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Last month, after a particular challenging hour/day/week/month/year, I blew up at my kids and used four million trillion F bombs. I was blinded with frustration, rage, frustrated rage and ragey frustrated frustration. Are you fucking serious with this fucking shit fuck shit fuck fuck fucking fuck what the fuck fucking fucking fuckity fuck fuck ...
That is not an excuse for my actions, of course. I know that it was wrong of me to say what I said because I felt terrible afterwards. Their faces reflected my own frustration. And fear. They were stunned, mouths agape, nudging each other with their elbows.
So I apologized. I hugged them one by one. And then as a group. I explained to them how I was feeling, why I lost it.
"I ... sometimes I just feel very ... and I can't ... and ..."
We ate our dinner in silence. I fucked up. Again. But also, I felt ... better? I felt relieved to have finally gone there. To have quieted the noise in my head AND my house.
I mean, sure, I could have screamed into a pillow. But a pillow wasn't fighting with her sisters. A pillow wasn't throwing Legos down the hallway. A pillow wasn't arguing with me as I tried to turn the TV off.
A person was. And another person. And another person.
With all the people. And all the Legos. And all the feelings.
After dinner, we went on business as usual. I read stories. Sang songs. Said our I love yous. What happened had happened and we had all moved on. Except for Archer who was staring at the ceiling as I climbed into bed with him.
"I understand. When I'm really mad, I say bad words, too. Not out loud, but quietly," he said. I whisper them."
We then went on to talk about the power of words. We discussed when it is and isn't appropriate to use them. We talked about breaking points, how we all have them and it's okay. It's okay to bust wide open sometimes. We all do it. We talked about how sometimes it feels good to say the things we're not supposed to say and how—so long as they don't harm another with their pointedness—they can be almost empowering.
"Sometimes it feels good to break through the fence and go AHHKAHHHJHSJJAKDS!"
"It's easy to punish for words like "fuck" because the entire world is already telling my kids that 'fuck' is a bad word. I mean, I don't even have to tell Archer not to say 'shit' because he already knows he shouldn't. Because I feel like it's all of the other words we should be concerned with ... the words the media okays and peers throw around like no big deal."
Several weeks after my Big Blowout of 2015, I found myself alone with Archer after school, both of us working side by side at the kitchen table.
He had had a particularly frustrating day, made worse by two separate incidents that occurred back to back as he finished his homework. I thought back to the conversation we had had weeks ago, about bad words and wanting to say them sometimes. And I decided that the time was right to do something drastic and important. It was time to blow off some steam before we blew up at each other.
"I'm going to count to 3 and then then we are both going to scream the worst of all the four-letter words at the top our lungs until we feel better."
"And you're not going to be mad at me?"
"Not if you're not going to be mad at me."
And that's how, on a Thursday afternoon, my 10-year-old son and I found ourselves screaming, "Fuckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!" at the top of our lungs.
We just needed to clear the air. To exhale. To get it all out. Because we all have fucks to give, let's be clear. And it's OK to have them. It's OK to carry them around and it's OK to get them out. If the time is right. And the time was right.
We high fived each other through bits and spurts of laughter and tears and went back to the kitchen table to finish our work, onward and upward.
The power of "fuck," man. It's real. And sometimes? It's necessary to get under its power and have a moment.