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A WELL-PLACED F-BOMB
Sandi Stern, a Glen Rock resident since 2006, is a K-8 literacy consultant in schools throughout New York and New Jersey. She and husband Alex have two grown daughters.
I was one of those pregnant people you likely just wanted to smack. No morning sickness, shiny hair, and declarations of “I love never being alone,” while cradling my enormous belly. It’s truly a wonder I still had friends by delivery day.
Although I loved the experience, being “with child” resulted in a whole host of life adjustments that meant I had to give up a little bit of myself for my children’s well-being. No sushi during pregnancy later turned into scheduling appointments and working around nap times.
And then the ultimate sacrifice: NO CURSING.
“Those who CURSE do not have enough grasp of the English language to make a comprehensive argument,” said my high school English teacher, Mrs. Malloy.
I subscribed to this philosophy for years, but as the pressure of raising my math grade grew and intensified into having to impress my boss and worry about my children, I came to appreciate that sometimes “F- this!” was exactly what I wanted to say.
One night, far past midnight, my sleepy six-year-old woke up feeling ill. I heard faint gagging from the kids’ bathroom, went running, and there she was dazed and bleary-eyed standing facing the toilet. She turned to see me in the doorway and puked mightily in my direction.
“No, no, to the RIGHT," I yelled. "Into the toilet!!”
Mighty puke number two into the space between us.
“NOOOOOO!! To the RIGHT!! To the RIGHHHHHTTTTT!!”
Mighty puke number three on the floor.
There was nothing to do but wade through the ewwww and turn her tiny head in the right direction.
On the outside I said, “It’s okay, sweet girl. Mommy’s here.”
A day later, while stirring some boiling noodles, I dropped the pot of scalding water onto the floor.
I trailed off. Breathe. Self-control. Clean up.
“Everything’s fine! Nothing to see here!”
So much endless self-control sent me seeking advice.
“Sometimes a curse is reasonable,” a therapist-friend assured me. “Most people don’t drop pots of boiling water on the floor and exclaim, ’Oh dear!’
"Set realistic expectations for your daughters’ reactions," she said, "or they will grow up thinking that ‘buttoned-up’ is the ideal and an honest reaction is not okay.”
Permission. Permission that being myself CAN also mean being a great mom. A familiar discussion on all the mommy blogs, why do we think a perfect mom = love? Perfection is fake. It’s a 100-pound albatross, and it’s f’ing heavy.
Reclaiming banned language felt like reclaiming some of myself. While I was driving home alone after a long day, a sunglassed man came zipping down the emergency lane in his midlife crisis convertible, bypassing the traffic like he owned the road. Still in my lane, I moved over juuuust enough to halt his entitled chassis.
Not on my watch, motherf’er.
Cursing isn’t the absence of argument, as Mrs. Malloy said. It's the identification that what has just happened is beyond the pale, beyond argument, just WRONG. It’s getting punched in the gut by life’s little injustices and allowing ourselves to punch back.
And I own my sh‑t. 💣