Last night, as I laid beside Elliott for his last milk feed for the day, I wept. I wept because I felt like the world’s worst mother (WWM for short – this will appear a few times in this entry so let’s just save everyone’s time). I started to think that maybe, we took such a long and ardous journey to become parents because Some Divine Being Somewhere knew that I’d be a crap mother so Some Divine Being Somewhere decided to not let us be parents for a while. Maybe it was a fluke that we became parents because you know…fluke.
I felt like the WWM because I smacked Elliott’s hands for tipping his milk from his bottle onto the cloth sofa. 10 seconds before, he was playing with the light switch (repeatedly) in the living room and already, my patience was wearing very thin. It had been a long day and I was exhausted. Not that it is an excuse but I am relating it as it is.
Yes, I just confessed to smacking my child’s hand. Please don’t call child services.
It wasn’t the first time I have smacked his hand. Every single time I did it, I would be consumed with enough guilt to eat me up twice over and would vow to myself to never, ever hit him again because hitting IS WRONG. This little incident also jolted me into stopping this smacking-hands business.
He was up to his usual curious mischief and for the life of me, I cannot remember what it was that he was doing. It was probably (1) climbing onto the dining table (2) flicking the light switch repeatedly (3) sticking his hand into Moon’s water bowl (4) placing his hand between the open fridge door (5) a combination of items (1) to (4).
I said in a stern voice: “ELLIOTT. STOP IT. What did Mummy say?“(The answer is: Mummy says “no no“. And depending on severity of action, that “no no” may be followed by a quick smack on his errant hand.)
My child stopped in his tracks, looked at me with his innocent eyes, shook his hand and said “no no“. He then proceeded to use one hand to smack his other hand. Repeatedly.
My heart broke at that instance.
My child was mimicking me. He was repeating my actions.
So I swore to myself that I will control my frustration and anger. To count to 10 before reacting. To tell him calmly that he should not play with the light switch for the 200th time (today). To, basically, not hit my child.
A couple of months went by and I must say that I did pretty decently. When he acted up, I remained cool, breathed (very very very deeply), and managed to steer him away from whatever it was that was dangerous. The distraction tactic.
But last night, I lost it. I forgot that vow to myself. Again.
Which is why I felt like the WWM because I knew that I reacted out of frustration and tiredness. In fact, it happened so quickly, I did not even have time to think before reacting. And the result of that smack?
Elliott bawled. Very loudly.
It was probably from the shock of the smack, and not from knowing that he did something wrong. Which is why I keep reminding myself that smacking does not work because I honestly don’t think it gets through to him. Or does it?
You know that phrase about how “it will get easier” (when they are older)? That’s such a misnomer. Yes, he is sleeping through the night. Yes, he is eating (a bit). Yes, he is a milk monster. Yes, he is generally a happy and friendly child.
But does it really get…easier? I don’t think so. Not on many other aspects.
Like, disciplining your child. This whole gentle parenting business is doing my head in because as much as I try, it is so damn hard. This parenting business? Tough as sh*t.
And that other saying about how our kids make us better people? That is definitely (a lot of) work in progress for me. But I will work damn hard on it.