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A little bit of everything all rolled into one

To go ahead and get the McFatty talk out of the way, I stepped on the scale this morning and didn’t break it. Woot.  I’m up to 195, but considering I wore lounge pants all week last week and ate my fair share of a pan of macaroni and cheese, I’ll take it.  Because it could’ve been WAY worse. 

In fact, not that I’m resigning myself to failure or anything, but I’m kind of just trying to maintain some semblance of not becoming a body-double for the Goodyear blimp between now and New Years.  I have plans, people.  Big plans.  And I’ll keep those to myself until then so that you’ll all forget about the fact that I have plans and then if I don’t go through with them I’ve only let myself down and not the entire internet.

Speaking of letting people down, I kind of let my mom down yesterday.  I never wanted to make this blog a place that hurt people I care about and yesterday’s post hurt her.  For that, I’m sorry.  Truly.  My mom is not a monster.  Is she perfect? No. But she knows that.  I know that.  She’s the best mom I could have.  I owe much of my success in life to her constant and unwavering support and love. 

I never want to let her down and I’ve probably spent most of my life trying to keep that from happening, and yesterday, I think part of my post let her down a little bit because it seemed like I was arguing against her parenting.  And I sort of am.  But now, instead of just dealing with my emotions and feelings regarding my interaction with Joshua, I’m forced to look at my relationship with my mom and it’s hard. 

I had to have a particularly difficult conversation with her this morning on my drive to work where I not only felt the need to explain myself but also pointed out what I felt like were moments in my childhood that have helped shape my philosophy of parenting.  And in having that discussion, I realized that there are only two major instances where I wish she’d taken a minute to step back and cool off. 

(Don’t get me wrong, I was spanked more than twice, and maybe I deserved them, but there are only two instances that I vividly remember as being moments I wish I could go back to and throw up a giant time-out sign and with my hands a la Zack Morris and freeze everything.)

And the thing about those moments?  My mom doesn’t remember them.  Or didn’t remember them until I brought them up.

Which tells me that the parent may not remember but the child does. Which is why I never want to punish Joshua in anger.  Can I be angry with him? Yes, absolutely.  And I undoubtedly will be angry with him.  Probably so angry I will want to throw a chair through a wall (which is another true story for another day).  But while I may forget because of age or self-preservation or whatever, he may not.  Ever.

I don’t want that kind of memory for him. 

Like Alison said in the comments, I’m not arguing for or against spanking as I know that every parent has his or her own decisions to make regarding whether or not to spank and how.  And I know that not every parent who spanks does so out of anger or frustration.   (And let’s also clarify here that there’s a distinct difference between spanking as a form of punishment and swatting a diaper/bottom or hand when the child is about to get him or herself into a dangerous situation and you need to get the child’s attention quickly.  Cool?)

I understand that for some kids, talking doesn’t work.  Saying the same thing over and over again in any tone of voice whatsoever with no sort of follow-through and consequence doesn’t work.  (Though this doesn’t necessarily mean spanking is the alternative. Just that there has to be a consequence for wrongdoings.)

Do I think that spanking can sometimes be an effective form of punishment? Maybe.  For the right child and the right family, and when done in the right way. Which means NEVER in anger and ALWAYS with a discussion that follows about why the child received the punishment s/he did. 

I think that far too often, children aren’t given that courtesy.  The child acts, the parent reacts, and then the parent, perhaps out of shame, tries not to mention the event ever took place.  Or, out of guilt, overcompensates with niceness after the fact.  I would probably fall into the latter category based on the huge load of Mom Guilt I carry on a regular basis, and that just wouldn’t be good for anyone. 

I think that for some kids, spanking isn’t effective.  It doesn’t work.  It isn’t a magic-fix-it-you-must-do-this-or-you’ll-ruin-your-child kind of solution.  It’s completely possible to raise a perfectly respectable, respectful, well-adjusted human being without ever raising your hand to that child.

This post and the post from last night aren’t about spanking or not spanking or what I should do or what you should do or what any other parent should do.  We all have to figure that our for ourselves.  I totally thought I’d be a spank-er until I became a parent and saw my child’s spirit.  His personality.  Until I met HIM.  And I know that it’s not something that will be my go-to. 

This is, however, about how I felt last night in that moment and I don’t like how I felt.  I don’t like the visceral reaction I felt in my guts that said “VOMIT NOW” and the feeling of my pulse beating in my temples and the dizziness.  And I know that if I don’t like how I felt, that’s not the kind of reaction I ever need to have with my son.  

I didn’t respond to yesterday’s comments like I usually do because I didn’t know what to say.  I didn’t want to forgive myself, to make it seem that easy to move past the situation.  But I know that I have to.  I have to look ahead.  I am so incredibly thankful for those of you who spoke up yesterday to remind me that I’m never going to be perfect and that yesterday’s reaction doesn’t have to be the way I always react. That next time I’ll remember to breathe.  To think.  And to react with love.

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