Cadge me a Curse Word

img_5623Recently my use of ‘Mummy Words’ (mostly ending in uck) has increased exponentially. I seem to be in a permanent grump, with the children, the dog, the weather, the traffic. And it expresses itself in short sharp swear words.

I did wonder if it’s because of some of the parenting blogs I follow on Facebook, that make swearing not just okay but a fundamental part of surviving parenthood. My favourite at the moment is Peter and Jane. If you haven’t come across it, and you have children living at home (or indeed a husband addicted to gadgets or a judgy dog) and you don’t mind more than a few words ending in *uck and *wat, then I highly recommend it. It’s easily the highlight of my day, although possibly it contributes to my rage by vicarious experience and empathy.

But, thinking about it more recently, I have realised what swearing is to me at the moment. It’s a packet of cigarettes.

I started smoking when I was fourteen and realised it was the only way to get a break when working in catering. I did a summer stint in a posh burger bar at Goodwood Races, and soon joined the girls having a crafty fag in the ladies toilets.

I rarely smoked excessively. Only when I absolutely hated my first proper job, shortly before having a breakdown and quitting everything, did I reach anything like a twenty-a-day habit. Then it was because two other girls I worked with were having a hard time too, and the ‘Fancy one?’ email used to come from one of us to the other two at least every half an hour.

I quit smoking when I went travelling in New Zealand and realised I couldn’t possibly afford it. Until I fell for the manager of a hostel I was staying in, and learned how to roll my own so I could cadge a light on the hostel steps – the only way I’ve ever known how to strike up a conversation with a stranger. It worked too, we lived together for a while.

Of course I quit smoking for good over eight years ago, when I discovered I was pregnant. I can honestly say I haven’t had a single one since. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve inhaled deeply a few times when passing someone with a roll-up or a Marlboro Light.

I am a hypocrite too, because I hate smoking now with the zeal of the quitter. I don’t even like people vaping near my children, and I’m amazed anyone still does it.


At times like this, when I’m super-stressed, and the world feels out of control, and people are asking things of me left and right, and the children are being vile, and the weather is awful, and I just want it All. To. Stop. I miss it.

I miss drawing deeply in anger on a burning stick, I miss the camaraderie of the cadged fag. I miss the control. The doing something. The reason to be still for five minutes to do nothing but breathe, even if it is breathing toxic life-ending chemicals.

I realise that my current addiction to coffee, my previous need for a glass of wine every night, my constant search for chocolate or cakes or something to feed the soul hole, are all part of the same thing. Trying to fill the void. Trying to find control in chaos.

And my latest addiction? (Apart from wine and coffee and chocolate and sleep). Swearing. Being able to use forbidden words. Relishing the bite of them. Giving myself permission to tell the family to FO to their face, however wrong it is, just to take back the wheel of my life and who I am as a person.

I love my family. I love my life. I remember being shocked when my doctor asked me in a judgemental way if I didn’t like my children and regretted having them, when I explained my antidepressant dose didn’t seem to be enough to survive the summer holidays. And I couldn’t put into words the dichotomy of love and hate, of giving everything for them but yearning for something for me, the finding of self in being a mother but the massive loss of the self I used to be. The loving being needed but the suffocating prison of it. The days when I can’t breathe because of the pressure of needing to be a person I’m intrinsically not inside: calm, patient, loving, tactile, organised, nurturing.

And on those days I go back to my life working in a bar, or travelling, or hanging out with educated women who say fuck, and I swear.

And I love it.

Can I cadge a swear word?

4 thoughts on “Cadge me a Curse Word

  1. I stopped drinking for good when I got pregnant with my son. I don’t really miss the drinking, I miss the person I was and the life I had back then. So I hear you. And yes I cuss in front of the small child, careful to remind him that he can’t.

  2. I am told that swearing is a sign of intelligence. My dad and I giggle endlessly about swearing and I have a similar appreciation society for profanity forming with McMini. I also hear you re time. I only have one kid but I have elderly parents a long way away and so I have to visit them once a week too … well … I have to if I’m going to like myself as a person! 😉 Hang in. I’ll have to check that Mum blog though.

    • My kids are developing the cadence of swearing, although they’re not allowed to use ‘mummy’s words’ obviously! I remember when the youngest was 2 and nursery said in a shocked voice “He told another child to shut up, I don’t know where he learned it!” and I said “He learned it from me.” Oops. My daughter uses ‘freakin’ which is a bit close for comfort, but she uses it with style!

      Ooh and I so understand doing things to continue liking yourself as a person, although in some things I’m developing a thick enough skin to accept my own disapproval (or, more usually, the disapproval of people I don’t really care about that much). Toughie though.

      • Mine said fuck at nursery and told them ‘mummy says it when she thinks I cannot hear her’. I nearly sank a few years ago when I realised that I would never look after my parents the way they looked after theirs. But they were local and I was in my 20s at the time, not 8. Eventually I got help and did some cognitive behavioural therapy. It was ace and I managed to accept that there was a finite amount of stuff I could do. I have to be a mum first and a daughter second and luckily they’re fine with that. Indeed I think having small grand children has been a real tonic to them. Also, I think that while we can’t always like ourselves, it helped me accept my limitations and learn to work within those rather than setting myself impossible tasks. I think I do quite like myself now, but it took a lot of work and I couldn’t have done it without the cbt 🙂

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