Can I Stop Swearing Before My Baby Is Born?

Snapshots of life at home.
Nov. 19 2012 3:45 AM

Baby Blue Streak

Can I stop swearing before my daughter is born?

(Continued from Page 1)

The irreversibility of the effects of cursing around my kid was enough to give me pause. And even though I couldn’t find any hard-and-fast proof that my baby is going to emerge from the womb sounding like a pint-sized Sarah Silverman, once called to my attention, all those fucks emerging from my mouth started to sound unduly harsh. And worse, I started fearing that my gleeful use of profanity was really just verbal laziness. I curse because it’s fun, but also for extra emphasis. When every other word is unprintable, those words lose their significance.

I decided on an experiment: Could I cut down on my cursing for a month? My husband suggested that every time I used profanity, I had to buy him a Blu-ray DVD. I also briefly considered a good, old-fashioned swear jar.

But I started with a kind of mindfulness exercise. I tend to speak incredibly quickly, and so for four weeks, I tried to become my own network-TV style, time-delayed censor while talking aloud.  Considering I am so pregnant that I need a pulley system to sit in the upright position, I knew quitting cursing entirely would be an uphill battle. The mindfulness experiment would accomplish two things: It would help me distinguish between necessary and excessive cursing, and it would begin training my not to curse as such an automatic response—the better to curb it around the babe.


I started the experiment at a wedding of an old college friend.  It was easy not to curse there, not just because it was an entirely joyful occasion, but also because I was fully comfortable. I’ve known these people for over a decade, and I feel accepted by them fairly unconditionally—which made me realize, embarrassingly, that even though I’m 30, I still use cursing to sound badass. This is vaguely pathetic, and I’d like to stop this variety of expletive use.

Keeping it clean became much more difficult the day my husband and I got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the West Side Highway because of a biker parade. Seriously. As we were shepherded into two lanes to watch the bikers ride by with a police escort, I felt entirely comfortable muttering to my husband, “What. The. Fuck.” I truly believe that even the most devout Mormon would permit himself a “flipping” when faced with traffic-related agita—even when babies are involved. This kind of frustration-related outburst can stay.

On my next DoubleX Gabfest appearance, I spoke more slowly and clearly than I usually do. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time that a Gabfest I’ve been on did not get an “explicit” tag on iTunes. But honestly I sounded a little constipated. Part of the fun of those appearances is the exuberance that goes along with a heated conversation. When you’re taking such pains to stifle yourself, something is lost along the way.  To punctuate a rousing debate—which I doubt I will be having with my nonverbal baby—cursing can be a useful tool.

Even though my month-long experiment in mindfulness is over, I am still doing my best not to curse. (All bets are off during labor, though.) I don’t think swearing is a scourge, but I really want my daughter to be able to understand the context of expletives before she starts using them. It took me three decades to figure it out for myself, and I hope she’s quicker than her mama is.

Though I don’t kid myself that I can control everything that her lil’ ears take in, not cursing around her is one small thing I can manage. Will I be able to prevent myself from laughing the first time she says something like, “Oh shit, I slipped”? I’m not a fucking saint.



Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Learns That Breaking Up a Country Is Hard to Do

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!


Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 19 2014 11:36 AM Breaking Up Countries Is Still Hard to Do
Sept. 19 2014 12:09 PM How Accelerators Have Changed Startup Funding
The Vault
Sept. 19 2014 12:08 PM The CIA Used to Have a Commute-By-Canoe Club. One Member's Memories
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 12:10 PM Watch the Trailer for Big Eyes, a Tim Burton Movie About People With Normal-Sized Eyes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 11:40 AM Apple Invented the Perfect Way to Handle Your Giant New Phone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.