Friday, August 21, 2009

I became part of the maelstrom and...

We all have our breaking point. And I had mine today. With my daughter. Who has been testing me ever since I got home on Sunday night. My precious daughter, whom I adore. My willful daughter who can suddenly turn into a wild child, an obstinate, belligerent, angry little girl. And I got sucked up into the maelstrom today. No, that's not true. I became part of the maelstrom and...I spanked her. For the first time in her life.

It was as if I was watching from above. I was so detached on one hand, yet so bloody angry on the other. E and I have an agreement that we will raise our children without spanking them. After I spanked her, she flung herself on her bed and I left the room, stunned. My hand stinging and my body vibrating with anger and shock. And then there was a silence, punctuated only by her angry wails.

E came home a short time later, and I told him that I had lost it and spanked her. I asked if he could go in and talk with her. I wasn't ready yet, and I don't think she was ready for me...either.

After E came out, a few minutes passed, and I went in to see her. To talk to her. At first, before I said anything, she threw the covers over her head shutting me out. I patted her gently through her blanket and asked if I could talk with her. There was no response. And so, I did what I had come in to do. I apologized. I told her how very sorry I was, that I had lost my temper, and that I had been wrong in spanking her. That. I. Was. Wrong.

And then it was as if the sun came out. My precious girl threw her arms around my neck and climbed into my lap. She said she loved me. I buried my nose in her neck and told her how much I loved her. And again, how sorry I was. And I am. So very sorry.

There is something incredibly powerful about apologizing to your child.

I know that some parents believe in spanking. I am not making a judgement here. But, for me, it is as my mother told me. The few times she spanked us, while we were growing up, were about HER losing control. The spanking was about her anger. And she regrets it. Today the spanking of GIRL was about my anger. And I should have walked away...

I am human. This is true. I believe I am a very good mother. Often. But, I have years to go before I am done. Learning how to be a good mother. Years to go...

Painting titled: No Outward Sign by Chuck Gumpert.

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  1. I am so sorry. I can tell you feel terrible. It sounds like everything that came after was just right though, and that counts for so much.

    Just tonight I had people over, one of whom is a police detective that investigates child abuse and we were all talking about how many times our kids had pushed us to the brink. My mother started out spanking, but ended up beating. I vowed never to do that. I can't tell you how many times I sat in my bedroom with my back against the door, with a child beating on it and crying because I knew if I opened the door I might not be able to control myself.

    You are a wonderful and loving mother.

  2. my mom spanked me. I still love her :)

    you are a good mom, girl.

  3. This is exactly how I feel.

    Miles went through a stage where I just couldn't control my anger. This exact thing happened. I was horrified at my own propensity to anger. He was scared. It was awful. It was about napping. He was testing, waking his brother, it was a silly thing to get so upset over. But it happened. It still makes me sick to think of it. Because what you said is so true. If a person is pushed to spanking, mostly likely they're too angry to go down that road. I just don't ever want to punish my children out of that place.

    He earnestly accepted my apology too. Kids are so resilient, but I think my heart will always be a little different.

    Sorry I wrote a novel. I just totally get it.

  4. I completely agree with you. I don't want to spank my child, because I am afraid it would not be a controlled decision. I feel it is a dangerous road to go down. That being said, there have been moments where it could have happened. We all have those days.

    You are a good mom. Parents apologizing to their kids is a very powerful thing. How many adults are still waiting for that apology from their parents?

  5. I'm not much for spanking either, but, like you, choose to stay out of the decisions that other people make. I just think there are other ways to make a point most of the time, and spanking is probably not the most effective.

    And? You are a good mom. No doubt about it.

  6. As a mom who does (on rare occasion) spank, I can still say I know exactly how you feel. I have only spanked out of anger, when it was about ME, once.....and I felt horrible. I apologized and we all moved on, and you will find the same. In the meantime, big hug. I know how bad it feels.

  7. We are all practicing this good mother thing, and it is trying at times.

    A good mother apologizes when she is wrong.

    This day will pass...

  8. You write about this difficult experience so well. I feel your words, each one. We've all been there as mothers whether we admit it or not; the point where control is lost and things happen. I agree that swift and sincere apologies are crucial.

    Great post about a tough topic JCK.

  9. I spanked my son maybe three times during his toddlerhood - only once do I think it was in a state of total crazed frustration and anger.

    The worst was when we were spending 3 months in Norway, during my husband's academic residency at the university there. My son was 3, we went shopping, and then were on the train platform with our bags of groceries, to go back to our student dorm.

    He asked for an orange to eat - I peeled it and gave it to him, and he didn't like it. OK, I threw the mangled orange away. He asked for another one - perhaps thinking another orange would be different. I said no. He pitched a tantrum, and there I was - on a 6' wide concrete platform between 2 traintracks, with 6 bags of groceries, and a screaming kid!!

    I spanked his butt! He flailed and tried to hit me back, but I was wearing a winter coat and it didn't impact me. He yelled, and cried, and all these Norwegian people came and sat on the benches and looked at this American woman who couldn't control her kid.

    Then suddenly he just tired himself out.

    That was the worst. I felt awful, but I also felt that, being there, on the platform,w ith the groceries, I couldn't use other techniques like "time out" - so I kinda freaked out.

    Good for you - you are a good mom. She may test you in the months to come.

  10. So, if not spanking, then what wood you have done differently to halt her childish behavior toward you?

  11. Apologizing is very powerful. It's also a great model. I'm not so good at apologizing but I've done it and there's a human connection made that almost makes the transgression worthwhile.

  12. Sometimes it is so easy to lose control when our children have lost theirs. Understanding that parenting isn't just about the kids growing and changing but also about what you learn along the way assures that you are and will continue to be an excellent mother.

  13. Phew. I used to spank my daughters once in a while when they were little. That was years ago. Now, with Diego, I have managed to not do it at all. I think that over the years I have acquired some tools to use other than spanking, tools that I'm sure you use, too.

    This post proves what a wonderful mother you are.

  14. Yes, it is a powerful thing for a grown-up to apologize to a child - especially about scary or confusing behavior. Well done, you.

  15. oh. i hear you. we don't spank either, for these very reasons.

    your apology is so, so important.

  16. You're such a good mom and you handled it really well.

    I've more swatted their litle bums than spanked, and I don't like it either, though I'm not strictly opposed. (Some kids are BAD.)

    Anyway, you did good!

  17. Been there. Done that. I think you did good.


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