I have a confession to make. I'm a potty mouth. Big time. Like fuckin' huge! That admisson would probably surprise some people, I'm a mother of four, I operate a natural parenting business that lends itself to a hippy-dippy, wholesome image (I do wear birks, they're fuckin' awesome!). Of course, I'm not suggesting I'm *not* a wholesome person, I'm just a wholesome person who likes to swear. A lot.
If you had asked me before I was a mother if I would ever swear in front of my future children, my probable answer would have been 'no', in fact, I likely would have been horrified at the idea. However, when you've never been a parent, or when you're only a parent of one, it's awfully easy to pass judgement on other's parenting skills (I was sooooo holier-than-thou when I was a mom to one, I'll fully admit it!).
As much as I love our children, parenting is a stressful job. Fortunately for me, swearing is a huge stress-reliever (added bonus: it's free!). I come from a family of four children, I still remember my father making an effort not to swear in front of us (it didn't work), he tried to replace 'shit' with 'shovel', or 'sugar', and it was ridiculous! Both words were preceded by a long 'shhhhhhh' as we all watched my father teeter on the precipice of cussing (eventually, he would fall in). My own career as a potty mouth started long before I was a mother, I can still remember the first swear word I said (shit!), I was walking down the street with another girl (can't remember if it was a friend or my older sister), and we both took turns saying 'shit' and giggling madly. Ah, memories!
Of course, by my own standards, 'shit' is a relatively minor swear word, tame, in fact. If I'm going swear, I'm going to unload the good stuff. I like to use the eff word. A lot. I could be talking about something good, or something bad, no matter, 'Fuck' is a highly effective way of emphasizing my point, or to illustrate that I've finished my sentence (like a period, if you will):
"That cheesecake was fucking awesome. Fuck!"
"Aw fuck, we forgot your lunch, we've got to go back to get it. Shitfuckdamn!" (you like that?)
Despite the fact I swear around them like a sailor, my kids know better. Probably because since they've been old enough to speak, I have drilled it into their heads that *only* mummies and daddies are allowed to swear. In fact, I have told them that the more children you have, the more swear words you are allowed to say. Case in point, a recent exchange at dinner:
Maddy: You say the eff word a lot.
Me: I know, it's an adult word. I can also drive a car. I can also drink alcohol. Adults are allowed to do more things than kids.
Maddy: Rachel's mom doesn't swear.
Me: I know, but Rachel's mom only has one kid. She's only allowed to swear ten times a year. I have four kids, I'm allowed to swear 40 times a year.
Obviously, this explanation hinges on the assumption no one is counting how many times I swear. But still, it was a good enough explanation for her. Maddy is in grade four now, and she regularly comes home regaling us with stories about how so-and-so said the 'i word' (idiot), the 'j word' (jerk), or the 'sh word' (shut up). When I say my kids don't swear, I mean they *don't swear*. Quite frankly, I'm more concerned about name-calling than I am swearing, there's a difference!
I do censor myself where appropriate, I generally don't swear at the store, around my mom or my inlaws, or around other children. If I do happen to swear around you, it means I'm comfortable enough in your presence to indulge in my filthy habit, consider it a sign of endearance!
There was a time when I felt guilty enough about my potty mouth that 'not swearing anymore' actually made it onto my (now defunct) list of New Years resolutions, however, I have come to the logical conclusion that even if I didn't swear in front of our kids, someone else will (case in point: the kids in my daughter's class will eventually gradtuate from 'jerk' or 'idiot' to something stronger), I can't shelter them from everything. In the grand scheme of things, if you consider all of the vices I could have, swearing isn't so bad, is it?
The day will come when I hear a swear word fall out of one of our kids' mouths, but as long as they're not using their words to hurt another person, I can live with it, they all grow up eventually! My children are under strict orders not to swear until they're 16 years old (am I naive to think I can hold it off that long?). It used to be 18 years old, but I recently lopped two years off, DD#2 was quite thrilled, I can tell she's going to excel in that area, a chip off the old fuckin' block!