Like mother like daughter: Baby’s got a potty mouth


Even as a toddler, Bodacious needed her mouth washed out with soap… .

by Melanie Nicholas

Twenty three years or so ago, my bestie, Baby Spice, had a baby. I loved that baby from the minute she was born, this perfect little miniature version of Baby Spice, and I dubbed her the Squirt. Whatever she wanted, I was happy to do. When the Squirt was about 31/2 or so, I got the chance to babysit her one evening. We played and ate junk food and read books for a while. When she asked me to paint her nails, I happily agreed.

When Baby Spice arrived for pick-up, I was feeling pretty accomplished! The Squirt looked so cute, she was happy and fed, and nothing had been broken on my watch! Baby Spice was less than impressed.

“Melanie! Her nails are black. She is 3. Three! And she has preschool tomorrow, at a Baptist school! I will never be able to get this off of her … .” You can imagine how the rest of the conversation went. I maintain to this very day that her nails were midnight blue with sparkles, not black. To no avail. Apparently lack of judgment is color blind.

Now, in my defense, I had never been around children before, and I had absolutely no experience with what was appropriate. Y’all know I have no filter and a potty mouth, so Baby Spice spent a lot of time covering the Squirt’s ears and saying things like, “Melanie! Little pitchers have big ears!”

And I would respond by asking, “What the (bleep) does that mean?”

Now that I am a parent, with the ability to Google, I have finally discovered the meaning. The expression means that adults have to be careful about what they say around children. The saying, which has been around since the 1500’s, refers to the large ear-shaped handles that are sometimes attached to small vessels. In other words, sometimes you are going to regret teaching your children to talk. They pour forth what you fill them with.

I know different parents have different philosophies about using profanity in front of their children. I have some friends that just let it all come out. I have other friends, like Baby Spice, that are extremely careful in front of children. The Hubs does not curse at all. So if a swear word slips out, you know something has happened that is excruciatingly painful. Me, I try to balance on the tightrope of cussing in front of other adults and keeping it clean in front of the kids.

But there is a reason I am not an acrobat.

We were headed to Abilene to see my mom last weekend when we stopped at a fast food restaurant for something to drink and a potty break. Because as all parents know, you cannot even make it an hour before someone needs to stop.

Bodacious was looking panicked, trying to get out of her seatbelt. “Hurry up, Mommy! I need to take a great big crap.”

I’m sorry. What was that? When did she turn into a 12-year-old boy? The Hubs has whipped his eyes over to me from the driver’s seat. “Nice, Melanie, really nice.”

But I swear, I did not teach her that word.

And I swear, I did not mean to do this — but I laughed. And then I laughed some more. Because it was funny in an awful, this is not my life, kind of way. First, I hate public restrooms, and there is nothing worse than trying to clean one up enough for your child to use, and then clean them and yourself up, after. They stink and they’re dirty, and I would rather my children go to the bathroom outside. But that’s frowned upon, so, you know … in we went. Second, the look on her little face, all blue eyes and freckles and perfect baby teeth, serious and emphatic, cussing like a middle-schooler.

As other parents can tell you, laughing is generally frowned upon for a behavior you do not wish to see repeated. All I can imagine her doing now is crapping it up at church and school. Or worse, in front of my mother. She will kill me.

The Hubs is trying to reel us all back in, explaining to her that it is not really appropriate for a little girl to use that word. By now I have recorded it and posted it online for everyone else to see as well.

Within minutes, I get a Facebook message from another mom.

“Thanks for the video. I watched it with my 2-year-old, and now she is sing-songing crap all over the house. Maybe you could teach your daughter a long list of expletives so we could just get that over with, too.”

Oops. Sorry! Should have posted a warning.

Little Son, so like his straight-arrow father, is taking this all in. All zen-like over his French fries.

“Well, Mom, at least she’s not saying the s-word.”

Bodacious is intrigued.

“What’s the s-word?” she asks.

“Well, if you listen long enough,” he explains, “I’m sure Mom will say it.”

Oh, (bleep)!





I think her tractor’s sexy: Re-evaluating the modern beauty pageant

by Austin Moore

Editor’s note:  Special thanks to Oklahoma cattle rancher Melanie Pennebaker for sharing her personal photographs of ranch life at Pennebaker Cattle Company. She works hard, homeschools, cans vegetables, and just about everything else a working mom can do. We think her images celebrate true beauty.

There is a princess living in my house. A 2-year-old, hell-raising, danger-seeking, pink-clad princess who has me woven around her fingers in such a way that people mistake me a set of scruffy brass knuckles. What she wants, she will get … as soon as I can figure out how it was my idea from the beginning!

But what will I do – what can I do – if she someday asks to sign up for a beauty pageant?

It may be my Southern Great Plains showing, but I simply do not understand the appeal of beauty pageants. Logically, I know there are men who watch a line of hungry women parading across their televisions in sparkling dresses clearly designed by those politically opposed to deep inhalations of breath, and find themselves getting *ahem* rumbly somewhere south of their tummies. Continue Reading

To be the people we are called to be, we have to keep our cups full

This. This is my very best cup. Park and Bodacious made this for me two years ago, a Dollar Store cup and silver and gold Sharpie. They sneaked and 'arted' and baked it, just for me, and it is one of the things I would grab if my house was on fire. Do you have a best cup, and how do you keep it full?

by Melanie Nicholas

My pastor told us a story, a fable about an ancient king coming to town. In the tale, all the families in this town are supposed to contribute a cup’s worth of their best wine to the welcome feast punch bowl, making a truly special and unique blend. But some villagers don’t bring their best wine, while others bring plain old water to dump in. Many of them say, “oh, no one will know,” or “I can’t afford it,” or “he has more, let him do it.” So instead of a vintage fit for a king, they make a bowlful of sour grapes. The moral of the story: bring your best cup forward for the king.

