I say bad words. Too many of them. And in earshot of my children.
I’m not proud of it and, miraculously, they know these are special words that only Mommy and Daddy are allowed to use and even then only sometimes. Still, the guilt persists.
But sometimes it’s hilarious, too.
Like the time my then two-and-half-year-old son dropped the Queen Mother of bad words. That should have been horrifying, but it was, hands down, one of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced.
Allow me to take you back to that time. I was the haggard mother of a five-month-old baby boy, a two-and-a-half year-old boy and a 5 -ear-old daughter. My infant son was Opposite Baby: days were nights, nights were days, and that meant I got next to no sleep. I’m still convinced he was secretly working in CIA Covert Ops and was devising new brainwashing and torture techniques. (Fun fact: Said child is now 9-years-old and his career goal is to be on the SWAT team. Did I call it, or did I call it?)
My husband worked overnights at the hospital, which meant he was dead exhausted, too, but for entirely different reasons. So, from 5 p.m. at night until 7 a.m., I was on my own with the kids.
Long story short, I had to wrestle everyone out of bed at 5 a.m. every morning – yes, 5 a.m. – get them dressed and in the car by 6 a.m. Then I ferried everyone over to my inlaws’ home, then I got myself to work. All by 7 a.m.
These were not fun times.
One morning, I was corralling everyone into our minivan. I had latched, strapped and buckled all three in and had set my workbag in the front passenger seat. Of course, the bag, conspiring with gravity, decided that would be the perfect moment to lean sideways, tumble out of the van and splat against the garage floor. My stuff went everywhere.
I was in no mood and, in my exhaustion, I said a curt: “Mother-fudger!”
But, just like Ralphie in ‘A Christmas Story,’ I didn’t say ‘fudge.’
I grabbed all my stuff and crammed it back in the van, and, just as I was about to shut the door, I heard a tiny voice from the back seat: “Muthafuuuuuuuckkkkkaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
I stood stock-still. “What?”
He said it again, this time with a huge smile on his precious little face: “Muthfuuuuuuuucckkkkkkaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
He didn’t do much as say it as sing it. “MuuuuthaaaafuccckAAAAAAAAAA!”
I bit my lip to keep myself from laughing. In fact, I’m pretty sure I caused myself severe internal injuries from suppressing the laughter. I took a breath, then calmly said, “That’s not a nice word, baby. You shouldn’t say it.” I don’t know how serious I came across because I was stifling a laugh, but he stopped saying it.
I was dying to share this with someone because, let’s be honest, it was hilarious. I thought of my in-laws. Not only would they not think it was funny, they would call CPS on me for introducing the word to him. (Not really. My in-laws are awesome, but they don’t have my sense of humor, i.e., laughing when little kids say awful words.)
I called my husband just as he was getting off work. My best friend, my soul mate, would surely find the funny in this situation. Yes, our son used a bad word, but he did so with perfect inflection and comedic timing! My husband would surely find this as hilarious as I did. Wrong again. Not only did he not think it was funny, he made me feel like I needed to turn in my Mom Card. (He’s since said he didn’t really ‘get’ the story at the time because he was beyond exhausted. In his defense, he pretty much looked like a zombie back then.)
I was undaunted. I knew this was funny and I would prove it. I called my older brother, Jeff, and recounted the whole story and then waited for his reaction. Dead silence. Nothing. I feared he, too, thought I was a crappy mom. Until I heard him squeaking. His silence was not judgment; rather, he had slipped into that rare, but joyous laugh that racks your body so hard you’re incapable of making any sound. I call it the Ninja Laugh.
“Oh man,” Jeff said. “That shit is hilarious.”
Yep. It was.