The idea of taking a sabbatical was conceived in November. Since then, I’ve kept a running list of tasks to undertake during these 365 days. The first item on the list is mundane, but necessary: Potty train my three-year-old daughter. Please read on, and I promise never to revisit this topic after today.

On Thursday night, I armed myself with prizes – Barbie ballerinas, Dora dolls, heart-shaped sunglasses, glittery bangles… I bought a life-time supply of girls’ size four underpants – Hello Kitty, Ariel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty – a panty cornucopia. On Friday evening, I asked my daughter to choose a pair of big girl panties, and we marched directly to the potty. She sat, but nothing happened. An hour later, she sat again. Nothing happened. We retreated to a diaper for the night.

Shortly after lunch the following day, my daughter’s favorite sitter arrived, and I stepped out for two hours. When I returned, the sitter reported her triumph: my daughter had tinkled on the potty three times. What did the sitter have that I didn’t? Patience. She put my daughter on the potty every twenty minutes and didn’t leave her side for two solid hours. Shortly after the sitter left, I put my daughter on the potty. She cried and thrashed around on the throne. Then came a miracle! I flushed the toilet, and… Voila! Something about the sound of rushing water moved her. I jumped up and down, cheered, clapped my hands, and held my arms in a V for victory. I sent boastful texts to my girlfriends.

I never imagined I would have a real sense of accomplishment at the end of this messy weekend, but I do. I compare it to completing the first draft of a term paper or preparing a pro forma package. The project isn’t in final form, but I’ve taken a strong first stab at it. Plus there’s a cherry on top: I feel even closer to my daughter than I did just two days ago. That is something I’ve never experienced after turning in a paper or meeting a work deadline.


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