Posted on | January 20, 2012 | 16 Comments
Last night, I got frustrated with my son. He wouldn’t go to sleep, wouldn’t stop talking, wouldn’t stop asking for “just one more hug, Momma.” And there was basketball to be watched, and dishes to wash and floors to clean and a mound of laundry that needed sorting and washing and well, you get the picture. I had things to do. I had things I’d rather be doing than lying next to my very sleepy son and telling him for the fiftieth time that no, it was not time to get up.
But I laid there until he fell asleep, listening as his breathing slowed to a soft inhale and exhale of dreams… because that’s what I do. I’m his mother. He’s my world.
This morning, I woke up when a small, two year old leg kicked me in the face. He was still asleep, just trying to get closer to me, trying to worm his way just a tiny bit closer to the warmth on my side of the bed. Because that’s what he does… he’s two. I’m his world.
And not for the first time, I wondered what kind of person intentionally hurts a child. I wondered, as I lifted his leg and tucked it back on his side of the bed, what it takes to believe that hitting your child is the right answer, the right solution, the right punishment. I’m not a spanker. I was never spanked when I was a child and I have a hard time believing that spanking is ever the proper solution to any problem.
If you remember, I popped J on the leg last summer. I wrote about it once. I did it several times. But you know what? I popped him because I was stressed and sad and tired. I popped him because that was the easiest thing I could think of to do. I popped his little leg because I didn’t have the energy to explain to him, again, that what he was doing was wrong. And I think that’s what spanking boils down to. I think that spanking is the easy way out, the quick solution, the “mute” button of parenting.
It’s easy to lash out.
It’s easy to spank and pop and move on.
And you know what? Parenting is not supposed to be easy.
I do not believe it is possible to teach my child how to handle the problems that life will throw at him with dignity and grace if I resort to the easy way out when I am faced with a problem. I do not believe that I can pop and spank and threaten violence towards my child and hope to raise anything other than a son who believes that when all else fails, resort to swinging punches.
It’s easy to pop him on his leg when he kicks me. It’s hard to explain to him why kicking is wrong.
It’s easy to pop his hand when he takes a toy or hits a friend. It’s hard to walk him through the right way to deal with his frustration and anger.
I don’t want to take the easy way out when it comes to parenting. I don’t want my hands to do anything other than soothe and love and care for my son… I don’t want my hands to ever be a source of fear or a threat of punishment.
So as I lay there and moved J’s little leg again and again from my face or neck or the space between my arm and the bed, I reminded myself that this is what I do. This is my most important job. This is the person I never want to let down. I cuddled him close and whispered to him that I love him, kissing the tip top of his curly head and praying, as I so often do, for more patience with him. Because I don’t want to take the easy way out.
This is the kind of parent I am to my child. You can be whatever kind of parent you choose to be. But as for me? I’m J’s mother.
And he’s too important to me to take the easy way out.