Posted by Sherry , Monday, May 30, 2011 Monday, May 30, 2011
I did it.
The unspeakable. The unthinkable. The thing that, as a contemporary suburban mom I've been fairly certain I wouldn't do.
I can hear my own mother, a happy, educated, well-rounded woman, raised in the 1950s/60s, laughing aloud as she reads this. “Oh the DRAMA” she's saying! For her life and for mine – although not an every day occurance – spanking was pretty much, well, expected. Mom would say she's no worse for the wear and that I'm not either. My father would probably even go so far as to say that spanking is an ESSENTIAL part of child-rearing and damn the “experts”.
Full disclosure here – I was not breastfed, was left in a car while mom ran in for groceries, I ate non-organic blueberries and was allowed to ride my tricycle without a helmet so it IS quite possible that deep down, I hate my parents and I am a serial killer. Also, these are probably the reasons I got fat.
The 'why' that follows the “I spanked my child” statement is long, dramatic and quite frankly, unimportant. The significant part to know is that I DID spank out of frustration and not from a place of 'this is for your own good'. Ruby was not trying to run into a busy street or touch a hot stove for the 20th time in a row – the few whispered reasons that some brave (ashamed?) souls have given to me as explanations of when they 'would, perhaps, maybe' spank their child.
Not surprisngly for a girl that tweets, facebooks and blogs, I'm a member of a number of 'parenting' support websites. Dichotomies that pop up in child-rearing discussions on these boards would not suprise you. On everything from breastfeeding to pacifier use, mommies can get their panties in a bunch supporting their opinion. I've even seen full fledged ARGUMENTS about the importance and/or uslessness of COUPONING.
Personally, I'm much too hungover most Sunday mornings to be bothered clipping coupons so I don't participate in that discussion.
What I rarely see, even in the most open and honest parts of my mommy community, is even the slightest mention of spanking used as a child rearing tool. Spanking isn't even a 'hot topic' because, well, it's just not DISCUSSED. Its like the giant elephant in the room with a red handprint on its ass.
If you were to poll my upper-middle class neighborhood, community playgroups, the local Gymboree, you'd likely find that if anyone DOES spank, they don't ADMIT to it for goodness sake.
These same women will swap anti-anxiety medication suggestions, brazilian waxing mishaps, “Deceptively Delicious” recipes and even used snot rags for little noses – but stories of spanking? Um.. NOT.A.CHANCE. Its the forbidden. Its the taboo. Its judgement.
Like most new moms, I did a lot of judging before I became a parent. There was a laundry list of things I'd never do and an even longer list of things I WOULD do. Clean the binky by SUCKING THE DIRT OFF?! Letting my baby “cry it out”?! Feed her formula?! Let her eat FRUIT SNACKS?! Uh-uh. No way. Not this mommy. Suffice to say, those particular philosophies went right out the window about the time I looked over to see my 2 year old playing with a “dangerous” plastic bag, sitting on a recalled toy and realizing she'd been entertaining HERSELF for 10 WHOLE MINUTES and so, naturally, I gave her ANOTHER plastic bag.
Like I hear my mom and her mom and her mom before her snickering over my 1am diatribe of confusion and guilt over ONE SPANK, I also hear the clicks of the “unfriend,” the “unfollow” and the “uninvited” that I WILL – mark my words – I WILL receive after having admitted that I spanked and that I'm not 100% certain that I will 'never do it again'. I will be judged.
As moms today, we're all carrying around these little secrets lest we be judged. We don't want to tell that our 4.5 year old still isn't potty trained, that we served Kraft mac & cheese for the 8th night in a row because we're too tired of the fight, we sometimes use the television as a babysitter and actually DON'T hate Dora, we fight in front of our kids, we leave them in the car to get the dry cleaning, we spank.
I'm scared of being judged and I think most moms are too. What's really unsettling for me though is that I think the hardest jury to sway, the harshest judge in the county is the one that's on the bench inside of me. She's throwing the book at me for every.single.mistake.
The crappy part about this is that all parenting seems to be, from my perspective, is one mistake, one stumble after another, in the hopes we stumble into something good.
I was in Hallmark around Mother's Day and found this card that said “Behind every great kid is a parent who thinks they're fucking it up”.
Hallmark greeting cards are usually spot-on so I can only hope that little Ruby turns out to be a 'great kid'. God knows I'm constantly fucking it up.