In the spirit of trying to yell less, love more, and give my boys more focused one-on-one hands-on time together, I’ve really been enjoying having fun with my boys. And with fun often comes laughter. Some days it can be a little too loud and a little overwhelming. But when the boys grow up and move out, I still want the walls in our home to ring with the laughter, fun and love that we shared as family.
Moms, we need to be spreading joy and sharing the cheerfulness in our homes. It is okay to loosen up, to let go and laugh.
I would like to share with you an article I wrote, “Go On — Laugh a Little; it’s OK to cut loose and be silly” (first published in “Parenting of Fort Wayne” September 2010). That was almost 3 years ago when we were new parents. However, it holds as true now with 3 kids as it did when our little family started.
Young Turks by Rod Stewart comes across the radio. A little girl with brown pigtails and contagious laughter spins and dances crazily around the room. That was me 28 years ago, but not much has changed. Today it is a Beastie Boys song or something “old school” that will cause me to bust out the running man and a whole variety of spaz dances. My husband thinks it is amusing and thumbs through a playlist of songs to keep the entertainment going. My almost 2-year old son, Connor, used to stare at me in amazement wondering what happened to Mommy. Now he has adapted his own crazy style of spin/slam dancing that brings a roar of laughter to whoever is in the room.
My husband has a very different personality and sense of humor than most of my family and I do. He is much more subtle with his emotions. No outbreaks of laughter. No fits of anger. No extreme happiness. Just a pleasant and calm personality. He never does (or even says) anything embarrassing. He doesn’t sing to the radio even when he’s alone in his car and rarely laughs aloud at jokes. When we first started dating, I used to pinch him and ask if he was okay because I wasn’t sure how to take him. We’ve been together for seven years now and I still beg him to be goofy with me. His response, however, is that he lives vicariously through me and I am crazy enough for the both of us. Therefore, the day that I first heard him makeup a story for our son, my heart melted. Connor had a raggedy-looking stuffed monkey named Momo. Brad was telling Connor that Momo was a “flying ninja monkey with a jetpack.” Connor, only a few months old at that time, just giggled his newborn giggle, smiling and cooing at Daddy’s story. It was that priceless moment where your heart overflows with happiness and spreads a smile of joy across your face.
Thankfully, I’ve had a lifetime of happy memories, of silliness, and laughter. I think back to my imaginary friend, Calvert, and all the fun I had with him as a kid going to our pretend movie theater on the sofa, and how my mom would have to pack a lunch for him to take to work with my dad every day. (Little did I know that Dad was really the one eating it.) I remember the way I used to run up and down in front of our house whenever I heard the ice cream truck coming in hopes that my grandpa, who lived across the street, would see me and buy me a frozen treat. And how funny it was when my cousin, Mandy, and I tied her younger brother up in his sleep and put girl’s perfume on him. I’ve always had a loud hearty laugh that made others laugh too.
Why am I telling you all these small personal details? For nothing more than to point out that it is okay to cut loose and be silly. I look at my child and see his smiling face, his bright eyes, the wide grin he sports, and am thankful that he is such a happy child. Just like me, he too has a loud hearty laugh. He laughs at the smallest things. He laughs when he’s excited. He laughs when he’s being chased. He laughs at books and cartoons. He laughs at himself. I’ve even taught him to do a funny laugh which is too funny not to laugh at in turn.
I often look at him and wonder why we, as adults and parents, don’t laugh more. Where did our child-like innocence and joy go? You’ve heard the clichéd saying that laughter is the best medicine. But in all honesty, it is. In hard times, laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on. However, Merriam Webster defines laughter as “a cause of merriment.” It is an outward expression of amusement. It is the fastest way to connect two hearts. And with it comes the happy memories you want for you and your children.
So your objective for today is to allow yourself to let go and laugh with your children. You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.
Here’s to hoping you have a good head-thrown-back, loud belly laugh today!