Being Mommy

Pain Reaction

I would like to think that my 17-month old daughter is a very obedient child. When I tell her not to go outside, she stays inside. When I tell her not do this or do that, she normally listens. Despite the fact that she doesn’t really talk yet, she definitely understands what mommy means. That, however, was not the case yesterday.

As I was preparing dinner, I sat her up on the counter like I normally do since she loves to help me prepare the veggies and what not. To keep her occupied, I cracked some eggs in a big bowl, put it in front of her, and handed her a single chopstick so she can help mommy “beat the eggs.” Now, I’m not quite sure why but I guess you could say she was feeling very mischievous at the moment. She was about to put the chopstick that contained raw eggs in her mouth until I said in a very firm tone “Rachel, no.” Usually, that’s all that’s needed for her to stop and not do it anymore. But for some reason, it was like she was testing her limits, she did it again. And once again, I went “Rachel, no.” Now this must’ve happened at least 10 times. She didn’t actually put it in her mouth but she would hold the chopstick close to her face and look at me, waiting for me to notice so I could, once again, tell her not to do it. Maybe she thought it was funny, maybe she thought I didn’t mean it. Who knows what goes on in the brain of a 17-month old. Clearly she was listening to me, but not listening to me (if that makes any sense). Strike one.

As my daughter was happily beating away at the eggs, I started slicing chicken breasts and putting it in a separate bowl to marinade. For some reason, my daughter decided that beating the eggs was now not enough activity for her. She poked the marinaded chicken with her egged chopstick and kept doing it despite the fact that I asked her to stop. And because there was nothing I can do (my hands had the stench of raw meat and I wasn’t done slicing the chicken), I let it slide. Strike two.

After slicing the chicken, I washed my hands so I can put her down on the floor. She was perfectly content not being on the counter anymore and went to play with her toys. Two minutes later, she returns and starts messing with the tupperware and dishes under the counter. At that time, I was preparing the marinade for the chicken and touching the raw meat again so I couldn’t physically move her but I told her several times to stop making a mess and go play with her toys. My words fell on deaf ears. She started taking the tupperware out one by one and throwing it on the floor, making a huge mess. I finished up what I was doing as fast as I can, washed my hands, and went to do what (I would think) every mother would do.

I smacked her bottom.

Now it wasn’t a painful smack. There was no redness, or bruising, or any evidance of what I did and I’m sure her diaper took most of the blow. I doubt it hurt that much or even at all. But my little baby certainly received the message I was trying to send. The next thing I know, she bursts into tears and throws up her hands asking for a hug. I didn’t want to waver in what was done. I wanted to be stern and follow through so I took her by the hands, pointed at each of the items she threw on the floor, and made her pick it up and hand it to me. She did this while still crying. After all of it was picked up (it took less 30 seconds), I picked her up and lovingly hugged her, and rocked her, and explained to her that this behavior will not be tolerated and she can’t just go around making a mess.

Now it wasn’t really that incident that got to me, it was more of what happened afterwards. From that one smack, it seemed like her whole world turned upside down. She wanted to be picked up and hugged right after it happened. As if she wanted me to reassure her that mommy still loves her. She needed constant closeness to me afterwards. When I put her down to sleep or for a nap, I used to be able to sneak away. She would open her eyes, see me leave, and go back to sleep. But ever since I hit her, she would need me close even when she’s sleeping. she would wake up when she feels me slipping away and just cry. I don’t know, maybe it’s the guilt from what I did. Maybe it’s because she’s (obviously) not used to getting punished since she’s a good baby 99% of the time.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.” That’s what I grew up believing. If you care about your children, you will punish them when they do something wrong. But now, in this day and age of attachment parenting, there are definitely kinder measures that can be taken. I know it’s a constant saying, but parenting definitely does not come with a handbook. They just come with a crap load of advice and tips from other parents and family members that think they know what it’s all about. But in the end, the way you raise your child is the way the child will be raised. Now I can’t guarantee that she won’t misbehave anymore, but I can definitely promise myself that next time I decide she needs a good spanking, I’ll remember this incident and her reaction after. And that will be reason enough for me to never raise my hand again (until she’s a crazy teenager).

Until next time,

Mrs. Uncle Bob

PS. Parenting tips greatly appreciated here!

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Dear Daughter, I’m Sorry For…

Guilt. It’s a feeling we all have at multiple points in our lives. But in all honesty, I feel as if I have more guilt now as a mother than I had before my little baby came into this world. There are so many things that I feel guilty about, so many things I would like to apologize for. But she’s too young and doesn’t understand what happened. She still smiles at me and doesn’t hold any grudges. I know she still loves me the way she wants me to hold her when she cries and the way she puts her arms around me when she’s ready to sleep. But as a mother, I can’t help but feel that I’m not good enough for her. I could have done this better or that differently. So many things run through my mind as I look at my beautiful daughter.

First of all, I want to apologize for the first night I took you home from the hospital. I wasn’t used to staying up most of the night caring for a nursing baby and the lack of sleep was getting to me. I thought your cries were cries of hunger when I should have checked your diaper to see that you made a stinky. The look of horror on my face and the way my heart dropped when I realized it in the morning made me feel like such a failure. The first night at your new home and I was already screwing up. I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt even though the poop in your diaper was no more than a smear of color.

