Sunday, November 20, 2011

Laid Low

Self righteousness is a double edged sword. On one side it's great, because you're right, and everyone likes to be right. On the other side, you tend to be so right that you're willing to be a complete asshole to prove it.

The Husband and I had been animatedly discussing discipline methods for Henry. Henry is so active and so adventurous that, even in our fairly Henry-proof home, he is an accident waiting to happen. He spent much of the afternoon seeing what kind of damage he could do to the Christmas decorations.

After the millionth time redirecting him from the tree, The Husband said "Maybe you should just smack his hand." He said it with the same inflection that you might say 'maybe you should wear the blue sweater' or, 'maybe I'll get a latte'. But there is probably nothing I feel so strongly about, so surely about, so self righteously about, as corporal punishment. I believe with all my heart that physical punishment has no place in our home. Period.

And so at the mere offhanded mention of it (by a man who has never laid a hand on our children), I became incensed. Partly because I do feel very strongly about it, but mostly because I was angry and embarrassed at the suggestion that my superior parenting was not working. I felt judged, and found lacking. There is no better way to hide embarrassment and confusion than behind anger. Particularly self righteous anger.

I am, sadly, very human.

So the next time Henry went after something he shouldn't (in this case it was a plug and an outlet), I let my anger guide me. I smacked his hand.

In the fury of self righteousness, I did the very thing I so adamantly opposed. I took my anger toward my husband out on my child to prove a point.

To prove a fucking point.

There is nothing that will lay you so low as shame. So ashamed was I that I continued to argue the point and bow out my chest and stick out my chin as if what I had done held merit because of the misguided spirit in which it was intended. All of this in front of my mother, and my children, and my husband, whose disappointment was so painfully evident.

As I sit here writing this, I am nursing Henry to sleep. My trangression against him was instantly forgiven. My girls will have moved on by morning, if they haven't already. My mom and the Husband, having experienced several decades of me showing my ass, will forgive and forget by this time tomorrow. But I won't forget.

The problem with self righteousness is it's tendency to stick to your self.


  1. This was clearly a full half hour episode allowing for commercial breaks. I think as parents a primary desire is to make sure our children survive and at the same time balance that out with "protecting our stuff issues". There are times both of my twenty something year olds need spanked!

  2. What a brave post. We all have these less than glamorous moments. The rest of us just walk around acting like ours don't stink. Thank you for this.

  3. I think there is a difference between a light smack on the hand and spanking / slapping / shaking / etc. This was a very brave and thoughtful post, but don't beat yourself up too much about it (no pun intended). Apparently I bit my sister when I was a kid, and my mom bit me back (and I think this is similar to something you blogged about with pinching). From what you wrote, I'm guessing that if he cried, it was just surprise or shock and not actual pain. [Hugs]

  4. Thank you. <3 More than the actual act, it was the spirit in which it was administered. I would forgive myself quickly had it been a reactionary thing. It was the fact that I used it as a way to take out my anger on someone else that was so very jerky. The right or wrong of corporal punishment is up for debate, but discipline in any form that is done out of anger and spitefulness is never right. All that said, this is bringing me down. I need to write something funny about poop, lol..

  5. I don't believe in corporal punishment, either. It's disrespectful, lazy parenting, and while hitting children might get them to comply, it does so by instilling fear of the parent, rather than respect for doing what's right. I never quite get how pro-spanking parents can justify the use of physical punishment--while at the same time trying to teach their kids not to hit people.

    All that being said, you exhibited simple human fallibility. Even moms are allowed to be people. {{{hugs}}}

  6. I will look forward to your poop post just as much as I look forward to the other ones! ;o)

  7. Children are resilient and forgiving, and they learn by watching us. You have to know that your child knows that you feel that you made a mistake, and they will learn from that...that's it okay to be human, that we have regrets, that we apologize, that we learn not to do some things again, that anger is something that can get out of hand. Your child will be fine. Forgive yourself. It's what your child would do. (I also appreciate your bravery in sharing this with us)

  8. "The problem with self righteousness is it's tendency to stick to your self."

    So true, so very, very true. I think we've all been there, just not all of us are self-aware and brave enough to admit it.