I did a gift guide the other week. It was kind of fun, not least because it was totally a tongue-in-cheek gift guide – not that Brainy Smurf isn’t good for awesome gift-giving advice, but still. That said, if I were to do a serious gift guide, which is to say, one that took seriously the question of the things that I or any other contemporary mothers really need, it would look more like this:
I wrestle with guilt, as you know. Also, anxiety. It’s a fun combination, guilt and anxiety. I have a lot of experience with both.
But whereas when I was working from home my guilt and anxiety tended toward the mild, ‘shouldn’t I do more volunteering at my daughter’s school; I mean, isn’t that why moms work at home? So that they can do things like spend more time with their kids?’ and ‘why do I never get out of these yoga pants?’ variety, now that I’m working outside of the home my guilt and anxiety are tending toward the more dramatic ‘OH GOD I AM NOT THERE FOR MY CHILDREN, LIKE, EVER‘ variety. Which, I know. It’s like I look for things to worry over and feel guilt about. You can roll your eyes at me. I roll my eyes at me.
Anyway. I’m feeling more guilty this week, because her birthday is coming up and I have no idea how to deal with that, what with an apartment full of boxes and a calendar that is wildly out of control and the fact that I have no idea what one does for birthdays in New York City when one can’t host a party at one’s home. And with more guilt comes more anxiety, and with more guilt and anxiety comes more of an attachment to Ativan, which brings with it more guilt, whence more anxiety, and a kind of ouroborosian cycle ensues, etc, etc, etc.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about spanking. I wrote a few posts, actually, and one magazine article, because I’d spanked my own child, and admitted it, and the ensuing uproar from outraged observers demanded its own commentary. And then the commentary kind of got out of hand – the topic was, after all, spanking – and I decided to just stop talking about it, and, indeed, I thought that I’d never write about spanking again. But then the issue of spanking hit the interwebs again yesterday, with this story about a mother who lost custody of her kids after spanking her daughter, and I feel kind of driven, against my better judgment, to comment.
The arguments in response to the story skewed in two opposing directions: there was the argument that spanking is okay, because, hey, we were spanked, and we turned out fine, and then there was the argument that spanking is never, ever okay, no way, no how, and any parent who does it should have their parenting license taken away. I’m not comfortable with either of these arguments. I’m also not comfortable admitting to that, which is, really, the thing that I want to talk about. That is, why is this all so hard to talk about?