Saturday, April 6, 2013

The True Quiet Strength (of adulthood)

When I was younger... junior high age, roughly... I took to cussing. I remember vividly the first cuss word I ever intentionally said (after the initial, really-young, soap-in-the-mouth variety, that is). I remember where I was, why I said it, who I was with - and I have to tell you that it is a-maz-ing for me to remember all that detail, because my memory of such things is not always so hot. 

I'm the one on the front left in the oversized blue jacket - I was never one of the "in" crowd, but I had my friends.
Two of my four brothers are also in this shot
I won't identify any of them out of kindness.
And there were other words that I now recognize as being somewhat milder than "true" cuss words, but nonetheless trashy ways of talking, that I said in front of all-and-sundry because I thought it made me look grown up and tough. And it was appalling for me to say those things in a house in which "Shut Up" was considered a cuss word and a soapable offense!

And then I joined the Navy, and cussed a LOT more (sorry, Mom.) At 23, I got married, but he was in the military too and it didn't phase him much, so I continued on my merry path, not to mention my work environment wasn't always so wholesome for that. 

.....

.....

And then, I became a MOM.

"Babies" 3, 4 and 5 - Bruiser, Buttercup and Mr. Magoo

Huh. All of a sudden those words were not so grown up, not so tough, they were just

Trashy.

And now I think back on all the times my mom asked me to stop saying this word or that word and it wasn't until she gave me a verbal-backhand one day that I stopped saying "That sucks". She told me the origin of the expression. Hmmm... NOT what I wanted to be saying at 12 or 13. It was the last time I used that expression (thanks, Mom.)

And though my mom was not - and is not - the quietest person in the place (she is one of 10 children, has 6 of her own and was a trained singer - she's got VoLuMe) she didn't cuss in front of us as children. She didn't ever even say "shut up." The worst I heard my mom say before I hit adulthood was "crap." 

OOOOoooooohhhh... Such a bad word. 

And I admire her for that. For all the times she likely wanted a stronger word, she refrained. She kept it clean to give an example for her kids. Quietly, without notice, without making a show of it - she and my dad and my step-dad too, in fact, seemed to be on the same page on that. They didn't swear - or at least not in front of the children. And now that I'm striving to find the best way to do things for my kids, I'm grateful for the true tough, adult stance of quiet reservation.

What is your experience with finding the quiet strength that adults show us, but don't talk about? Was your example set with swearing, or with something else?

2 comments:

  1. My dad mowed a 2-acre yard with a push mower, at first, with the reel type. He always kept it tidy enough to look civilized, although he worked all day in a hot factory. I remember him when I don't want to work outside and sweat. I get up and get busy, in his honor.

    But nowadays, many, many seemingly delicate ladies use words I would never have used, even in my cussin' days, and they use them IN CHURCH. Like "Lordy" and "Gee".

    Soapable, to my mom's way of thinking, and I agreed. Never the Lord's Name.

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  2. I fuss at my kids for words like that too! I haven't begun to punish them for them though. I suppose that it's because there are so many *worse* words they could be trying to use. But even those words that are "replacement" words are off the list. The meaning is the same. I like your story about your dad too - than you for sharing it with us!

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I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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