This. This is my very best cup. Park and Bodacious made this for me two years ago, a Dollar Store cup and silver and gold Sharpe. They sneaked and 'arted' and baked it, just for me, and it is one of the things I would grab if my house was on fire. Do you have a best cup, and how do you keep it full?

This. This is my very best cup. Park and Bodacious made this for me two years ago, a Dollar Store cup and silver and gold Sharpie. They sneaked and ‘arted’ and baked it, just for me, and it is one of the things I would grab if my house was on fire. Do you have a best cup, and how do you keep it full?

I have been thinking about the imagery all week, wondering what I give my “best cup” to. It should be my church, my husband and my kids. But man, sometimes, I feel like I am giving everyone around me Mad Dog 20/20 instead of Veuve Clicquot.

Do you ever feel that way, like a cold cup of coffee? Something that started the day off all warm and sweet, full of cream and potential, only to be left untouched too long. Or worse. Like the coffee cup with only the stain and the dregs left inside? That’s a low place to be. It’s a place a lot of women are accustomed to. It’s a dangerous place to be in, too, if you don’t try to change it.

And I mean change it. Not cover it up, ignore it or self-medicate the struggle away. This week, I read a blog post from a mom who was a marijuana smoker. Every day, after she put her kids to bed, she gets high. And she is tired of being judged for it, especially by all the wine swilling moms in her life. Now, some people are up in arms about it because pot is against the law. Breaking the law sets a bad example for kids. This perspective mystified me. And I knew it would stir up a hornet’s nest, but still, I had to ask … Is it ok to be drunk in front of your kids because you legally purchased alcohol? And don’t get me wrong – I am not taking up for Pot Mom. I wanted to make the point that being out of control in any way, unable to drive your children or care for them because of drugs or drinking, is crummy parenting. And the more I thought about the blog post, the number of responses it generated and the number of “mommy needs a drink” jokes I see (and post) each day, the more concerned I became.

Because what none of us is talking about is that there are so many moms out there that feel the need to escape from their lives. Escaping our lives is a rapidly growing market – wine sippy cups, at-home wine parties for mommies, Mom’s Night Out at bars. Big pharma is in on it, too. Prescription pill addiction is on the rise for women, especially for mothers. Chances are, you know someone sneaking their kid’s Ritalin to keep up with a crazy schedule, or regularly using Xanax to cope with stress.

And trust me, hear me: I am not judging. I know what this feels like. It is exhausting to feel like you need to be everything to everyone, so over-scheduled with things you don’t even like that you dread getting up in the mornings. It’s no secret that I struggle with depression and anxiety. And a ton of exhaustion. Parenting and working with a chronic immune disease like multiple sclerosis has been more than I could manage sometimes.

I believe in therapy, I believe in medicine. Prozac changed my life after I had Bodacious. It helped me manage my post-partum depression and anxiety, and I took it faithfully for three years. Heck, I even take an occasional Adderall, prescribed by my MS neurologist, when my debilitating MS-related fatigue kicks in. So yes, I believe in chemical intervention. But I also believe there are additional ways we can help ourselves!

I believe in rest. God commands us to keep the Sabbath, and we do. There is absolutely no work going on in the Nicholas household on Sundays. Even when the house is out of control and laundry has piled up and I have a full in-basket, Sundays are a day for church and family and rest for me. I know not everyone has that luxury, more women are working than ever before. But I urge you to look at your week and carve out some time for yourself, even if it’s only 20 minutes in the mornings to meditate, read, pray or just watch the sun come up.

I believe in saying no when you can. I talked about this with a colleague at work this week. Mom Guilt. It is a very real thing. I was feeling guilty because I came to work instead of going to volunteer at the kids’ jog-a-thon fundraiser at school. She was feeling guilty because she had gone to volunteer at school instead of coming to work the day before. “I feel like I don’t do anything well anymore,” she confessed. “I do a little here, a little there, a little at home. No one gets my best, I don’t have it to give.” Sister, I get it. In fact, I am thinking about bringing back Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” slogan. We have to start saying no to the extras that don’t bring joy or fulfillment, and we won’t feel bad about doing it. By saying no to the jog-a-thon, I feel like I created an opportunity for a mom who loves jogging to become a volunteer.

I believe in joy. Ladies, we have to find ours. Think about the things you do that bring you the most peace and satisfaction, the things that lift you and affirm you. We won’t all get to do those for a living. But we can find a way to do those things in other ways. Volunteer, go on a mission trip, start a collection drive. Baby steps add up to big feelings! Obviously, jogging does not bring me joy. But do you know what does? Writing, especially about my kids! So I said yes right away when asked to come speak about writing as a career choice. Embrace those opportunities that make you excited and insanely happy!

I believe in date nights and girl’s nights! Make the commitment to spend real time, quality time with the people you love with all your heart. Time with my Spice Girls is always the best time, the easiest way for me to heal my heart or get perspective. And yes, it will probably involve coffee or cocktails.

And I believe in you. Please know that I am not judging you, I am championing you! I want you to be the very best version of yourself that you can be. If you are struggling, especially if you are struggling in silence or in secret, please get help. There is no shame in needing a shoulder to lean on. Talk to your spouse or your friends or your pastor. You can even write to me at if you want to! There are resources available to help you. You are worth fighting for, and I want you to know that you are not alone.

Make yourself a priority. To be the very best caregivers we can be, we have to keep our cups full. Decide today, what is the single most important thing in your life? Who are the people that depend on the nourishment in your cup? And what do you need to do for yourself so that your “best cup” overflows with goodness?