5 Reasons I Swear In Front Of My Kids

by Kate Levkoff
Originally Published: 
Artwork by Wylder Levkoff, Age 8

Three years ago, my husband made a unilateral promise to our kids: Each time he or I swore, we would put a quarter in the Swear Jar. If and when the jar filled up, the money would be theirs. First of all: WTF. And second of all: Are you fucking kidding me?

I dropped $10 into the jar and explained that I was paying ahead for the summer. The kids were confused. They don’t understand currency yet, and they think that all paper money equals a million dollars, so they were excited.

My husband was truer to the spirit of the exercise and had almost wiped out our savings by the time the first leaves fell from the trees.

So after the kids cashed out, we reversed our policy decision. It was back to saying whatever the fuck we wanted. And here are five reasons why:

1. Because I am a grown-up.

Okay, so being a grown-up has fewer perks than my 11-year-old self imagined that it would (I sort of saw myself settling down with Zack Morris and finally acting blasé about menstruation while I drove a golf cart on the beach, but whatever). But one of the true benefits of adulthood is being totally free to say whatever the eff I want, whenever I want, without getting grounded. Boom! Soft benefits, baby!

2. Because they are kids.

Look, I get that I need to be setting a good example. That is why I wear pants to drop them off at school even though under my winter coat, it is not strictly necessary. But while I am on board with showing them the ropes as they grow up, they are not grown-ups yet, and until further notice, it is “do as I say and not as I do.” So they are not allowed to swear; nor are they allowed to drive, use the toaster, cross the road alone, or drink watermelon martinis. Them’s the breaks! I like to give them some shit to look forward to!

3. Because with kids, everything is baby talk, euphemisms, and indecipherable kiddie code.

Making a tinkle, doing a doodie, eating our trees, going night-night, minding our p’s and q’s, going bye-bye, using our words, and so on. I mean, who knows what the hell I am even talking about half the time. I’ve lost track. The benefit to (strategic) cursing is that it cuts through this gobbledygook. When our normally chill 8-year-old son made his sister cry out of spite, I sat him down, looked him in the eye and told him straight: Quit acting like a little shit to your sister. A couple of big blinks told me he got my point: I was not effing around.

4. Because parenting is a series of inscrutable WTF moments.

I need to give true voice to my feelings as I dig the embedded Lego Batman from my heel (ahhhgain), remove the sock from the toilet bowl (“But Mom! It looked like a paper towel”), bake and frost 24 cupcakes at 1 a.m. for the class party at 8 a.m., try to make sense of third-grade math (just no), or switch lanes on the BQE while three kids argue to the death about which of them likes cheese the most (seriously, and it’s me). I need everyone to shut the fuck up and calm the fuck down, so Mommy can figure this out.

5. Because I have given up so much shit already.

At the altar of motherhood, I have already sacrificed sleeping, sanity, perky boobs, my knowledge of popular music, career opportunities, manicured nails, all of our money, fashion, an understanding of current events, the energy to complete even a TV marathon, slim-fit jeans—I could go on. Must I also give up my communication style and my preferred mode of self-expression? Oh, fuck no, babies, no fucking way.

So if you, Mom, somehow managed to bring your sweet child(ren) into this world without howling/panting/shrieking every expletive that you know and have been able to maintain that decorum through sleepless nights, potty training, and the youthful revolts of elementary school, then congratufuckinglations. You might want to remind your little angel to put his earmuffs on before a playdate at my house, though, because he’s likely to hear some big girl words.

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