Mumford & Moms


I am about to reveal a “bad mother” moment, and I fully expect to receive a call or Facebook message from my spouse as soon as this post goes live.  Nevertheless, I choose to share my story in the hopes that you will avoid a similar fate.

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I love to listen to music and I have pretty eclectic taste.  Although not a fan of country, rap or “screamo,” I enjoy and appreciate the work of individual artists in any genre.  Occasionally, when I hear a relatively unknown artist featured on NPR, I download his or her latest song to my iPod.  I especially revel in sharing these discoveries with my teenage daughters.  You know, so they will see how cool I am…until this recent incident, I thought I was a cool mom.

I am driving the Mom Van one morning—taking my two younger children to school—when my 14 year old daughter asks if she can play music. She sits beside me—in the passenger seat that is also DJ’s mission control—and plugs in her iPod.

“You know,” she says casually, as she scrolls through her playlist, “that you downloaded the explicit version of that Mumford & Sons song.”

I bristle at her accusation. I always check the iTunes description for “explicit language” warnings.

“Which song is that?” I ask in my most innocent tone. The van is cruising along, but I am stalling.

“Little Lion Man.  It drops the F-bomb in the chorus,” she chides me, clearly enjoying her role in this morning’s drama.

My 10 year old son stifles a laugh—a guffaw, really—from his seat in the back row of the Mom Van.  Usually he complains that he can’t hear us talking, but he doesn’t miss a word of this exchange.

I run through the lyrics in my head: “I really f*@$!ed it up this time, didn’t I my dear?”

Yes, I did.  Swiftly, I choose a new strategy and launch my cross-examination.

“Is it on your iPod?! Has your brother listened to it?!”

“Don’t worry,” she replies calmly. “He just changes it to ‘I really messed it up’ when he sings it.”

“Yeah, it’s not big deal,” my son agrees. Then he adds, “We’ve heard you say that word plenty of times.”

I glance in the rearview mirror to see my little lion man’s widening grin.

“Well, we need to delete that song.” I smile and attempt to regain my composure. “We can see if there’s a radio version.”

This is unlikely.  Mumford & Sons are alternative and British; and they are VERY cool.

It’s clear to me now that I’m NOT a cool mom.  I’m not sure I’m a competent mom. Among my many mistakes is my occasional use of profanity, even when I know that my children may be within earshot.

Best parenting lesson I learned from my kids:  They listen to my words as carefully as they do any song lyrics.

As we pull into the carpool line, I wonder if Mumford kisses his Mom with that mouth. I unplug my daughter’s iPod as they exit the Mom Van and NPR’s Morning Edition fills the space around me.  Maybe I’ll learn something on the ride home, too.


Comments (2)

good for you that your use of profanity is only occasional! 😉 sadly, mine is more prolific, and my kids have inherited their mom’s potty mouth (and gotten in trouble with it on more than one occasion). good for J that he figured out an acceptable alternative to the F bomb – maybe he could come over and teach my teen boy a thing or two???

Well, um, in this piece I only admit to the occasional usage, and I have a feeling that my spouse will claim otherwise. The best part of writing & sharing this has been the response from other moms and their teens. And from my 17 yr old, who said it made her laugh out loud. She wasn’t in the car during this incident, but I’d bet that was a laugh of recognition, as she definitely inherited my potty mouth. Happy Mother’s Day, Lisa!

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