Thursday, February 17, 2011

What You Get is What You Get

“What you get is what you get. What you do with what you get is what’s important.”
I just heard this statement as I stood at the stove making my umpteenth box of macaroni, for the umpteenth time, in my umpteenth year as a parent. I don’t know why now, why today, or why this box of macaroni but this statement meant something. It rang my proverbial bell and as little stars and cartoon birds circled my head like a halo, my own little life and all it’s possible lives flashed before me. 
Who might I have been if I hadn’t been blessed and burdened with my kids? 
I’d have traveled certainly. My feet constantly itch to move and be away. To just pick up and leave, it doesn’t matter where. Well, with the exception of Wal-Mart, Ikea, or the neighborhood bouncy house. 
I’d have been an artist. Immersing myself in the deep and soul-enriching joy of creation. With the exception of creating anything with macaroni, pudding, white glue, or small cut-up pieces of drinking straws. 
I’d have engaged the world as a woman, rather than a mother. A being whole and entire unto myself without additional human appendages--including any and all waste those appendages create, expel, and talk about, loudly, at random and inconvenient moments. 
I’d have aged more gracefully, or maybe less--probably less, knowing me, but it would have been way more fun than the slow mudslide into this bi-monthly-at-home-hair-colouring-mustache-waxing-whisker-plucking-sexless-middle-agedness.  
I’d have been a bad-ass anarchist. Wait, I am a semi-bad-ass anarchist (I occasionally park in the Teacher parking when I drop my kids off at school). I’d have drank more, smoked more, had more crazy, borderline illegal sex with more partners, had more tattoos, driven faster, taken more risks, and lived louder. And I’d certainly have eaten better. Rich, delicious, exotic, wild food--if I have to have one more pot of spaghetti with Prego, or smell one more over-boiled Maple Leaf weiner, I might actually eviscerate someone (and gleefully see if Gordon Ramsay can make me a tasty dish of adolescent entrails). 
But, I got this life. I got two marriages, one good. I got 5 kids. I got gray hair, wrinkles, stretch marks, and a bad attitude. I got what I got. Now, have I done enough with it?
I’m not sure. There’s no threat of me winning Mother of the Year (you might already have sussed that out for yourself). And there’s absolutely no danger of me ever being nominated for Wife of the Year. But as I sit here, in the indoor playground from Hell, and watch my kids play, smile, laugh and wipe boogers on the  obnoxious little bugger pushing past, I can’t help but think that if I haven’t made my life into everything it could or ought to have been, at least I have my teeth, I love my family, I can still laugh, even at 5-year old creeps with snot encrusted hair, and best of all, in Canada alcohol is completely legal. 

What's Bred in the Bone

What separates me from other parents? What makes me unique, special, individual, memorable to my children? If I die, Heaven forbid, what part of me will be left in my children's memories and hearts? I know what I hope it will be--my tenderness, my thoughtfulness, my joyousness, my epic love for them.  In reality, it'll probably be my bloody, horrid, foul trucker-mouth. And friends, that memory will be well earned: my cursing vocabulary is immense--think one-eyed, drunken sailor on shore-leave at last call in a whore house--and that's before my morning coffee. When I really get warmed up I take swearing to heights entirely unequaled. I am, though I say it myself, a bloody prodigy.

It's shameful. I know. I should hang my head, wash my mouth with soap, be a better role model. My poor, poor husband, who wouldn't say shit if he had a mouthful, is often aghast and horrified, yet at the same time salaciously intrigued. My trouble is simple, and here I am admitting it--"Hi my name is Danielle and I'm a swearaholic"--I love to swear. I love the explosive use of language. I love the reaction, the jaw-drop or the ever-so-slight-eye-narrow or the shocked guffaw, (and here's the truth, ugly as it is) I am what I am, and I love being crass.

It's a horrible affliction of having grown up on the wrong side of the wrong side of the tracks--I struggled to make good, make nice, fit in and climb the social ladder, then having mastered the art of social elegance and been granted the secret handshake to the Mid-to-Upper Echelon Club, I find my mouth overflowing with profane obscenities. What can I say? "What's bred in the bone, will come out in the flesh," and man, when it comes out, it comes out in spades.

"But what about your sweet innocent children?! How dare you expose them to bad language! For shame," you say.

What can I say, except your right. It's all around indecent parenting. I know it is. And, for what it's worth, I curb my vicious tongue when I'm volunteering at the school tea party.  But....well....frankly....for the rest of it, I simply say, "Fuck yes, I want a hamburger."

Every parent has to leave a legacy, right? I mean some of you might leave your kids distinguished blood lines. Some of you might leave them a rich tapestry of faith and traditions. Some of you might even leave the family hardware store. Me, I'm leaving my kids a dying language. The fine, well honed, and underused art of swearing.

I mean, what the cuss, it could be worse. I could swear like a drunken sailor and smell like the back seat of a taxi. At least I wash my armpits, if not my mouth, with soap, and, well, it is still the mouth I kiss them goodnight with. And so far, the little shits still kiss me back.