Her name was Janet. She and my mother were friends when I was about five. Janet is the only adult face I can remember from that early. The scene that plays in my mind, as I remember her, is still vivid today. Only now, the translation from child to adult is both distorted and crystal clear—and usually plays in slow-motion.
Let me give you a peek.
Janet, with her long nails painted in 1960s orange, and her hair piled up high atop her head in a perfectly sculpted “beehive,” sat talking with my mother. Her elbow was propped on the table, perching her cigarette between two fingers like an accessory to her lipstick. The only word I remember coming out of her mouth was one drawn-out explicative: “shheeit.”
In my five-year-old eyes, that pretty mommy turned cartoonishly ugly. Some mommy blogs have me wondering if this is the new normal.
From Jill Pond at Scary Mommy:
I’m sorry that I’m not sorry about my language. The pearl-clutching puritans who tinkle their pants at the mere hint of a hedonistic expletive assume that I’m a foul-mouthed failure of a parent, and to that I say, “f*ckity-f*ck-f*ck-f*ck.”
My daughters don’t mind my F-bombs. In fact, they don’t even notice anymore, and though I can express myself without swearing, why should I? My kids still beg me to tuck them in each night, regardless of how many times I said “f*ck” on that particular day. They still fight over who gets to sit next to me, even if I get elbowed in the face and say “F*ck!” They give zero f*cks about how many f*cks I say in a day. They think I’m the best. [censoring mine]
Of course they do.
Does being foul-mouthed make you a bad parent? No. Does it make your children love you less? Absolutely not. Children, especially young children, love their parents in spite of their faults—which we all have.
However, don’t think for a minute they won’t judge your parenting when they are adults. We did with our parents, and trust me, yours will too.
If using a single four-letter word as a noun, verb, and adjective is your brand of motherhood, I’d like to offer a few words of caution.
First, understand that children see their parents through a different lens. Their memories are skewed and distorted by immaturity.
Take that into consideration when you move the societal line of propriety for your children. It’s only natural that they will push that line even further—past your comfort level. Or, they will vow to become the exact opposite. Breaking taboos is a risky business when it comes to kids.
I recently read that the best place to start when setting relational goals is to try to envision the end. Your funeral. When your family gathers around you, what will they remember most about you?
We moms don’t have to go that far. Childhood is brief. What kind of mother do you want to be remembered as?