“You really should watch your language.”
"You have a potty mouth."
“Your writing would be so much better if you didn’t use so much profanity.”
“It’s really not becoming for the mother of a young child to swear like you do.”
I hear this often — from faithful readers, from that distant cousin who’s in some Duggar-like religious cult, my grandmother, random strangers on the Internet. But I have no plans to clean up my act any time soon, and sorry, but I’m not sorry.
My mom friends and I love to get together and cuss as soon as our kids are out of earshot. Once the children are immersed in an intense game of hide and seek on the other side of the playground, we settle onto our park bench and let loose a litany of shit. The feeling is a lot like when you’ve been wearing an itchy, tight bra all day long and you finally get home and can take the damned thing off and fling it across the room. Cussing is a relief. It’s a break. It’s alone time, adult entertainment, and NC-17 conversations about something other than potty training and Paw Patrol.
Almost all of my mom-blogging colleagues do it too. We rant, we vent, we sometimes call our toddlers assholes. No amount of disdain from comment trolls has even made a dent in our swearing. In fact, their derision may have made our language worse. Now we’re profane out of solidarity. But it’s also more than that.
Want to know why we moms of young children swear so much the second we’re away from our eavesdropping brood? I’ll tell you. It’s basically all we’ve got left.
There used to be a time when I was much younger (and skinnier) when I could slip into a black bodysuit and a pair of jean shorts (stop, it was the 90s and I also wore this with tights and a pair of Doc Martens), go out, smoke a clove cigarette, do some kind of sweet syrupy shot that was supposed to taste like a dessert and that had a lascivious name like “sticky nipple” or “sugary red whore.” I could make out with random hot guys on ecstasy and afterwards, at three ‘o’ clock in the morning, I could eat enough greasy diner breakfast to clog the arteries of a wild boar and still fit loosely in a size four. When all that was through, I’d go home and sleep ‘til one the next afternoon. And it was amazing.
But now I’m in my forties and I’m married with a preschooler. Long gone are my bodysuit days. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I definitely don’t do drugs. There are no more hot strangers to make out with. I have to get up at six every morning whether I want to or not, and as of yet, I have never wanted to. Hell, I can’t even eat carbs anymore. If I even smell hash browns I gain five pounds, and my cholesterol is high so the fried eggs are out too.
My fun is gone. I spend my days wiping someone else’s butt and driving around in a vehicle that smells like the rotten chicken nugget my daughter dropped somewhere in the dark recesses of her car seat and which I cannot for the life of me find. The only way I can be naughty these days is by using foul language, so I’ve embraced a string of obscenities and I’m holding on to them for dear life, dammit. You can have my sonsofbitches, my tits and ass, and my shitstorms of douchefuckery when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.
Swearing is liberating. It’s the last remaining bastion of freedom from my misspent youth. It’s a reminder that once I was hip and edgy and went to Sonic Youth concerts without worrying about babysitters or third birthday parties, or if my Cheez-its were organic. When I can fully exhale and call someone a fucking asshole, because they are, I feel like my true self again instead of what I’ve become — a poor performance of a good mom who wears pearls and sweater sets and bakes pumpkin bread and says and does all the right things so her kids don’t grow up to become strippers and car thieves who go on cross country crime sprees. Sometimes I desperately need to drop that charade and stop worrying that my daughter is going to turn out like Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers if I’m not perfect. Sometimes I need to say: “you know what? This shit sucks.” Then I feel a lot better, because cussing is the only safe form of rebellion available these days.
Call me uneducated if you want, but I have a terminal degree, so that argument won’t fly. Maybe I’m crass, vulgar, headed straight to hell. Perhaps I’m a terrible writer who can’t find a better word or I’m just too lazy to look. To tell you the truth, I don’t really care. I could say that I’ll do better, or I’ll wash out my mouth with a bar of Ivory soap and make a fresh start with pure words and a purer heart, but I won’t. I’m human and I’m flawed, so screw it, because I’m okay just the way I am, and no one likes those goody-goody bitches anyway.