What I learned from Mom: Childhood

Mom told me that her relaxed attitude toward our bedwetting was a combination of experience, necessity and bluff. She tried hard to keep her worries from us kids, so that our bedwetting (and dealing with our bedwetting) were much harder on her than it seemed to me.

Mom confirmed the genetic aspect: She wet the bed until she was a teenager. (She didn’t say anything about Dad, and I didn’t ask. But my nieces and nephews on that side are late bedwetters as well.) It had been hard on her – waking (and sleeping) in a puddle, feeling shame and inadequacy, fearing friends’ discovery, hearing the contempt of relatives, avoiding overnight stays, smelling the odor that lingered in a room and on clothes. Her parents did not allow her to wear protection, believing that would remove the incentive to stop wetting. They tried all the available cures: Drugs, alarms, waking, no drinks before bed, …

Because of that, she knew that bedwetting wasn’t something that one could control. She resolved to be relaxed, sympathetic and reassuring to her own children, and provide us protection against a wet bed.

She wasn’t at all concerned that my sisters wet the bed as pre-schoolers.

When my oldest sister was about to start first grade, Mom raised her bedwetting with our doctor. He confirmed that it was likely not something my sister could control, and that Mom and my sister should not be too concerned. Some kids took longer to outgrow it. While there were drugs that sometimes provided relief, he didn’t recommend them for children. They weren’t a permanent solution and they had side effects. He didn’t recommend alarms or waking, either. Sleep is just too important to children. Unless she showed symptoms beyond just wetting the bed, the only thing he would recommend was to manage the consequences.


3 thoughts on “What I learned from Mom: Childhood

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this difficult subject.

    And wow! Six kids and all bedwetters – your mom deserves a medal!

    Have your siblings all grown out of their bedwetting, or do they have lingering issues ike yourself? I’m interested as my partner is dealing with incontinence, but her sister doesn’t seem to be bothered by it (although we don’t know for sure, since they have never discussed it in her family).

    Also, how open was your family about the bedwetting/managing the issue? Would it be an open and natural thing that you kids were still using nightime protection at a late age, or would you keep it a secret like in my partners family, change in your own room, hide the wet diapers, etc?

    I guess ‘normal’ is what you make it in a family. And if one is open and relaxed about a minor issue such as this, I guess kids can be open and relaxed about having to use protection.

    • I’ll have more to say on Mom and how she managed things.

      Bedwetting wasn’t a secret in the family, but it wasn’t advertised, either. It wasn’t a topic for general discussion. I never saw any of my siblings in a diaper (other than changing infants). Changing (in private, in the bathroom) was the last thing at night and first thing in the morning. I never paid attention to what people were tossing in the trash in the morning, and I don’t think anyone else did, either. But nobody went out of the way to hide it or comment on it.

      I got a lot of sympathy from my sisters when I started wetting the bed. But that was the only time I discussed it with anyone in the family other than Mom.

  2. Cat,

    I have to agree with you and your mom that sleep was more important for everyone. My mom was the same way and so am I. Yes diapers were used at our house too and a good night’s sleep was the intent of they being used. Being done just before getting into bed and undone forst thing in the am followed by a shower and the good night’s sleep in the middle was what counted.


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