I remember when Momma spanked.
When a spanking approached, Mama was calm. She did not want to be the kind of mom who slipped into rage and started smacking randomly, hoping to hit your rear end.
Mama was calm. I would be sent to my room. She would sit at her desk in the living room. She would breathe calmly, and try her best to put whatever anger was inside of her away.
She would open her Bible to the book of Proverbs and read about “he who spareth the rod.” She would pray, and breathe deeply.
She would ponder just how she was going to do it.
But her mood would be the opposite.
With her calm mood she would fetch whichever implement would work the best.
The implement she selected was always a surprise. I would sit quietly on the bed, trying to quiet my heavy breathing enough to hear where she was. I would listen to see if she was heading to the bedroom to fetch one of my father’s belts from the closet. I would listen to see if she was tinkering in the kitchen to get a wooden spoon.
Was she in the bathroom to get her thick, wooden hairbrush?
The worst sound in the world was hearing Momma open up the front door. This meant she was going to the front yard. In the front yard was the peach tree.
I loved the peaches, but the branches they grew on were ruthless.
If I heard her go out the front door, into the hot Georgia afternoon, I knew she was cutting a branch off the tree.
I’ve heard stories of having to cut our own switch, but Momma never did this.
She would prepare for the spanking calmly, quietly, muttering little prayers under her breath, and moving slowly.
On some level she didn’t like it. She didn’t like hearing me scream and cry, as she mercilessly etched pain into my memory.
But she knew it must be done. I had to learn a lesson and obey. I had to be an obedient, godly child.
She didn’t give the kind of spankings that “got your attention.” She spanked to cause pain. She spanked without anger, but extreme harshness.
When she finally came into the bedroom, I would be on the bed, sometimes too scared even to move.
I would lower my pants and underpants.
She would say, “This is for your own good, Jacob.” I would see her blue eyes, blonde hair, and well-covered body. As she entered her 40s, she got heavier, but she concealed it well.
Her arms were heavy, and she used them to rain down on me. The weight of her arms was thrown into every blow.
“Don’t turn around, or look behind you,” she would say in a calm voice. “Close your eyes, and think about what you did.”
I would bury my face in my pillow. My bottom would face the ceiling, bare and vulnerable.
Then she would begin. The switch, the belt, the hairbrush, the wooden spoon, whatever the spirit moved her to use would come down over and over again.
No matter how hard I screamed, cried, and begged for mercy, she would continue. She wasn’t angry, she was just ready to punish, to discipline, and to purify.
The licks would go on and on. I would soon find myself in an indescribable world of extreme pain. I would beg for mercy, but she wouldn’t stop.
When finally the spanking ended, I would be in an entirely different psychological state.
Momma would hug me, and hold me on her lap as I bawled my eyes out.
She would rock me back and forth and whisper, “Momma loves you, that’s why I had to do this.”
There was never any cruelty, or even any question about her love for me. Throughout the entire process, her face still held the loving smile and caring words it always had.
When I left home at 19, I knew one thing I would miss. I would miss her fresh apple pies, her face lighting up when I did something to make her proud.
But most of all, I would miss her spankings. She spanked me the right way. She spanked me to teach me. She spanked me because she loved me.
She spanked me correctly. I’ll never forget knowing how loved I was, when Momma spanked.