Thursday, May 16, 2013

The different ways we raise children

Last night at work I was helping my client change his clothes which entails pulling this big thick leather belt with his big cowboy buckle attached to the front, out of his pants and threading it through his clean jeans... I am an in-home caregiver working with a very disabled man, least anyone think I am dressing and undressing men as my "clients" for any other monetary reasons.

As I held that belt I had this picture of when I was little. I haven't thought about any of this in years, many many years. But holding that belt I could feel my dad's belt. Big thick leather, big buckle on the front. Heavy. It was touching that belt, holding it, the actual feeling of that leather that triggered a memory. Not a deeply buried subconscious memory....just a regular old hanging around in the back of my head memory.

How many of us got "spanked" with belts? I sure did. With little regard for aim he would start swinging. As I stood there holding that man's belt in my hand, it occurred to me how unfathomable it was to hit a child with it. Who could ever be ok with doing that?

I know that times are very different now. Back in the days of my little girl years, that was more acceptable. It was frowned upon if you didn't spank your kids and keep them in line. We have learned new ways to do things now....some are more effective, some aren't. But thank the Lord that the focus is more on teaching and guiding then beating the hell fire from them.

I remembered feeling like I was so bad because I was always getting spanked. They were always mad. In that moment of holding that belt and thinking about hitting kids with it and how utterly sickening that thought was, it made me aware that the problem hadn't been me. I was no worse than any other little girl. Probably a heck of a lot better as I was always walking on egg shells trying to be good enough to not ruffle any feathers and not get anyone "going."

That moment came out of nowhere and it was another chipping away of old stuff. Stuff I can let go of. It was God saying, "That was never what I wanted for you." I feel like the layers of the old yuk are getting thinner and thinner and falling away more easily.

I realized I haven't spoken of my dad here in my blog. Ever I don't think. He is gone now, but maybe I will write more. He was something....."a son of a gun" my mom used to call him. Among other things. lol

For the record....I wasn't a hitter, but I was a yeller. Yelling is hitting without touching anyone. One of my deep regrets is that my kids probably have the memory of me always being angry years ago. I have changed now and they are grateful, I have made amends numerous times, and they are gracious, forgiving. They say they remember our home as being such a safe and solid place to be, they say they remember me yelling, but it was no different than any other mother. Maybe it just felt different to me, to my insides. But in my mind the damage was done. They can forgive and work their way through it, I know. But I wish I had done it differently. I wish I knew then what I know now. I came to mothering so ill-equipped. I read tons of books on birthing, nursing, and parenting. I wanted to "do it right." My desire for perfection was part of my problem....I could never get it right *enough* and I spent those years being so frustrated at my self for not being able to pull it off the way I thought it should be done. And at them for not doing it my way and making my plans work out for me. lol did I get there?!

Anyway....weird morning. Thinking out loud about a lot of stuff.
Have mercy on us all...


beachteacher said...

wow Annette - you have posted ME...the belt, the yelling, the parenting books - wanting wanting to do it RIGHT for my kids, the guilt....all of it. Thank you for this post. Love you Annette...

Signe said...

You're first paragraph 'explaination of your job' made me choke on my coffee--that was so funny. It is so interesting to me how memories are triggered. We didn't have a belt, my mom had a wooden spoon that she always threatened us with but never used. Everytime I stir something with a wooden spoon, I hear her threatening my brother and me to stop fighting or she'd have to use it. I'm sorry you were hit. About mothering--who is ever really prepared? You love your children and that opens you up to the other tools: patience, understanding, empathy. You have it all, Annette. You're a good mom.

Grace-WorkinProgress said...

I was whipped not in the lite and fluffy way only by my mother.

I remember when the styles went from thin belts to thick. Thick was better.

I don't hold this against my deceased God fearing parents. I just accepted this as part of my ADD status as a child. They didn't know better.

I don't have kids but my sister does she did believe in spankings.

The whippings never worked on me. It wasn't until TV restriction that I every really conformed.

Good post something to think about.

Syd said...

I remember my father taking a belt to me when I was small. I woke him up from a nap. Your writing brought back the memory. I know he did the best that he knew how to do. I believe these things are hard take out of our memories though.