Julia has been a real Mini-Mom, lately.

This morning, after getting out of the bath, I dried off, put a towel on the toilet lid and sat down. (Morning sickness, ugh.) Then, Julia got out of the tub, dried herself off, put a towel on the lid of her potty and sat down. I started to comb my hair. She started to comb her hair. And on it went throughout the morning.

It was sweet. My little girl wants to be like her Mommy. What a compliment.

Or not.

Sometimes when someone holds a mirror up to you, you may not be happy with what you see.

On the way home from Kindermusik, Julia and I were talking. I must have said something shocking because she got a surprised look on her face and shouted, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!!?”

I know. I know! It’s shocking. I know you’re wondering where she heard something like that.

Oh okay, you know where. She heard it from me. I distinctly remember saying it yesterday on the phone, one or five times. In varying tones and inflections.

And if it’s not bad enough that she heard me saying that phrase, my response to her repeating it was no better. I did the one thing you’re not supposed to do when your child says something naughty: I laughed. She was pleased. She said it again. I was still laughing. The third time, I finally pulled the van over, collected myself and talked with her about it.

What did I say? Well, I figured I had two options. I could lie or I could be honest. I decided to lay my cards on the table. I told her that I know she heard me say that word yesterday. I told her that using bad words is bad manners and that Mommy wasn’t using her manners yesterday when she probably should have. I told her that many people – like Grandma and her teachers – find that word offensive, which means they feel bad when they hear someone say it. And so, we need to be very careful about using words like that because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. I compared using bad words to burping or leaving a stinker – it might be amusing when we’re at home and one slips out, but with other people or in public, it’s not okay.

What am I going to say? “That’s a bad word and we should never use it!” Well, I don’t believe that. If I did, she wouldn’t have caught me saying it. I’d feel like a fraud taking a stance like that. I mean, how could I ever justify being a George Carlin fan or having Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta in my iPod?

At the same time, I don’t want my three-year old marching around dropping f-bombs.

So, I tried to be as honest with her as I could. I use bad words at times. She knows. She lives with me! But she also knows when I don’t use them.

Julia is wise enough to understand that some behavior is okay here, but not there, or in the presence of this person, but not that person. She understands that certain things, like drinking pop or watching certain shows on television, are okay for grown-ups and not for kids. I think she can handle the idea that there is a place for bad words and that place is not her mouth.

Then, I told her on top of all that, if she says that word, it will get Mommy in big trouble. Then she promised she wouldn’t say it, because she didn’t want to get me in trouble. And I bought her an ice cream cone.

I’m pretty sure this takes me out of the running for Mom of the Year.