“It’s not,” I replied with a matching grin, “it’s for a Live Lit reading I’m doing tonight at Martyrs' tonight called Louder Than a Mom; it’s like telling a story in front of an audience. Why do you ask?”
“Well, I saw a few bad words on the page and I know you like to be pretty ‘animated’ when you write,” she teased.
That kid’s got my number. I stopped dead in my tracks for a minute wondering if maybe I should shield her from my writing, its topics, and my language. While I do try to curb my infamous sailor mouth when I’m around my kids, I’d say one-tenth of my foul language still seems to slip out accidentally, which I feel slightly bad about.
But then I started thinking about when my daughter was first born. My wife and I made a conscious decision over a decade ago to make lifestyle changes that would not only be good for us, but that would also affect our children. Since we were going to be responsible for shaping young minds, we didn’t want to start off by passing down bad habits. We resolved to lay off drinking to excess, abandon the drug use, ease up on the overall profanity, and finally desert the nicotine, which admittedly took a bit longer to conquer than the other modifications. We left the core of our personalities, but softened the exterior shell of rowdiness.
We grew, and are still growing, into our current-day selves. I am a dumbed-down version of the freak show I once was, in some regards, but that’s allowed me to open up my mind and let other ideas in that help keep the three-ring-circus that I love going in a more authentic fashion. No matter how many ‘edits’ have been made to my persona, the mouth like a truck driver has persevered, as well as my basal need to poke fun at and reiterate insane stories about myself and the other loonies with which I consort. These attributes are part of me. I like being this person. I’m proud of who I am, even though I still make bad decisions from time to time, and probably always will. So there’s no need to shelter my daughters from my crux.
I shared with my daughter the story about my therapist I would be performing that night and explained to her that I find the use of profanity most effective from time to time. She thought my story was funny and my choice of vocabulary unneeded, yet expected. She's already exploring who she wants to be as a person, and I’m hoping that by being myself in front of her and her sister, I will help each of them feel more comfortable developing and wearing their own brand of personality with pride.
Don't forget to watch my Louder Than a Mom performance above. And while you're at it, come to one of the next performances on Monday, November 24 or Monday, December 15, as it's a load of laughs!