This is hard for me to talk about. Especially on a day that was supposed to be filled with rainy thunderstorms and is instead filled with sunshine and pleasant, well-behaved, loving children. But I want to come completely clean.
I have had a strong desire to hit my kids. On more than one occasion. Many more.
It is so horrible to see that in black and white. But it is the truth. And if I am keeping honest chronicles about my experience as a mother, this is part of it.
My husband and I spoke at length about this before having kids. We both felt strongly that we did not want to hit our kids. We put plans in place about how to deal with misbehavior. We did research. We made pacts. We made this decision together and concretely.
However, I had NO IDEA how difficult it would be to stay on the non-violent path. No idea.
Kids know how to push buttons. There is the not listening. The defiance. The eye-rolling. (It does not just afflict teenagers, folks!) The stomping. The slamming. The yelling. The crying over silly things. The begging. The grabbing. The pouring of liquids. The pouring of solids. The emission of gases. The hitting. (Yes, their hitting makes me want to hit them and say ‘No hitting!’ Figure that one out.) The kicking. The stubbornness. The refusal to go to bed. The refusal to eat. The refusal to go. The refusal to come. The temper tantrums.
And the apex of all things that make me want to lose my mother effing sh*t?
I know that this is all on me. I am the adult and the mother and I know better. They are just kids being kids. Just trying to figure it all out. Trying to learn how to be good little people and live happy and productive lives. They are supposed to test, in order to learn. And it is my job to guide, support and love them.
I do my absolute best each and every day. But honestly, some days are harder than others.
One night, before Xavi was born, I was trying to get Carlitos to go to bed. My husband has been getting his graduate degree after work ever since we moved to NYC, so this was a night that he had class. I was alone with Carlitos and he had been refusing to go to sleep for almost an hour. I had nobody to pass him to. No way to take the break that I needed to cool off.
And then he started laughing. This little, barely three-year-old started laughing defiantly in my face. If I was a cartoon, my eyes would have bulged out of my head with asterisks and exclamation points drawn on them, my face would have been beet red and steam would have been pouring out of my ears.
I was livid.
After shutting the door, (let’s be honest, I probably slammed it), I called my parents. I didn’t know what else to do. My dad answered and while holding back tears I asked him how to not hit your kids.
Dad, how do I keep from hitting Carlitos. I’m going out of my mind. He won’t go to sleep and I’m all alone and I feel like I am about to hit him.
How horrid is that?
Luckily, my dad was able to calm me down and I don’t even remember much after that. I know that I didn’t hit Carlitos. But I have no recollection of how he ended up finally falling asleep. In the perpetual Murphy’s Law that is parenthood, it probably happened on his own while I was on the phone figuring out how to get him to sleep without using physical force.
Shockingly, it hasn’t gotten calmer with two boys. I know, it truly is surprising, right?
The other day I found myself swatting Xavi on the butt. I am pretty sure I actually said the words “Don’t hit!” as I did it. Is that not the dumbest thing you have ever heard?
He had been hitting and biting me all day. Usually he just swipes at my face when he is upset or angry and can’t express why. But then he close-fist punched me in the nose. It really hurt and I just didn’t hold it together any longer. (Please notice that I said ‘didn’t’ and not ‘couldn’t’ – I understand it is on me to keep my cool no matter what.) I do have to say I managed not to do it hard, but I still reacted all the same – I smacked his butt. (Thankfully through sweatpants and a diaper)
My hands – in anger – have still never come in contact with either of my children’s flesh. I have yet to spank, slap or hit.
But I swatted Xavi’s butt harder than a love tap. I have put them both in their Time Out chair more forcefully than is necessary. I have held on tighter than they wished to their wrists while reprimanding them. And I have called my parents to prevent myself from truly hitting them because I was *that* close to doing it.
This is my truth. (In the wise words of Carlitos.)
Thanks for letting me share.