I never really understood that phrase until tonight, and I've heard it quite a few times. My mom would almost always say that to me when I got a spanking. I used to think, no it doesn't, I'm the one getting spanked, you're the one who's doing it, and if does hurt you, it's just your hand and that's because your spanking me. She would say something like, you will understand when you get older and became a parent. Well, tonight I finally understand, and no, it's not because I spanked Spencer; blame the inch long splinter embedded in Spencer's toe.
Yesterday, Spencer told me that she wanted me to kiss her toe- it had a boo-boo on it. I kissed her toe, looking at her boo-boo, and I saw what appeared to be a little cut that had already scabbed over. When I was examining it, she told me she needed a "boo-boo baid" (Spencer's word for band-aid) and I put a smiling Sponge Bob on her toe. All was right again.
So tonight, she told me again that I needed to kiss her toe. This seemed strange to me, it was just a little cut, her toe shouldn't still be hurting. I had her lay down and I flipped the lamp shade up so the light was shining right on us. I looked closely, but it appeared the same as it did the night before- a small cut. But when I touched it, Spencer yelled "OWWWW." So I got my little LED flash light out and examined her toe, but when I touched it again, it started to ooze a little and Spencer began crying for real. The bright flash light revealed that the scabbed over cut was, in fact, a deep splinter.
I immediately flashed back to when I was kid and my dad would take out my splinters- those are not pleasant memories. I used to think splinter extraction was a form of torture and when I'd get one, I wouldn't tell anyone until it was already infected, thus making said extraction even worse. And now I was going to have to do the same thing to Spencer. I got out my little medical kit, sterilized the tweezers, and fixed the light so I could clearly see what I was doing.
The entire process took about five minutes, but it felt more like 50. It wouldn't have taken even half that time, but I was trying to be extra gentle, which only only made it worse because it meant I was going super slow. Finally, I figured out that it would be in everyone's best interest to get the splinter out sooner rather than later; as it turns out, the gentle way is a lot more painful than the quick way.
Spencer screamed the entire time, her constant howling refrain was "don't hurt me mommy, please stop, please, please, please." It broke my heart. That's when I heard myself saying to her, "this hurts me more than it hurts you." I tried explain that I had to get the splinter out or it would hurt even worse because it would cause an infection. Of course, a two, almost three, year old doesn't really understand this concept. But I just wanted her know that I wasn't doing it to hurt her- I was trying to prevent her from experiencing even more pain further down the road. She crying, I was crying, and I would have given anything to not be the one causing her tears.
When it was all over, I scooped her into my lap and rocked her until she stopped crying. I kissed her toe and she looked me and said "don't cry mommy, it's okay." And with that, all was forgotten and she was back to her normal self. I, however, was not. It's like I was hit with an enlightening lightening bolt. I realized that when you love someone as much as a mother loves her child, sometimes you have to do things that they might not understand, for their own good. Even though you may not want to and you feel terribly, it's something that has to be done- because you them. And yes, it will most likely hurt you more than it will hurt them. Man, this motherhood stuff is tricky sometimes! Who would have thought a splinter could have taught me so much?
30 minutes ago