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  • Dana Webster

"What in the actual f***?"

Some things just resonate:


Here's how our pirate ship was piloted when the kids were growing up.


1. Swearing

For adults only. Meacham and Pilar heard them all. The F-word was my go-to (I still love the phrase, What in the actual f***?). In my opinion, salty language is the earned domain of parents. That's why kids don't get to drop expletives. Unless you're 3-year-old Meacham who had a passion for big trucks and was heard on many an occasion to yell out, "Look, mommy, fucks!"


2. Drinking

I drank in my teens. I stopped drinking altogether in my early 20s and didn't start again for at least 10, maybe 15, years. I remember watching TV shows where the women arrived home from a long day at the office or ended a day at home taking care of the kids; at their chosen magical hour (having already kicked off their shoes and unlatched their bra), they'd set a stylish wine glass on the kitchen counter, uncork the bottle and pour. It seemed like the worries and stress of the day just drifted away with that first sip.


I took that to heart, chose 5:00 pm (not a.m. although I’m not sure I needed to clarify that) as my magic hour, and began my very complicated relationship with red wine. It was love/hate; blessing and curse; friend and foe.


Alcoholism runs in my family. My mother confided once that her mother watered down the liquor bottles to prevent my grandfather from getting too far into the bag. And my grandfather on my dad’s side would go on benders and disappear for days at a time.


Addictions take the pleasure out of vice.


I stopped drinking wine on December 31, 2016.


3. Mutiny

I raised my children to have a voice and to use it. Sometimes I’ve regretted that but only when their argument was so reasoned and well-articulated that I couldn't mom my way out of it. When M & P were young, the popular thinking of parenting “experts” (don’t get me started) was never to use the authoritarian-sounding phrase, “because I said so.” But, and this is important, when your children know how to think for themselves and learn to trust that they know themselves better than you ever will, a parent’s defenses are few. “Because I said so” comes in handy when you simply do not have the time for debate and mutiny is not on the agenda.


Tight ship? Definitely not. I wish I knew how to do that. It feels like life with small children might have been less chaotic, more regulated and routine. But, for me, every day was a new day to reinvent the parenting wheel. Why learn from mistakes when you could just repeat them?


Now that M & P are well on their way to being adults, I take great comfort knowing that I must have done something right because they keep coming home to visit, keep texting and calling, keep sharing their lives and loves with me. We muddle through. And, I am happy to report, we do it with the full spectrum of expletives at the ready.

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Mono, ON