here’s the math: i have spanked him four times in his four years. three times happened in his third year; the year, not surprisingly, that we added a second child to our family, my stress increased multifold, and i experienced a vicious post partum depression. the fourth time occurred this year, his fourth year, just a couple of months ago.
the first three times, i felt out of control. i was at my limit and it was reactive. i yelled and screamed as it happened. it felt surreal doing it, like i was out of my body and it wasn’t even me who was responsible for it. i was though, even if it was a version of myself that was impaired; the deficient model. he knew too. he could see me through that mess and he pointed at me, stern faced, and (rightly) told me off each time. i tried to shake the guilt and told myself that they were isolated incidents, rare and atypical occurrences situated in a imperfect context. i tried to forgive myself so i could move on, get back to baseline: the place where i’m a skilled parent.
the last time (meant in more ways than one), i actually chose to spank him. he was the one out of control, he was putting his brother at risk in the tub, and i had had enough. out he came and a quick spank was delivered to reinforce the point.
he whipped his head around at me in horror and i saw the shock, fear, and betrayal in his eyes. before he turned to scream at me, i also saw the mark that the sting of my fingers left on his bath-damp bare bottom. “you shouldn’t of done that momma, that wasn’t nice!”, he braved from the doorway.
later, when he came to address it with me in conversation, apparently the more mature of the two of us that day, he made the real point worth making: “momma, that hurt my heart“.
i’ve never been a subscriber to the rhetoric that spanking is a useful or effective strategy. in my opinion, spanking is a lazy, impulsive, and hostile way to communicate and discipline. i’ve done it, but i know that there is always a better way. the best way is never again and i am capable of that. i can be better; my best. i can do that for him.
his heart is not to be hurt. surely not by me.