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How Being a Mother Taught Me To Keep My Mouth Shut

how motherhood taught me how to keep my mouth shutI’ll start by acknowledging that I’m still not all that good at keeping my mouth shut. This should be obvious from the fact that I’m writing about myself on the internet.

But really, this is nothing.

Before I had kids, I was a professional confessionalist.  I blabbed inappropriately about myself in a wide range of media. Often to critical acclaim.  I painted confrontational self portraits and wrote baldly autobiographical songs. I made comics about embarrassing adolescent evenings.

I even blabbed about blabbing about myself.   Really: I released an EP named Me and My Big Mouth. And co-created an online game called Brain Filter: In the game, embarrassing pieces of information kept popping out of the mouth. The object was to try to stuff them back in. You couldn’t win.

I became a mother around the same time I started hearing the word “blog” to describe writing about yourself on the internet.

I found myself strangely uninterested, despite my history of multimedia self-expression. I think something happened to me when I became a parent. I grew a brain filter. It doesn’t work so well a lot of the time;  I still blurt out things I wish I hadn’t in front of my kids. And no matter how careful I am, being a writer pretty much ensures some brain filter failures will be archived for eternity. This may be one of them.

But now that I’m a mom, I find myself doing something I was never able to do before: occasionally catching the words before they make their way out of my mouth. Often, it’s simple things. For example: I love parmesan cheese, but not in the morning. In the morning, the smell of parmesan cheese reminds me of vomit.  I thought about mentioning this to my son on the way to school today when he was talking about foods that remind him of throw-up. But as I was about to add my piece, I stopped myself. Why give him a reason not to like parmesan cheese?

It’s part of the maternal protective instinct, I guess, realizing that it’s important to watch what you say when there are children who might hear it.  I’m still a lot less good at verbal self control than I’d like to be. But give me a little time—my brain filter is still a baby.

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