Sweary Mommy (#369)

It might shock some of you long-time readers to know that I did not actually swear in my youth. (Yes, I have been making up for lost time. Also, smart people are the sweariest.)

Pretentious white Anglo Saxon protestant families like my own don’t do anything that draws attention in public (très gauche!). And while my mom thought of herself as a liberated woman, she was also a recovering debutante. Losing your temper in public was unacceptable, especially if you were a girl. Swearing? Beyond the pale.

I also always had a bunch of baby siblings around. My father—master of emotional deregulation—averaged at least one profane eruption at the washing machine or vacuum cleaner a week. But if the elevator in Barbie’s Dreamhouse malfunctioned and a squeaky little soprano sang out, “Get your shit together, you goddamned sonuvabitch!” it was us tweens and teens who got smacked.

In college, my roommate was a Southern Baptist, which meant I self-censored for several more years.

Once I was in grad school and then working in the entertainment industry, I was free to indulge in all the swears. And I did. And it was fucking glorious.

And then I had a kid.

Damn it.

I mean, darn it. Or drat. Or some other very unsatisfying word.

Even though I don’t have a problem with cussing, plenty of other moms do.

Child scowling, but at least not swearing

Plus, I had a kid with the Ashbough temper who talked early. Baby D might be super popular with other kids if he shot out swear words like Nerf bullets, but he definitely wouldn’t be deemed playmate material by the moms. And my exhausting, super social child needed All The Playdates.

So I dug out phrases from my years as an English major. I borrowed words from or Baby D’s show “Thomas the Tank Engine.” I went from being “pissed” to being “cross.” When a pet misbehaved, they were dubbed a “foul beast” or a “wretched creature.” (My husband had it easier. He’d learned very bad Cantonese words when he was younger and muttered a lot of those. No one else in our house could replicate the tones.)

I don’t think I realized how much Shakespeare had permeated my son’s vocabulary until the day Baby D waved his hand imperiously and said, “Let’s away, Mother.”

There was still some swearing, but I thought I’d kept it to a minimum, either under my breath or only letting loose when the kid wasn’t around. I was proud of my sweary self.

Until the day when we were starting a long road trip and the DVR in the car stopped working. I wanted to swear, of course, as I pulled the car over. I did not.

And neither did my husband.

But as I dashed around the car and climbed into the back seat, three-year-old Baby D shook his head and said,

“Jesus fucking Christ.”

 

(Author’s Note: Just saw the post below on social media and am wondering why the hell I moderated my language for so many years.)