It's important that you understand, I'm typically a pretty laid back parent. Someone asked me in the comments of the post about Mazzy favoring her father, how much it really bothered me.
I thought about that for awhile.
It bothers me but not in any impactful sort of way. It is fact. Motherhood is hard. I try to roll with it.
Well, this weekend I stopped rolling.
On Saturday morning, we drove out to Riverhead to do some outlet shopping. Maybe you're not supposed to take a toddler outlet shopping, but we all needed clothes and that's what we did regardless.
I don't know if the new evironment was just too exciting for Mazzy or if she was doing her best with a bad situation, but once she set her eyes on that strip of discount stores, the girl acted like a wild animal let out of a cage.
She was squirming on her back across the floor of the Sunglass Hut, crawling into other people's dressing rooms in J. Crew and yanking the purses off the display mannequins at Barney's.
She was a handful and a half.
But I can deal with that.
What I can't deal with is THE SMACKING.
Mazzy has hit me before and I've struggled with how to make her understand the consequences for her actions. I don't like yelling at her. It doesn't come naturally to me and she knows it. When I yell at her to stop hitting, she does the same thing every time. She flashes a huge smile and smacks me again.
The only thing worse than your daughter smacking you with a shit-eating grin on her face, is doing it while making full eye-contact.
I've tried ignoring her but that doesn't work either. Then she smacks me to get my attention. And putting her in her room for a "time out" isn't really an option when you are standing in the middle of GAP KIDS with a boatload of clothes over your arm.
Mazzy rarely (if ever) hits her father but on this Saturday, she made a rare exception and I was not the only parent subject to abuse.
When we announced it was time to change her diaper, Mazzy raced off down the sidewalk like she was trying out for the Toddler Olympics. I stood waiting at the restroom, while Mike chased after her.
A good five minutes later, Mazzy's head emerged in the distance above the crowd of shoppers. She was on Mike shoulders as he walked stoically back to me.
With each step, Mazzy clocked him in the head. First, with one hand on one side and then, the other hand on the other side. Over and over. It reminded me of Danielson's pendallum move in Karate Kid 2.
Upon their return, Mike waltzed Mazzy straight into the men's bathroom (thank god, I don't think I could have dealt with her at that moment) and changed her.
I stood outside and listened to her continue hitting him as tried to get the changing over with as quickly as possible. "No, Mazzy" he prepeated firmly but patiently, "No hitting."
At some point, Mike had enough and yelled it her like I haven't heard him yell at her before.
I recognized the tone immediately. It's that tone where you are angry but also unsure of how angry you should be. How loud do you have to yell to get your point across? Is it okay to yell at all? Are you a good parent or a bad parent for being more or less forceful?
I, for one, really have no idea.
But after months of feeling like the bad guy, I was a little excited to be the good guy for once.
When Mike and Mazzy came out of the bathroom, I reached for her.
I know that was probably the wrong thing to do. I should be standing in solidarity with my husband's actions and not using it as an opportunity to be the favorite parent.
But it didn't matter, because Mazzy is not the kind of girl who needs to be protected.
What did she do when I took her into my arms?
She whallopped me straight across the face.
OH MY GOD, DID IT STING.
I waited until we all got back to the car and had Mazzy safely buckled into her car seat. Then I took my position in the passenger seat up front and burst into tears.
I don't think I have ever cried in the presence of my daughter before and I wish I could say that Mazzy yelled from the back, "What's wrong Mommy?"
But she didn't.
As a parent, I typically take everything in stride.
But Saturday, parenting broke me.
It really did.
(Don't be fooled.)