I’m a horrible mother. My kid’s four and I’ve already messed her up. It all started when I read this Dr. Sears article on spanking. In it, he says that violence begets violence; spanking doesn’t work; it sends the message that it’s ok for strong people to hurt weak people; and that kids who are spanked believe they are bad inside. It convinced me to stop spanking my daughter.
I never felt so ashamed as I did after reading that article. I have spanked my daughter, when she was acting so badly I just didn’t know what else to do. Like when she smashed her brother’s head into the wall. Like when she kicked him in the face. Like when she kept kicking her door in the middle of a tantrum. I did it in anger. I hurt her. And the article said that’s the worst thing to do.
“I want to whisper something,” my daughter says, as we’re getting ready to leave preschool.
“What?” I say, leaning my ear down to her level.
“Can I have a play date with Emma?”
“Ummm…we’ll see,” I say.
Normally, I would say, “Sure, I’ll set something up,” but, although Emma’s very nice, I do not like her mom and the feeling’s mutual.
“Bye-bye!” I said, waving at my toddler.
“Ba! Ba! Ba!” he said, waving.
Finally! I’ve been waiting for this kid to talk for seventeen months. Well, really more like eight months, since his sister talked at nine months. She truly was, and is, a prodigy. They have the same genes – seriously, they look exactly alike. Why wouldn’t I expect her brother to be just like her?
Still focused on my daughter’s lunch, I took the phone. “This is the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department.”
I squeezed a handful of chicken nuggets. My hometown police. This was it. My dad fell asleep at the wheel and wrapped himself around a tree. Worse, he killed someone. Oh God.
I never had to get to know my first mom. That was all done for me. I met her as a baby, and she took it from there. But 41 years later, I had to get to know my birth mom, and that process was a lot different. She didn’t have the advantage of nursing me through midnight feedings, soothing my teething gums or changing thousands of diapers. But this week I gave her a chance to kiss a big boo-boo, and I’m glad I did.
Two weeks ago, I had knee surgery. My husband, Matt, cared for me the first five days, then my birth mother, Yvonne, flew in from New York to take over. Her timing was good, because after five days with the kids, and no help from me, my husband was just pretending to be sane.