In my defense, it hadn't been a good afternoon.
My 6-year-old had a friend over, so I was watching five kids instead of the usual four. My 4-year-old was crying because the game he wanted to play on the computer wasn't working, my 3-month-old was crying because she wanted to nurse, and I was crying because it was Friday, my husband was late from work, and I had mastitis and a fever of 102.
Then my 2-year-old got his arm stuck in my husband's didgeridoo. The better part of an hour later, his arm was still stuck and the proverbial end of my rope was fraying fast. I was carrying him around with his arm wedged into a four-foot-long wooden cylinder, trying to reassure him that Mommy was going to find a way get him unstuck. Instead, Mommy came unstuck.
The word I yelled in the direction of the didgeridoo is one I won't bother to repeat. Suffice it to say that it did not pass the Philippians 4:8 test. As soon as the word passed my lips, I looked at my wide-eyed 2-year-old and knew I was going to hear that word again.
Eventually my daughter's friend went home, my son decided to play a different game, the baby got to nurse, and the didgeridoo parted ways from my toddler. But I couldn't take back what I said (although I did pray, really hard, that my son would just forget it). A few days later when we were back-to-school shopping, I was navigating my laden cart and four children to the checkout line when I heard my 2-year-old stop singing Vacation Bible School songs and suddenly yell, in full toddler glory, "%#*& didgeridoo!"
Boy, did that stop the back-to-school traffic.
I thought of my son, my slip, and my resulting embarrassment when I came across an outtake of Semi-Homemade's Sandra Lee swearing. After uttering another non-CT-appropriate word and grabbing her breasts, Sandra said, "All these outtakes, I want them. Here's her real personality, just splice together all the curse words!"
Thanks to the Internet, Sandra got her wish. The clip went viral, the Huffington Post called her a potty mouth, and Google now suggests "swearing" as the next word when you type in "Sandra Lee." Because what could be more fun than watching someone who presents such a nauseatingly perfect image turn out to be a real person, swears and all? "This actually made Sandra Lee seem human for the first time ever," a reader commented on Food Network Humor. "If that's the 'real' Sandra, she should show a little more of that on her shows instead of the fake plastic [bleep] she dishes out every day."
The Back to Church video currently making its rounds on the Internet emphasizes that the church—and, to a larger extent, the body of Christ—is a place where "imperfect people [are] welcome," and you can "come as you are." "Please come to my church," the video concludes, "where nobody's perfect … and where it's okay to not be okay. Really."
I wonder what would happen if I suddenly yelled "%#*& didgeridoo" while escorting my offspring to Sunday school. I'm not so curious that I'm going to try it, although at some point I will likely find out what happens when my 2-year-old says it. I'm dreading the day. It seems to be taken for granted that people (perhaps especially women, and perhaps especially Christian women) are concerned with what others think about them, but I wonder why that concern persists so strongly. Would it be the end of the world if my church family knew I lost it and swore in front of my children? Obviously it wouldn't. But still, I'd prefer them not to know.
Nobody is suffering under the delusion that I'm perfect. I know that. Yet after my slip of the tongue, my first thought was that someone was going to hear my son repeat what I'd said. I wasn't upset that I had sinned by letting unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, I was upset that somebody, someday, would find out about it. Clearly, another sin was in progress. I think it goes by the name of pride.
Is there a middle ground between fake-perfect and cussing out the didgeridoo? How can we be "real" and "authentic" while still striving for godliness? I don't have a cure-all answer, but I trust and pray that there is grace in searching for that place.
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