The Behind Of Every Great Kid...is probably red.

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.Spanked.My.Child.


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.

13 Response to "The Behind Of Every Great Kid...is probably red."

workinprogress Says:

Standing ovation from me!!! You have just described motherhood perfectly!

Lee Ann Says:

Do you see me lookin' at you---with these cold eyes of judgement? Ahahaha! I get the stink-eye from moms when I have my one year old on my hip and my 3 year old on a leash. Whatever!

Gilly Says:

Sister, I commend you! I wouldn't say I spank (well...not my kids, anyway *wink*) but I have, indeed, spanked. For the most part, I think my kids are well enough behaved that they haven't really earned spanks. However, they certainly know what they are, and if threatened with them, they know mummy's not messing around. I'm a big fan of counting, myself. And if they don't know that something serious is going to happen when I hit #3, then what's the point. What I've found, and it really only works when they're a bit older and have real favourite things, is taking stuff away. For instance, taking away video games is a threat that earns howls of anguish at the mere mention. So I've got that working for me. Thanks gods!

I too had parents that spanked (we had a bamboo switch that they kept on top of the fridge. Ouch!) and smoked in the car with us, and a mother who yelled and screamed and told me, after we went to the theatre to see "Annie" and I expressed my desire to be an actress at 10, that "they don't let fat little girls be in movies". So I figure no matter what I'm messing up personally in my journey of child rearing, I'm doing better that that. But then again...they're only 10 and 4. Plenty of time to completely fuck it up.

And now I must go tend to a puking child. For realz. Ugh.

All the love!!!!

Heather Says:

Good for you! I think that kids need to at least think that you will spanking if their behavior warrants it. I personally see what happens of kids are not disciplined every day in my job. It is a sad sight to see these kids who can do whatever they want and no one will ever tell them no because they are afraid that child services might take there kids away. I tell you this, the ones that are worried that child services will take the kids away aren't the parents of the kids that need taken away. The ones that are taken are the ones that weren't wanted in the first place. And as I always tell my kids if they threaten calling DCFS. Go ahead and call because if they take you away I get a VACATION!

Kristin Says:

Preach it! Like everyone, I was an excellent - superb - parent before I had children. Now I'm just some poor slob trying to get through the day with the same number of kids I had yesterday. I used to read the mommy boards religiously, but I lost my taste for the fighting coming from people who were terrified of screwing up their kids and who manifested that terror by raking everyone else across the coals. Because there can only be ONE right solution to every situation! And the one I choose is clearly the correct solution! HOW DARE YOU QUESTION ME.

I've spanked. It's one of many parenting tools I've used, along with encouragement and praise and star charts. I actually think if you've done it a few times, the looming possibility is as much of a deterrent as the actual spanking.

Hang in there. I think you're doing it right.

Liz Says:

I am not a parent, and am sooooo not ready to be one, haha. But I am ALL IN FAVOR of spanking. I was spanked (quite often) as a chil, and have the best relationship with my parents out of all of my friends. Spanking taught me to behave, if for no other reason than my brain said "Hmm, last time I did this thing that mom doesn't want me to do...I got spanked. I do not like being spanked, therefore, I should not do this thing..." It only took about 20 times to stick ;-)

I think there's a big difference between spanking and "abuse", and people need to just chill out!

Thanks for this great post... :)

Jen Says:

Love your posts, as always. Are you a journalist? I feel like I'm reading an exclusive online journal. (Duh, I AM) This comment is lame compared to your amazing writing skills, but I wanted to say that we are ALL f-ing it up. And someday, they'll thank us for it. B/C the joke is, they won't know any different. It's AMAZING. And we all sit and worry about it. But I don't know what it was like to be raised by parents who didn't spank (with the Belt) or who didn't smoke in the car, or who told me they loved me, but I know they did the best that they could and they cared about me. And they are wonderful parents. TO ME. I have spanked both of my girls (or swatted when they were little) and it only took once for them to knock off what they were doing. My girls are 14 and 12 respectively, and they have grown into amazing kids, I haven't had to spank them in at least 5 years. But that's not b/c they are amazing kids, it's b/c they started acquiring electronics that I could take away. Sounds like it's time to get your baby a cell phone!!!! lol!

Read Says:

My husband and I decided we were finally ready to have kids when we had a shared epiphany... No matter what we do, how well we prepare, how many things we read... we will fuck it up some how and our kids will absolutely positively need therapy because of it. So.. eh, let's go ahead and have them.

We fuck it up on a regular basis - I think it's the ones that think they've got it all under control that we have to worry about. I've spanked both my boys and would do it again. But so far it seems the mere fact that I threatened to do it and then actually followed through on the threat made all future threats that much more meaningful. The threat now, delivered in that dead serious tone that only mom's can get, seems to be plenty. (at least at the moment.)

You go! I always always always love your posts!

Ashley Says:

As usual I agree with everything you said! I spanked my one year old once already so I know I'm doomed. It was more like a pat, but I have kept that dirty secret all to myself for all this time (a few weeks, but still).

Southern Belle Says:

I thought this post was so funny. I of course have no children but I don't think you will go straight to he** for spanking your child. And I don't believe in any way, shape or form that you are screwing it up. Thanks for the laughs funny girl!

Rahshell Says:

Spanking is part of the life cycle man, you haven't lived until you've spanked/been spanked! I spank when necessary, I've promised myself that I won't go overboard like my mom did but ass will be beat in this house :) The aftermath of our own judgement seems to be the worst part.

Stephanie Says:

My mother had wooden spoon that would appear out of nowhere and land on my ass faster than you could even say wooden spoon. Did I turn out horribly? Well, that is still in debate, but honestly I've spanked Sarah before and if it warrants it, I'd do it again. My mom is just waiting for the day that she can break out the letter I wrote, signed and dated when I was 16 stating that I would NEVER ground my daughter or put her on phone restriction when I was a parent. I can hear her and her wooden spoon laughing already.

You're a great mom. I served my daughter Publx fried chicken 2 nights in a row this week for dinner. It was on sale. Screw the food pyramid!!

Meredith Says:

haha! you and me both girl. i figure if my kids alive and quiet i'm pretty much the best mom ever;)

YOURS, MINE AND OURS

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