sees something that wasn’t in the treasure box before- and it worked!
She is still as excited to go to “Rainbowland” now as she was in the beginning. She is thrilled when she goes to the potty and gets her ticket. To see her excited like this absolutely makes me melt. It is such a cheesy idea, but it worked for us!
The struggle is real when it comes to climbing potty mountain!
I quickly found that I would use whatever tactic that could work. And for us, this has.
They get big so fast! It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions of the potty training journey, but keep in mind- this too shall pass.
I cannot believe she is 3 years old already. It feels like yesterday we were trying to figure out how this tiny preemie could keep her baby formula down.
Now, she is using the bathroom on her own!
This stage will quickly fade into so many others, so I savor every single second. We could not be more proud of our big girl.
Follow our family’s journey!
I was working at a night club on Bourbon Street and stepped into the back. He sat at a desk filling out a new hire work form.
At that moment it was like time stopped. It was like the beating of the bass from the music on the dance floor silenced, and all I could hear was my own heartbeat. I still remember what the room smelled like, I even remember what we were wearing. I couldn’t look away, as if I was frozen. I knew instantly that this was the very moment I had prayed for. This was him.
People often ask me if it was love at first sight.
My answer to them is always, “absolutely.”
It was about a year after Katrina and New Orleans was starting to get put back together again. I was still pretty shaken by the experience, so to have him in my life now was so comforting.
My only one, unique rose
Although we had found each other, we still had a lot of growing to do. Our twenties were wild to say the least. New Orleans doesn’t sleep. The bars never close. So, spending so many nights in the club meant we also saw so many sunrises. Once the sun came up, we would dart out of the bar and cover ourselves like an Anne Rice character from ‘Interview with the Vampire.' We would run to his old Volvo wagon and quickly drive out of the French Quarter.
He was so spontaneous and I loved that. Some mornings we’d walk to Audubon Park and climb trees. My favorite mornings were spent on the levee of the Mississippi river flying kites.
Afterwards, he’d take me down to the railroad tracks by the riverbend and smash coins under the train wheels. After the train would pass he would pull out ‘The Little Prince’, one his personal favorite books. Douglas read, “There may be millions of roses in the world, but your my only one, unique rose.”
As he continued, all I could do was melt into the grass.
As he looked down reading, I couldn’t help but cry a little. I knew even more in this moment that this was the boy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
There was no stopping us
Once we cleaned up our act there was no stopping us. It was like something ignited in us and we had a burning desire to make something happen for ourselves.
This became more evident by the day.
Douglas decided that he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to help people who have a history of substance abuse. At first, all of the local universities rejected his application. The community college accepted him, but pressured him to enroll in an air-conditioner repair program, saying that medical school was too lofty of a goal for someone like him. He pushed forward anyway, and ended up getting a full scholarship to Loyola University. He went to college and also started a fundraiser to bring scientific instruments to local classrooms across New Orleans by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. After Loyola, he graduated from LSU New Orleans School of Medicine.
He is now a doctor of medicine in a psychiatry residency program which will allow him to practice a mind-and-body approach to substance abuse.
Photo credit: BSAPhotography.com
We had no idea what 2015 would bring
In December of 2014 he asked me to marry him.
We had talked about what we hoped to accomplish in our lives, but we had no idea what 2015 was going to bring.
In April of that year we became first time homeowners.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality and on August 1st of 2015 we were the first gay couple married inside of Jackson Square in the French Quarter.
In November, our first daughter was born. We were elated!
It all seemed surreal. We had always dreamt of the day we both would become dads. In the beginning of our search, we were told that for adoption, our wait could be anywhere from 5-7 years because we were a gay couple.
To our amazement we waited a mere 3 and half weeks.
Although it was a short amount of time to wait, it was still super emotional and very hard at times. Some days it seemed like the adoption would happen, and others it seemed like it wouldn’t. For a few days there, it almost didn’t and those 3 days of grief will always stay with me.
Our baby was born prematurely and she had to stay in the NICU. She was born at 30 weeks and because of this, the original adoptive family backed out of the adoption and left our angel without a family to go home to.
As life would have it, we were indeed allowed to adopt our baby girl.
Afterwards, I guess we did what any parent would do in that moment. We ran to Target! We had about a month to plan and get the nursery ready. After a long month of gaining weight and getting stronger, she was discharged from the NICU.
On December 4th we got to bring our tiny angel home.
That was the best Christmas- EVER.
For 10 years I was the general manager of a popular restaurant in the French Quarter. About a year and a half after we adopted our first daughter our second daughter was born.
It was then that I left the restaurant and became a stay at home dad.
Douglas and I both felt strongly about one of us being home with the girls. I knew that this was my calling.
Photo credit: BSA photography.com
It’s like we’re unicorns
A couple of months into the transition into my new
stay-at-home dad role, I really felt like our journey could really help someone out there. So, I created my blog and began to write. I wrote about my past lessons of life and what what we had learned so far in parenthood.
I write about my insecurities and learning how to embrace who I am. Being a family with two dads makes it obvious whenever you walk into places. People often stare. Most of the time it is innocent and purely out of curiosity. For many around here, especially living in the south, people aren’t exposed to same-sex families often. When they finally see one, they tend to watch very closely. For me, it’s like we are unicorns and we have finally been spotted for the first time. I constantly tell myself that this is a teaching moment for them. They probably have never seen a family like ours before and they are curious.
I suppose if we need to be the ones to help teach them then,
so be it.
Recently, we went out to eat and there was a family that sat beside us. They were obviously disgusted. I admit, that hurt.
We try so hard to be good parents. God knows I am so much of a better father than my own. To have someone look over with such hatred validates my reasons that I started my blog.
We love our children just as any other straight family does, if not more than some. Just like them, we would do anything on Earth for our babies.
We do that every single day, regardless if we are two dads.
It is my mission to broaden the one sided view of the stereotypical American family. We too, are living the American dream. We live in an incredibly divisive time and right now visibility is critical to help destigmatize and normalize same-sex families.
We are the new normal, loving family that teaches our children acceptance of all walks of life and the importance of being kind to one another. Our place in this world is earned, not owed.
Photo credit: BSA photography.com
You can always be respectful
This journey is beautiful. I am beyond grateful to the universe for allowing me to find my purpose in life. The gratitude I get daily from my girls easily allows me to overlook the stares from onlookers and the occasional ignorant bigot.
Who knows? Maybe the hatred they spew comes from a place in their heart that longs to find the kind of love that radiates from each of us.
It is so important to embrace each other for all that we are, all that we bring and all that we stand for. Let us all lead by example- while showing our children who their parents are by being respectful and tolerant of everyone. Even if you do not agree with them, you can always be respectul.
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