I’m sorry you fell off the bed…twice. The first time, I was in the study room while you were sleeping on the bed. The sharp cry that echoed through the house made me jump to my feet and rush to your bedside. I turned the light on only to see you not on the bed. I immediately broke out in tears and rushed to pick you up. What’s worse about it was that there was a ladder next to the bed since your daddy was storing things in the attic and haven’t moved it yet. The leg of the ladder was on your neck and I had no idea what to think. I didn’t know if you got a cut there or if you were choking or if you were crying just from the shock of it all. I picked you up and texted your father right away telling him I’m bringing you to the ER. He called me and told me to check if you were fine, which you were. But still I sat there crying and feeling like such a failure.

The second time you fell off the bed was, in my opinion, preventable. So many what ifs in that situation. What if your daddy and I didn’t get into an argument and what if we were in the bedroom instead of the living room hashing it out. What if we just dropped it and went to bed. But those what ifs were too late when we heard a thump in the bedroom when we were in the middle of talking it out. We didn’t hear you cry but rushed into the bedroom anyways only to see you on the floor, wide-eyed and awake where you were once sleeping soundly on the bed. Pillows in both cases did not help. You’ve learned to crawl over it in your sleep. The only thing that could block you was me or your daddy sleeping next to you. But yes, the guilt we felt was a hundred times more than the shock you must’ve felt when you fell. So for that, dear child, I’m very sorry.

I’m sorry for the time you hit your head on the coffee table. You were just learning how to walk with the help of grasping onto furniture. You were just walking along while I was sitting right behind you. You lost your grip on the table with one hand and fell, your cheek hitting the bottom level of the table where we keep our random magazines and toys. I was right behind you and saw the whole thing. It was as if you were falling in slow motion but it happened so fast I didn’t have time to catch you. The bruise on your beautiful face was enough for me to swear to be a buffer between you and any hard objects that surrounded you for the rest of your life. But the way you smiled after the pain subsided alleviated my feeling of guilt. You got back up and continued with what you were doing as if nothing ever happened at all. That moment made me feel proud of what a brave baby girl you’re becoming.

I’m sorry for letting strangers…well only one or two (so far) pinch your cheeks. You are just so adorable with those chipmunk cheeks that random moms and grandmas will come up to me to tell me what a cute baby I have. Most are respectful and will keep a good distance away. But one grandma at a laundromat touched your cheeks while playing with you and another lady who had a young son pinched it while telling me how cute you are. I don’t think it’s a horribly big deal but I don’t know where their hands have been. If you grow up to be a clean freak, I hope you’ll forgive me. I’ll try my best to be more assertive next time and tell people “please do not touch my baby.” I just don’t want to seem like a mean mommy b!tch when someone’s trying to compliment me on my outstanding genes for creating such a lovable offspring.

I’m sorry for that time at the grocery store when a lady mistook you for a baby boy. She was an old lady who said I had a handsome son. I didn’t have the heart to correct her so I just said “thank you” and went on with the rest of my shopping trip. We don’t want to pierce your ears as a baby and we buy gender neutral clothes just in case we give you a brother in the future so it’s hard for people to tell if you’re a girl or boy. I’ve purchased ribbons and bows for your hair since that incident so people would know your gender. But still, I’m sorry for not correcting her when she called you a boy.

Of all the things to be sorry for, I’m most sorry that this world is filled with so much pain and hurt and disappointment and there’s no way to shield you from all of it. I can’t protect you from everything, but I’ll definitely try my best to. And in the rare occasion that mommy can’t save you from the world, I promise to arm you with a strong heart and a loving spirit. For even if the world is cruel to you, does not mean that you can’t reciprocate with gentleness and kindness. I hope that as I guide you in this journey called life, I’ll teach you how to love and how to live. How to let go of negative things and hold on to happiness. I hope to teach you to always believe in yourself and never underestimate what you’re capable of achieving. In this big world, you might be just a drop of water in the ocean, but that drop, when it enters the ocean, can have a rippling effect that lasts for miles and miles. I hope to help you face this world with confidence, strength, and courage. Raising you and watching you grow up, there’s no rewind button or take-backs. So as you get older, if I haven’t instilled these qualities in you, well, that would be something I’m very, very sorry for.

The list for this can go on and on. But one day, if you ever find this (or if I tell you about it) and you’re interested enough to come and read it, just know that I love you. I love you with a love that I didn’t know could exist. A love that started the day I found out you were in my womb being formed and created. I can’t promise you that you’ll never feel another bump on your head or a scrape on your knee. I can’t guarantee that your heart will never be broken. But I can promise you that I’ll be there to kiss away all the tears. I promise to be there when you need guidance, when you need laughter, and when you need tough love. I also promise to walk away when it’s necessary, even if it pains my heart. You are my first-born and I am a new mother who hasn’t had much experience with this parental thing at all. But just know that I tried my absolute best and if it wasn’t good enough, well, I’m sorry…