I spanked my oldest daughter when she was about 2 1/2 years old. She’s 14 now… I remember it well. She was having a terrible fit late at night and wouldn’t stay in her bed. She would not stop crying due to her not getting what she wanted at the time — a pop-tart. I warned her to stop many times. I counted to 3. I walked away. I ignored. I become frustrated at her screams and I spanked her. She stopped screaming but the look of disbelief on her face floored me. The look of distrust sent chills through my body.
I’m not opposed to spanking — you parent your way, I’ll parent mine. But, for me, I began to realize many things that could possibly be going through that 2 1/2 year olds mind. She was angry and I tried to stop her anger with a jolt of pain. She was upset and I tried to stop her from being upset with a jolt of pain. She was sad and I tried to stop her sad with a jolt of pain. It affected me deeply, still to this day. Love is complicated. Love is raw. Love is endearing and breathtaking and overcoming and welcoming and overbearing and needed — love is needed. But, love isn’t a jolt of pain.
I think I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery or on a path of self-evaluation or something that sounds really deep and zen and kumbaya. I’ve had friends tell me about their journey’s to self-evaluation and it truly seemed like they were enlightened and informed and better at life now for taking on such a journey. When I thought that I too could possibly have ventured down this path, I was really excited — really. I thought if I came out just half the person that my friend’s had come out of their journey then I would be complete and whole and loved and even better… liked. I actually think I am all of those things to a certain degree — perhaps not to the degree that I think is enough… in my un-enlightened mind.
I really like love. I’m not sure I love love but it’s safe to say that I really like it. I like the way it looks and I like the way it sounds and I like the way it feels and I like the way it comforts. I’ve always liked love a lot. I’ve loved in my life — I still love. My children, my parents, my brother and sisters and nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles and cousins and… you get the point. I have friends that I love, I know love. I’m not unaware of its allure — I usually opt to stay on the fringes of it though. Until I began this whole journey to self-discovery/self-evaluation — things change when you least expect them to. As of late I’ve loved fast and fierce and hard. A friend of mine left a comment here a few posts ago and she said, “…you love so hard.” I was confused at this statement for a bit. I reread the post and I reread the comment and it dawned on me that this person, who seemingly knows very little about me… knew me very well.
I love so hard because I know how it feels to love and be loved and what a wonderful feeling it is. I love so hard because it lives in me and in my life and in my house and in my children. I love so hard because I want the people I love to feel it, I want it to warm them. I love so hard because if I try to keep it all inside of me, I will burst with its joy. I love so hard because that is what matters — in this life, love matters.
I haven’t spanked my children since that time, so many years ago. I don’t coddle them or make excuses for them… they are often in need of discipline and I am often giving it to them — but, I don’t spank them. For me, it was like saying, “… you’re mad? Here’s some pain to go with that, how are you now?” I’m certain love should never be accompanied by pain… not pain we can avoid. So… I continue on my journey. I continue to figure out this life I lead. I continue to love and I expect love in return — I don’t think that’s too much to ask, because… I do love so hard.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love — Mother Teresa