Warning: naughty language ahead!
I’m a mom and I’m holding it together like a boss.
Sure, I may be sitting on my couch eating canned frosting from a spoon right now, but most days, I’m so on top of this mom thing that I can’t even.
I’ve been living the glamorous mom life for a lot of years now. Two of my three boys are grown up and paying their own bills. I’m pretty sure the third still lives here because food goes missing regularly, there’s laundry falling out of his room, and he asks me to take him places on a regular basis.
I love all my guys, though, and never once have I regretted trading my old size two jeans and perfect lady parts for having them in my life.
When they were little, I tried to do it all. I carefully considered every potential play date, assessing them and their parents for any sign that they could corrupt my perfect children. I avoided “evil” costumes on Halloween, and avoided violence in the media and in the toys I purchased as if it was bringing the downfall of humanity.
But do you know what my little man-children did despite my efforts at creating a wholesome, peaceful, perfect home? They turned bananas into guns. They yelled and screamed and chased each other around the house. They made their own friendships at school that I couldn’t oversee. They even had the audacity to watch commercials, look at billboards, and talk about inappropriate things in the back seat of the car.
Somewhere along the way, I learned to change my tactic. Instead of trying to protect them from everything I didn’t like out in the world, I decided to have conversations about those things.
Rather than pretend that violence, sex and swear words don’t exist, we acknowledge their existence and learn when and where they’re appropriate.
For our house, that means we have a lot of candid language and dialogue. There is no subject that is off limits. There are no words that, if used in the proper context and are not name-calling or insults, are not okay. And heck, we even use those swear words—and we use them well.
Does that mean that I let my kids say anything they want? Of course not. That’s where empathy and understanding come in. There is a difference between being expressive and being, well, an asshole. If one of my boys would be hurt by something they’re about to say, they know not to say it to someone else.
We can’t protect our kids from the world, but we can give them a firm sense of who they are so that they are prepared to step out into it when the time comes.
We don’t have to be all-knowing, authoritarian and overbearing, and at the same time, we don’t have to try to be friends with our children. But there is a happy medium in which we become trusted adults who don’t let our own egos and expectations get in the way of who our children are meant to become, even when that means keeping it together when hard truths come out of their mouths and hit us smack between our eyes.
Times have changed since we were growing up, and this new generation relates to educated reasoning, empathy, and candor like no generation before. We can no longer afford to pretend we’re perfect, that we never made choices we regret, or that we never screw up as adults. Our kids are smart enough to see the reality, and their trust in us dies with each little lie.
What they really need to know is who they are so that they can stand on a strong foundation and make educated, appropriate choices. That takes a lot of conversations, even the kind we don’t always want to have.
We can’t build walls around our kids to keep them from things we don’t want for them. We only set them up for failure if we don’t allow them to find their place in the world, and even make a few mistakes while they are still under our roofs.
If we never talk about drugs, alcohol or sex at the dinner table, they’re going to have those conversations without us. If we put certain words and ideas on a high shelf that’s out of their reach, they learn that there is a limit to what they can talk to us about.
Why not give them context to work from so that their ideas about sex, drugs, race, politics, and everything else that they are forming thoughts on (because they are) are discussed and debated, and they know where they truly stand?
There is no guidebook for parenting, and I’m more than ready to admit that each child and every family is different. What I do know for fact is that we all love our children fiercely and want what’s best for them. My family’s way isn’t right for everyone, but it is right for us.
And in our case, we talk a lot, we laugh a lot, and I do say fuck a lot—mindfully, and in the right context. Because being a good mom isn’t about being perfect; it’s about being real.
Author: Amanda Christmann
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Angelina Litvin/Unsplash