In my childhood, I always thought it was easy for my parents to dish out punishment. They made it seem so easy. There were a couple of times in my life when my mom whispered sadly, “This will hurt me more than it will hurt you,” but come on! Southern parents like to say that, and then they proceed to spank you anyway, seemingly gleefully. As kids, we would joke that if it hurt them so badly, why did they do it?
I could go on about spankings. How I feel about them now greatly differs from how I was raised and how I thought I would feel about them as a parent. But tonight…tonight was a discipline night, and now I truly get how it could hurt my mom to punish us.
N is about two and a half now, and she’s a smart little cookie. My husband and I came to the realization tonight that she is pooping in her pull-up/panties at home by choice. She has flawless potty days at school and when she was with the babysitter two nights ago, she asked to go poop in the potty. She knows what to say and what to do. She can take herself to the potty and wipe pretty well for a two year old. So when she stunk up the house tonight with her giant pull-up full of poo, we were upset and knew we had to do something drastic. So we sent her straight to bed.
Ooooo, big punishment! Yes, I hear your jeers. But N’s bedtime routine is a sacred ritual. Whether it is me or my husband, we read her a story (or two or three), she picks her bedtime music, we say prayers, turn off the lights, and then she curls up in my lap and drifts peacefully to sleep while I recount stories of my childhood. This is a precious ending to both of our days, and it is just her time. No baby. Just N time. I knew we had to do something drastic to get across to her that pooping in her pull-up is not okay, but this punishment of going straight to bed alone was almost more than I could bear.
N cried forever…
For the first few minutes, James and I just sat in our room staring at each other. If Baby J hadn’t been asleep in my arms, I probably would have caved, fled to N’s room and showered her with hugs, kisses, and apologies. But I had to be strong. Her cries became more and more desperate, and every time she pleaded “Momma”, my heart plummeted even further. As tears began to fall down my own face, James intervened. He offered me strength, a nightcap, and adult conversation. We worked on our summer and Christmas vacation plans to the painful symphony of N’s gut-wrenching sobs.
Soon forever passed, and all was quiet.
James admits that he was quite surprised by my choice of punishment, and hopefully it was worth it. We’ll see tomorrow. I know she will survive and will still love and need me, but this glimpse of life on the other side of discipline was brutal. I always thought I would be the strict parent, but I must build a stronger stomach if I’m going to help us raise (and not hinder us from raising) these two girls properly. Even though it does hurt more, I have to adjust to being on the other side of discipline now.