Primal Scream: Song of the Romantic Toddler, Song of the Exasperated Parent

F-Bomb-MantrasSeveral months ago, my aunt stopped over to see my kids while I was in the process of getting them ready for bed. We had arranged for her visit, but given that my husband was out of town and I was on solo-parenting duty, it completely slipped my mind. When she arrived, my children were already in the bath, fighting over inane things like who got to play with the blue bucket, and splashing me, and themselves, and the rugs…

We were all a bit frazzled, and the presence of another family member only intensified the shrieks, the noise, and the chaotic joy of my children. As I proceeded to shampoo, clean, and dry my now-performing-for-an-audience little ones, I grew more impatient with their bedtime-delaying antics. Once both children were finally in their jammies, bodies lotioned and hair brushed, they scampered off to brush their teeth, leaving me and my aunt sitting, a bit bewildered, on my daughter’s bed. When the children were out of earshot, I looked at my aunt and sighed, “Holy F*ck!”

She laughed harder than I have ever seen her laugh. Was this the first time she had heard her straight-laced niece drop an f-bomb? The tension and stress of the evening dissolved in our laughter over a well-timed, but unexpected, outburst of profanity.

A while back I wrote this post about the therapeutic value for parents of an under-the-breath f-bomb as we navigate the challenges of raising kids. While our culture often portrays bathtime and bedtime and mealtime and any other kidtime as harmonious, gentle, and soothing, we parents know the truth. Our children stir up our deepest passions, both positive and negative. These emotions emerge from our mammalian, even reptilian brains, and as hard as our superego may work to contain them, sometimes we just need a cathartic burst of id.

Sometimes, we just need to scream. We seem to understand the animalistic nature of this impulse, for we talk of primal screams and barbaric yawps. Screaming is uncontrollable and hysterical. Sometimes we just want to unleash our inner wild beast.

Of course, Walt Whitman described it best in Song of Myself:

“I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

As parents, we cannot scream our barbaric profanities over the rooftops, unless we want to have to do a lot of explaining to our children and their teachers and our neighbors. But we can silently recite what I like to call “F*ck Mantras.”

Each mantra below is inspired by lines from Uncle Walt’s poem. In many ways, a good deal of our parental frustration is due to our children being little Walt Whitmans, tiny romantics whose loafing in the grass conflicts with our classical desires for order and efficiency.

I now present to you the mash-up:



“I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.”
Surrender to kid time, the Zen mommies say,
Children live in the moment, they don’t see things our way.
So try to be patient and go with the flow,
Because when you’re in a hurry, they go extra f*cking slow!


“I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked…”

My son’s a free spirit, greeting the day with joy and a smile,
He could run around the house like this for a very long while.
But as cute as this is, I pray, perchance,
That he would one day, perhaps, put on some f*cking pants!


“A few light kisses…. a few embraces…. reaching around of arms, ….
the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.”
“Mommy, is it time to wake up?” she whispers,
Her face pressed up to my sleeping head.
I want to say, “It’s 5am, my love,
Please get back in your f*cking bed!”


winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees”

Another winter storm, another day at home,
We’ll play and we’ll nap, with nowhere to roam,
We’ll read some books by the fire’s soft glow,
And pray for the end of the mother-f*cking snow!


“My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same…”
She gives a quick sassy remark, and a roll of her eyes,
With hands on her hips, she’s acting oh-so big and wise.
Where she learned this attitude, with head tilted just so,
I am pretty sure I will never f*cking know! 😉


This post is part of the Finish the Sentence Friday linkup. Today’s prompt is, “What I really want to scream out loud is…” Click the image below to read other people’s barbaric yawps!

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Sarah Rudell Beach
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Sarah Rudell Beach

Sarah is a writer, teacher, and mother. At Left Brain Buddha, she writes about her journey to live and parent mindfully, joyfully, and thought-fully in her left-brain analytical life. When not working, she enjoys dancing, reading, and hanging out with her little Buddhas.
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  1. says

    I f*cking loved this! No seriously, I was just smiling from ear to ear reading this. So true about being a mother and having our kids drive us to uttering the F-bomb when you hope to god no one hears it, but still been there and done that more times then I care to admit. As much as I love them, I still can’t help, but have my moments here, too.
    Janine Huldie recently posted…Screaming for More Savings!My Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      It’s generally an every morning thing around here these days. We swing between the extremes!

