The G-Rated Phraseology of Motherhood

After feeding, comforting, dressing, teaching, entertaining, and loving our children, the remaining 30% of parenting is trying not to say the f-word in front of them. When they’re babies, it’s fine, blast away if you want. But as anyone knows, when they get older, children have a knack for repeating things, and when given the choice between “Oh my Golly” and “Holy Fu*king Sh*t”, they’ll always choose to yell the latter in front of the new neighbors.

I’ve always been a big cusser — it runs in my family, and I’m not one to buck tradition — but luckily I’m able to keep it in my head, or at least mumble it. Even when I do say something audible, I’m conscious enough to go with “Oh for goodness sake”, “Geez Louise”, Holy crappola”, or something else utterly predictable.

My wife, on the other hand, after being subjected to 5 straight years of sleep deprivation, needs to let things fly out. Being a good mom, she’s unwittingly created her own organic, and unique g-rated language of anger, frustration and pain, which has evolved so much that it’s nearly impossible to discern its NC-17 roots.

She has the most difficulty containing herself when she pinches her finger on a Lego, misplaces Arlo’s water, can’t untwist the car seat harness, or any number of other things for which a foul-mouthed exclamation is the only quick cure. My recent favorite is,


“Mother Fruit” comes in three colorful variations:




and when she’s really mad,


Clearly, “fruit” appears to stem from the Latin word “fu*k”, but forFruit on a Fruit Stick” and “Holy Mother of Fruit”, replacing “fruit” with”fu*k”, doesn’t result in a phrase that makes any sense, even to the most experienced artists of expletives. These are words of a flustered and desperate woman, with a brain so bent on not cussing, that it blurts out random ridiculous things.

For instance, what is a fruit stick? I’ve heard of fruit skin, fruit strip and even fruit stripe (like the gum), but fruit stick sounds like part of a package air-dropped by the Red Cross — “Two servings of rice, one cup of water, and a fruit stick to avoid scurvy.”

And “Holy Mother of Fruit”? Is this mysterious mother a character in some kind of Gaia Bible? I think technically, the mother of fruit would be a tree, but I doubt that’s what she means. When you’re angry, frustrated or injured, yelling “TREE” wouldn’t really provide any relief. If you are a parent who yells, “TREE” when you’re frustrated, how do you enjoy living in Berkeley? I hear it’s very nice.

What are some of the ridiculous things you’ve said to avoid using the 7 words you can’t say on television?

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

429 comments On The G-Rated Phraseology of Motherhood

  • It’s all about the F sound. When you really need to drop an F-Bomb you just can’t say tree. If it doesn’t start with the f sound it’s just not satisfying.

  • Motherfather is my word of choice!

  • I am notorious for screaming “Son of a Monkey!” and when I’m really ticked it’s “Son of a Monkey Butt!” Then there’s “Mother of pearl” and “DonutHOLE!”

    • “Son Of a Monkey” is my go to phrase also, funny thing is my husband got so used to hearing it and so used to “trying” not to cuss around our girls that he yelled it one day at work, his co workers enjoyed making fun of him for that.

  • I used to say “oh sugar” a lot. Now my boys are 3 (almost 4) and 6 and I’m a much lazier parent than I used to be and I usually f–k up and say “oh s–t.” Love your blog!

  • Nothing can top Holy Mother of Fruit. Nothing. and i blurt out thing’s like “Holy Fish balls” and whatever nonsense I can think of.

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