If you’re a mom of small children, do you ever find yourself resenting the daily grind and responsibilities of caring for little ones? Of course you do! During this blog series one of my primary goals is to put my arm around your shoulder and remind you that:
- You’re not alone
- Don’t be condemned by your/your children’s sinful choices
- You’re gonna miss this
- Sooner than you think you’ll be looking up to them
(If you haven’t read those posts yet you can scroll down to do so.) Motherhood is like any other hard work: it’s tiring. Day after day you do the same things over and over. I want to share with you a really effective secret to offset the challenges of your often wearisome life. So here’s what I want to tell you today: effective mothers know how to laugh.
My mother taught me to laugh at my children. As a grandmother I now know why she so easily found humor in the things my kids said and did. She laughed as she told me that 2-year-old Josh put a booger in her mouth during worship one Sunday morning (she thought it was part of his chewing gum). Laughed when she tripped over one of the kids shoes and heard a little voice yelling, “Wow Nannie, your underwear is huge!” Laughed when antics that tempted me to be frustrated with interruptions and changed plans sent her scurrying to the bathroom because laughter pressure sends lots of older mothers running to pee.
She taught me well. While I worked hard to teach and train my kids, I also loved laughing at them. (Still do!) Laughter takes the edge off training and even disciplining them. Before Mom moved in with us for her last 8 years she and I talked on the phone almost daily. Her favorite part of the conversation was when I shared a funny thing or two that happened that day — and as soon as we got off the phone I knew she was calling one of her sisters to brighten their day with the latest grandkid story. Knowing how much Mom loved to laugh at my kids helped me look for and find humor in things that may have otherwise left me scowling.
Don’t get me wrong; I still got irritated. But when I would complain to Mom about finding clean and folded sheets turned into a fort in the boys room or finally discovering a bunch of missing apples in the toilet, her guffaws reminded me that laughter really is “good medicine.”
Recently a friend commented that she noticed how much our family laughs together. Hmmm…sometimes the laughter is in the form of mocking that we don’t know is hurtful (usually to one of us girls). But she’s right. We love to laugh. Mom taught us that. And without her reminders I think I would have taken motherhood way too seriously.
“Taken motherhood too seriously?” you ask. “Motherhood is the most serious thing ever! And if I laugh at my kids they won’t take me seriously. Surely you’re not saying I should encourage their wrong behavior or attitudes by laughing at them?!?”
Motherhood is the.most.serious.thing you will do with your life. Nurturing little people and doing your part to prepare them to be mature, wise, courageous and godly young adults is no small task! Rearing little boys and girls to embrace their roles and responsibilities in the home, church and society is…well…really serious.
But take it from a woman who has devoted nearly thirty-five years to the weighty responsibilities of raising kids: laughing at them is really important.
Sometimes you can’t let them see you laugh. Like the time 9-year-old Janelle ran headlong down the basketball court in the wrong direction but eager to score with her Nannie screaming, “Go, MIssy! Go!!!!” Or the time 4-year-old Josh “bathed” his little sister in (clean, thankfully!) toilet water using Mommy’s maxipads. Or the day I found my toddler sons in a fist fight for the first (and only, thankfully!) time and had to stop chuckling before I broke it up.
Even when letting them see your grins could embarrass them or minimize the wrong of what they’re doing, grin secretly on. Kids are funny and sometimes Moms can’t see the forest for the trees. Enjoying the wonder and hilarity of having little kids around makes the weight more bearable.
Once I realized that I needed to be a laughing mom I decided that the first words out of my mouth to Benny would be something funny the kids did or said. Prior to that I found myself looking forward to him calling or walking in the door because I could finally let off some of the days’ steam. I wanted something — sympathy? thanks? comfort? help? — so I too often unleashed my woes from the day onto my husband.
What a difference it made to let my first comments to him about the day be funny ones. Like the time Josh, Jaime and I searched for nearly 30 minutes for 3-year-old Jesse, only to find him in the kitchen closet patiently waiting to say “Boo!” to me as I walked by. In earlier years I would have complained about how exasperated I was by him not responding to our repeated calls — and how Daddy needed to talk to him about how important it is to respect and respond to Mommy and how dinner was gonna be late because I wasted thirty minutes looking for his son.
Stop and think about the things your kids did months or years ago that resulted in you being mad or frustrated or tardy — but that you now hold as endearing memories that make you smile. Why not smile sooner rather than later? Being a mother gives you a front row seat to a multi-year comedy club! American’s Funniest Home Videos is happening at your house multiple times throughout the weeks and months. When you walk in to get a 2-year-old up one morning and find poop finger painted on the walls above the crib, you can think, “Perfect. Just how I wanted to start my day! Thanks, kid.” Or you can stop for a second and fast forward to the day when you’ll tell his or her fiance about this. So go grab your camera.
If it’ll be funny later, it can be funny now.