Several 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“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!
III“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!
V“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!