25 April 2014

Uncensored Mama

I will not censor myself in the name of motherhood.

For me, motherhood was the addition of newer levels of love, responsibility, knowledge, confusion, hope and fear. It added a new perspective to my past experiences and future goals. It added a life other than my own that I was required to care for with as much attention (if not more) than I gave myself. So many things were added to my life.

But I don't want to remove parts of me. I don't want to censor who I am in the name of motherhood. I don't want to force myself into a Rashida that doesn't fit so that I eventually regret being slowly smothered.

Like cursing! Ugh! I curse a lot, I really do. As a kid I spent a lot of time around adults, either the adult family and friends of my parents or their adult co-workers and colleagues, many of whom were politicians and celebrities. I heard A LOT of cursing! I heard a great deal of refined, articulate, proper English but I heard just as much foul-mouthed CUSSING!

Because of this I learned an understanding of it. Who uses it, who doesn't, when people use it and when they try not to. I heard my dad converse using his extensive vocabulary minus any curse words and get his point across and I heard him put drunken sailors to shame and get his point across. I learned that all words have power and value and should be used accordingly.

So I don't teach my son that there are 'bad' words just 'inappropriate' words. There are words that he isn't allowed to use just yet until he has a better understanding of how to use them appropriately because using them in the wrong time and place could hurt someone's feelings or make someone angry. He's a very sensitive kid and hates to see someone upset  or angry so that's important to him.

"The Very Inappropriate Word" by Jim Tobin
But teaching him this understanding of language makes it easier for me to include words that we often hate to hear kids say but never take the time to explain to them why they shouldn't. For example, my son knows I get more upset hearing him say someone is stupid that hearing him say 'shit'. 'Stupid' is a personal insult, it's an attempt to cause emotional injury and it's mean, I'm not raising a mean kid. But when he says 'shit' he says it like I say it, as a show of emotion, usually out of frustration and directed inwardly. To him it's just an interjection like Yikes! or Rats! I'll drop a book and say 'Shit!' or realize we're running late and say 'Oh shit!' I don't use it in a hurtful way so neither does he. Intention is just as important as language, as far as I'm concerned and having a firm and unabashed perspective of language makes that clear.

But more importantly he learns through my example. This is the beauty and terror of being a homeschooling family, he spends the majority of his day with us, me in particular since Mar works out of the home. So he learns by what he sees me do. Oh the POWER! It's terrifying!! Until I actually paid attention and realized my kid doesn't curse! He occasionally says curse words which his father and I completely ignore, then he doesn't say it again. We don't scold him, we don't laugh, we don't give anymore attention to Fuck! than Oh bother! (He's a Pooh fan.) He has no 'shock value' associated with these words but he has an understanding of which one's are inappropriate and why. He sees me around him and other kids all day every day and I don't curse. Not at all. I especially don't use words like 'dumb' or 'stupid' or 'shut up', which to me are so much more harmful to the actual emotional growth and health of a child than 'shit' could ever be. And guess what, my son has never cursed around other kids or called another kid 'dumb' or 'stupid' or told a kid to 'shut up' and in fact gets uncomfortable seeing other's do so. He says, "They don't know those words hurt your feelings?"

But when his dad and I talk or when other grown ups come around the language changes. We allow him the same freedom (while explaining to the adults our causal policy) and he has learned to easily adapt. He might ask his favorite auntie "Why did you say 'Damn? but if he hears someone curse in public he quietly whispers the question in my ear.

So instead of censoring myself I am forced to learn because I have to teach. I have to be able to explain my actions in the most basic terms. I have to pay attention to my actions. I don't see that as censorship but self love and self growth. I'm not doing anything different, I'm just more aware of what I'm doing. I think this applies to every part of my parenting, I don't censor just act in a conscious fashion. How I eat, how I work, how I behave in front of my child. This way I'm true to my authentic self so my child learns to be true to himself. That's more important than a little shit, dontcha think?

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