Laid Low

Self righteousness is a double edged sword. On one side it's great, because you're right, and everyone likes to be right. On the other side, you tend to be so right that you're willing to be a complete asshole to prove it.

The Husband and I had been animatedly discussing discipline methods for Henry. Henry is so active and so adventurous that, even in our fairly Henry-proof home, he is an accident waiting to happen. He spent much of the afternoon seeing what kind of damage he could do to the Christmas decorations.

After the millionth time redirecting him from the tree, The Husband said "Maybe you should just smack his hand." He said it with the same inflection that you might say 'maybe you should wear the blue sweater' or, 'maybe I'll get a latte'. But there is probably nothing I feel so strongly about, so surely about, so self righteously about, as corporal punishment. I believe with all my heart that physical punishment has no place in our home. Period.

And so at the mere offhanded mention of it (by a man who has never laid a hand on our children), I became incensed. Partly because I do feel very strongly about it, but mostly because I was angry and embarrassed at the suggestion that my superior parenting was not working. I felt judged, and found lacking. There is no better way to hide embarrassment and confusion than behind anger. Particularly self righteous anger.

I am, sadly, very human.

So the next time Henry went after something he shouldn't (in this case it was a plug and an outlet), I let my anger guide me. I smacked his hand.

In the fury of self righteousness, I did the very thing I so adamantly opposed. I took my anger toward my husband out on my child to prove a point.

To prove a fucking point.

There is nothing that will lay you so low as shame. So ashamed was I that I continued to argue the point and bow out my chest and stick out my chin as if what I had done held merit because of the misguided spirit in which it was intended. All of this in front of my mother, and my children, and my husband, whose disappointment was so painfully evident.

As I sit here writing this, I am nursing Henry to sleep. My trangression against him was instantly forgiven. My girls will have moved on by morning, if they haven't already. My mom and the Husband, having experienced several decades of me showing my ass, will forgive and forget by this time tomorrow. But I won't forget.

The problem with self righteousness is it's tendency to stick to your self.


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