  2. says

    Couldn’t agree more and very much appreciate your poetry. To copy what I just wrote to Dana, my four year old daughter asked me today, “Mama, why do you say f—?”
    Sarah recently posted…Handsome ManMy Profile

  3. says

    OMG…love the post, so true! We love our kids, but OMG…they can suck the life out of us, LOL.
    The other day I actually gave my son the finger behind his back. He was being so rude and bossy and not listening. He turned and walked toward my hubby to be rude to him and I gave him the finger. My husband laughed with understood frustration and humor then proceeded to deal with the monster. or course ten minutes later my sweet angel was back.
    karen recently posted…You are BeautifulMy Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      OMG I love that! I’ve been tempted to do that one, too. Sometimes we just need to vent, don’t we?!

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Thanks :) It surprises me how often we portray parenting as serene, when it often swings between elation and frustration, between joy and anger!

  4. Lynn says

    Sarah, so appropriate since the f bomb was one of your early favorite words and always used correctly and expressively. Wonder where that attitude came from? Yup, Walt is right with the amazing Inheritability of all things! Momo

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Thanks, MOM! I’ve always said, I learned from the best… and it’s definitely looking like this particular gene does NOT skip generations :)

  5. says

    I love how you did this—-very clever with the poetry. You know, I have 4 kids and with the first three I never uttered a curse word around them….but then came kid #4 who was (and still is) hell on wheels. THAT is when the F-bomb became one of my favorite words…and I don’t care who hears me say it—although the older kids cringe if they happen to be within earshot.
    Marcia @ Menopausal Mother recently posted…10 Reasons Why You Should Go To A Renaissance FestivalMy Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      So far I’ve managed to keep my kids from hearing it… the silent mantra works well for now. But I only have 2 :)

  6. says

    One of my personal favorites is trying to wrangle a gaggle of kids into a vehicle. I spent a few years watching six kids for a friend, and if we ever had to drive anywhere, I’d get three in and two would pop out, get one more in and three would pop out … I never dropped any f-bombs, but I apparently express in Armenian more often than I realize because on one of these occasions, the second oldest, seven at the time, threw up her hands in exasperation and uttered Aman Asdvadz, inch ganess?!? Which basically translates to Oh my God, what is going on?!? Her having said that so perfectly, and in the right situation, totally stopped me in my tracks. :)
    Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe recently posted…Finish the Sentence Friday: What I really want to scream out loud is …My Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Ooooh, swearing in other languages… might need to look into that one! And yes, getting into cars is such a challenge! Generally, once all are in, someone needs to pee…

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      I teach high schoolers, and when my students’ parents learn of my kids’ ages, they often say, “Oh, those days were so much easier!” YIKES!!!

  7. says

    Totally fan-fu&%*-ing-tastic!

    Love the idea and I think that letting yourself be Id after the kids have gone to bed and using a swear word, rather than bottling it all in, or yelling at the kids, is not such a bad idea. I was naturally reminded of “Go the f*&k to sleep” – not Walt Whitman, but sometimes just as satisfying!
    Katia recently posted…Introducing My Inner Juan PabloMy Profile

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      Thanks, Katia. I’m all for letting it out, appropriately, rather than bottling it up and being miserable.

  8. says

    Why does it crack me up SO much when you say f*cking? I love it! You’ve definitely captured the duality of our inner thoughts for our kids with your most excellent poetry, Sarah! The f*cking pants one was my favorite. Perhaps because my kid rarely has his on. Gah.

    • Sarah Rudell Beach says

      People are always shocked the first time I let the f-bomb fly… maybe because I’m a teacher? Hmmmm…. And yes, the pants… I am shocked by how many times I have to tell my son to put pants on!

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