The Truth About Motherhood: Sometimes I Swear Like a Sailor


picture of toddler screaming near a bridge Providence Moms BlogIt could be because my kids are teenagers. Because my kids were both home for nine days straight for February break. Or that I’m admittedly not perfect and sometimes lose my patience. Whatever the reason, I tend to talk like a sailor when I’m not around my kids. I honestly don’t remember swearing that much before I became a mom.

I get such a release from it. The moment my kids left for school this morning, I jumped up and down and proceeded to blast music from my Pandora playlist and had a mini rock concert in the kitchen while putting the dishes away. I was dancing down the driveway on my way to go for a walk with my best friend. And I dropped a few F-bombs. We both giggled. Then I remembered my friend is trying a new thing where she doesn’t swear.

At first, I thought, WTF?

But I admire her tenacity. She says it makes her feel better when she doesn’t swear, and she’s totally OK with other people swearing. She actually thinks it’s funny. If she slips up, she gives her daughter a donation to what I lovingly refer to as the Swear Jar. It’s genius. And admirable.

But. I’m. Just. Not. There. Yet.

Did I mention that my kids were home for nine days straight in the middle of February? And they are teenagers?

I realize I’m out of the diaper stage. The toddler stage. The ridiculously active kindergarten stage. The first grade totally-attached-to-my-leg stage. I lived through and loved it all with a few girls’ nights and date nights with my hubby thrown in to help maintain my mommy sanity. But my kids are older now. They’re great kids. But it’s a new stage. And it has its awesome side and its not-so-fun side.

I have turned into my mother.

They are no longer at the age where I can just whisk them off to the zoo or the playground to get their wiggles out. No, when you’re a mom to teenagers, you have to go around their practices and social calendars. I mommy-uber the younger one around while I wait patiently for daily so-called plans from the older one and try to sneak in chores for them to do too.

“What are you up to today, honey?”

“I dunno.”

I plaster on a smile while I slowly wither away until I sneak out for a swear session in the privacy of my car. Like nicotine to a smoker, it feels so good.

(By the way, now I know what Mrs. Walsh from 90210 felt like. But I have a feeling she never swore!)

My kids are awesome and I love them dearly. But when it comes to mood swings during February vacation, I thought I’d lose my mind. And I’m not just talking about myself. So to maintain my sanity, I often swear like a sailor as soon as they leave the room. Or when I’m out with my girlfriends. It reminds me of the creative ways I used to mask this bad habit. I wanted to share some tidbits from a post I wrote a long time ago to show what a difference a few years makes when it comes to motherhood. It really makes you appreciate each stage:

Through the years, I’ve tried relentlessly to use substitute swear words in front of my kids. Unfortunately, when something happens that’s out of my control, I panic. I forget. I temporarily lose “mommy” control. And although I want the oh-so-satisfying profanities to release themselves into the wild, I catch myself. And I try NOT to say THAT eff-in WORD at the last minute.

For example:
* When I ran downstairs recently, took one wretched whiff and realized my dog had gone #2 loosely all over the family room rug, my kids heard me scream, then shout, “SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
* When I burned myself on my daughter’s cute mini cupcake maker, (which I swear was modeled after Arrested Development’s illegal-in-the-U.S. Cornballer machine) my kids might hear: “HOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLL
HHHHHuuuugar!” spew out of my mouth.
* When I hit my elbow (for the umpteenth time) on the corner of the kitchen counter, all they hear is:
These words are incredibly lame. I know this. But they must be used most of the time at least. Or else my children would think their mother is indeed a sailor.
Other favorite phrases in my house that my mother frowns at, but I think are passable for good parenting?
– “For the love of…… Christmas”
– “Dang it”
– “Jinkies”(Courtesy of Scooby-Doo!)
– “Beetle juice”
– “Flippin’”
– “O M Goodness”
– “Mother of Pearl”
– “Praise Jeebus” (thanks to Homer Simpson)
– “Fahrvergnügen”
– “Holy Tamale”
– And my personal favorite…”Son of a……”

I’m not an idiot. I know my kids don’t live under a rock. I get that they recognize REAL swear words. They watch PG and PG-13 movies (from the 1980’s, mind you) sometimes. It’s all about the ear-muffs, right? When they hear a bad word, my husband and I will warn them, “Ear-muff it, kids. If you accidentally hear it, NEVER use that word”. And they jokingly cover their ears. (Footnote: This method of parenting is courtesy of Vince Vaughn’s role in the movie Old School, thank you very much.)
But as long as I am their mother, I will keep trying! Gosh help me, I will keep trying.

Being a mom isn’t easy. It has its rewards. But if you need to release an eff-bomb here or there, just know that I get it. I’m part of a judgment-free zone, girlfriend. And I give you full on, from-one-mother-to-another permission!


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Jackie Hennessey is a Rhode Island mom who honestly gets what other mothers go through. Having worked full-time, part-time, and been a stay-at-home mom too, she sees motherhood from a variety of angles. And thankfully, with a sense of humor. Jackie blogs about her take on motherhood and mid-life at and writes about it in her award-winning gift book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker. Jackie is a native Texan with some roots and relatives in Rhode Island. (She's a NASA kid and her Houston accent usually comes out when she's blasting Willie Nelson in the car.) She has more than two decades of experience in public relations and journalism and holds a BA in journalism from Texas A&M University, where she received the “Best Aggie-Life writer” award. (She still has the tacky maroon plaque in her home office to prove it.) Jackie was a cast member of the 2013 and 2017 Listen to Your Mother Shows, where she formed lasting bonds with the incredible women she shared the stage with in honor of Mother’s Day. Her writing has been featured in The Barrington Times, the book Mommy Diarist and blogs like Scary Mommy and BluntMoms. She has donated her PR expertise to many local non-profits from Arts Alive to Dress for Success since launching her professional pr consultancy in 2006. When she’s not writing, consulting, volunteering, ubering her kids around, vacuuming up dog hair or folding laundry while binge-watching Netflix, she likes to vent with dear friends over cheese dip. Jackie is married to her high school sweetheart and they live in Barrington, Rhode Island with their two teens and three fluffy and friendly Golden Retrievers.