As a parent you give up many rights. You give up your right to lay in bed til noon on a Sunday. Your right to leave the house without at least an hours worth of preparation. Your right to shower in peace, pee with the door closed, or talk on the phone without interruption. And you give up your right to use expletive language, freely and at will.
If truth be known, I’m a bit of a swearer. There are certain situations where I feel a little colourful language is quite acceptable. Necessary even. But there comes a time in parent world, when you start to realise that owning a small child is rather like owning a small parrot. One that can suddenly repeat absolutely everything that you say.
This realisation hit me & Mr O pretty hard. We like to swear at each other ‘for fun’. ‘Make a cup of tea knob-jockey’ ‘Isn’t it about time you ran the hoover round twat-face?’ – this is the kind of loving, affectionate relationship that we enjoyed pre-parrot ownership. But once you realise that your dear little one could take embarrassing you to a whole new level by dropping the F-bomb at crèche (because announcing to the whole of Frankie & Benny’s that Mummy did a poo-poo isn’t quite embarrassing enough) it becomes painfully obvious that the swearing needs to stop.
I will forever be haunted by the story of my good friend Mrs C, whose toddler flounced into the lounge, full of family members gathered for Sunday lunch, and demanded to know ‘are we going to fucking Asda then?!?!?!’ Oh yes. The swearing needs to stop.
And so stop we have. Quite successfully. As most parents do we have perfected the art of spelling our expletives. We have adopted ‘text speak’ – ‘are you going to make a cup of tea FFS?’ ‘WTF I made the last one. T-w-a-t.’ Now this would all be just fine and dandy (till she learns to spell and then frankly we’re screwed) but it seems that I’ve developed an almost uncontrollable, compulsive need to turn the air blue whenever I’m out of parrots earshot and in other adult company. It’s a bit like having your first ‘cheat day’ after two weeks on a diet and you play ‘how many carbs can I stuff into my face in twenty- four hours.’ Except I’m playing ‘how many times can I possibly shoehorn a swear word into a ten minute conversation’ (bonus points for more than three per sentence.)
This isn’t a problem when it comes to my old friends – their expectations of me are already set. (Low. Very low) But now I’m a ‘Mummy’ with new mummy friends to leave impressions upon. I want to be the classy one. The one that’s got her shit-together. Not the rogue one that comes with a free pair of ear-defenders and a ‘not-suitable for children, or possibly even some sensitive adults’ sticker.
So now I’m trying to redress the balance. Trying to be responsible. Trying to stay classy (have I ever actually been this…..?!?!) Trying to retain a few of my pre-parental traits. Because while I can happily accept that my Sunday’s of snoozing are well and truly over, surely at the end of the day, when you’ve tidied away a million Lego pieces, mopped baked bean juice off the ceiling and wrestled your parrot into its pyjamas, you have earned your right to a few teeny weeny, free-flowing expletives. And if you’re very, very lucky, maybe even a shower in peace and a pee with the door closed. FFS.