“why did you do that? Why? Why? Why? I’m going to thpank you!.. yeow! Ptew! Woosh!”
“nooooo, I’m sowwieee, don’t thpank me!”
“I’m gonna thpank you! Yeow! Pew!”
That was my daughter’s play time. Mommy dinosaur was spanking baby dinosaur. I sat down on the floor and sobbed.
Ever since my kid turned 22 months, she turned into a full-time Bergen (see Trolls for reference) that seemed tied up in thorns and thistles. There have been so many emotional roller coasters I could open an amusement park that even Disneyland would be jealous. I was angry at her temper tantrums. I was angry she wouldn’t listen. So I did what some parents do, I used a last resort discipline method: spanking. I would justifiably do it, then I would feel guilty, and then I’d get over it. Then back to anger, then spanking, then guilt, then over it, then angry again. This cycle was confusing, aggravating and depressing. Not just for me, but especially for my daughter. I would confess to my husband as to a priest.
My husband is the kind of dad that makes me want to go back in time when God was thinking of my existence, and ask Him to let me be his kid. That’s weird; but you get the point. He really is an intentionally good father to our almost-three-year-old: he will play with her, explain things to her, build things with her, make jokes up, make stories up, plot my destruction with her, give her baths, wipe her buttocks, etc. Heck, he even wants to learn how to braid her hair. It is obvious he loves her to pieces in so many wonderful ways that, for a woman with daddy issues (that’s me), it’s not only comforting but also hot. Yep, I have the hots for my husband partly because he’s 99% of the father I prayed he would be. Thank you, Jesus! PRAISE THE LORD!
As for me……boy, oh boy! I’m short-tempered, I am prone to violence, and I am emotionally immature which makes me feel very strongly. About everything. About anything. I can switch from warmly serving you an avocado toast to hatefully wanting to punch you in the face faster than you can say “Happy Sabbath!”
But then it happened three months ago, about the same time with the mommy and baby dinosaurs playtime, that I spent some time with other mommies at this thing Adventists call Camp Meeting. These were the kind of moms that you’d ask them to adopt you. And I felt guilt.
Guilt sucks royally but, if used right, guilt moves you into action. And so, I did. The guilt from saying and thinking violent things made me think twice about who I was and how I parent.
We were packing to go home and I was recovering from a horrible bug that had me tied to my bed and/or a toilet. That’s when my girl ‘playfully’ kicked me in the stomach. Rage took over me within a millisecond and then I slapped her bear thigh and said: we don’t hit.
And then it hit me….
I’m telling her we don’t hit as I had just hit her. WHAT.IN THE WORLD? I felt guilt for that double standard; I felt guilt that for the past eight months I had been so angry at her. I’ve been so angry and scary at times that I could see her drifting away from me little by little. She was so scared that it finally made her not want to trust me with her feelings but go to her dad or others when she felt strongly about everything. About anything.
Here’s the thing – I’m not against spanking or expressing anger. What I’m against is using those nukes for anything other than a World War III- like situation. I was using it for any little dispute. Which was soul destroying because…
My name is Laura Lucio and I’m addicted to violence.
Three months ago I decided to NEVER spank my child again. Furthermore, I decided to never yell and scream at my child again. It’s been life-changing. I made the decision to quit violence and here’s my two cents:
- Childhood trauma isn’t a reason for bad choices. I stopped using it as a pretext.
Having a crappy childhood shouldn’t be ignored but shouldn’t be used as an excuse for taking my anger out with violence. I mean… if you cut your finger, you’re going to disinfect and put a bandaid on it and you’re good to go in less than a week. But if you get your fingers stuck in a meat slicer, you’re going to lack a lot of blood, need an ER trip and the healing will take months of bandage change, treating the wound over and over, monitoring it for infections and so forth. Beating the table or… your husband for it won’t help. Also, you might want to consider an avocado toast instead of baloney.
- I treated it like any other rehab program: I took it one day at a time, I stopped cold turkey, I went through all the 12 steps of recovery: admission, belief, decision to change, self-assessment, got a support group, prayed, humbled myself in front of God and my daughter, made amends, etc.
- I found ways to have a steadier state of emotions: antidepressants, supplements, working out, walking away, reading, music therapy, etc. Find what works for YOUR healing. But I, again, recall the image of fingers stuck in a meat slicer. If that was me, I’d be so loud about wanting pain meds, that the whole hospital would hear me. So just like I take Tylenol for a headache (or chamomile tea or whatnot), I had to take something for my emotional hurt.
- I prioritized: my relationship with my daughter is more important than any addiction. I had to recover.
- I became more creative: banning spanking as a way of discipline has given way to a lot of creativity with my parenting and disciplining.
I am ashamed that I even have to write this piece. Nobody wants to admit to addiction. And when you have a small child, especially admit addiction to violence. I’d rather play the victim role than the perpetrator. This may not be your case. You may not spank out of addiction. But if you do, you have a problem. Acknowledge it before you breed another generation of violence… like I almost did.
Three months later, my daughter’s personality has flourished unimaginably. Heck, three months later, MY personality has flourished unimaginably. We’ve always been fun and loved on. My girl has always been read to, roared to, cuddled with, played with, thought of and so forth. But the quality of our relationship is incomparable. The quality of our lives has improved. Quitting addiction is worthwhile and rewarding. I love my life. I hope you love yours too.
I’ve always been addicted to violence. But it took a two-year-old to finally get me to admit it and make a change. And I’m thankful for it.