I have two upcoming speaking engagements next week that I need to prepare for (lucky Thomas gets to tag along), so this will be the last post for a week or so. I hope it leaves you smiling and ready to get your laughter on with your children. I’ll be back in a few! (A fair warning: I might just pop in to post a few pictures from Thomas’s big day; he’ll be baptized on Sunday.)
Oh, and I’ll be chatting again with Brian Patrick on the Son Rise Morning Show this Friday at 8:50 a.m. Hope you can tune in!
The other day I cranked up the music in my minivan and dramatically started singing along with Elvis to “Fools Rush In.” The song wasn’t quite over when we pulled into our driveway. Neither was my performance. I put the van in park and continued belting out the song at the top of my lungs. I turned back to one of my daughters and acted as if I was serenading her. She flushed pink with happiness.
All my girls giggled. (Thomas snoozed on.)
“You’re silly,” one of them said.
I felt silly. And happy.
That hadn’t been true only an hour or so before. I woke up to a fierce fight between my 2-year-old and 4-year-old. Their piercing shrieks woke up the baby, too. He started whimpering. I wanted to whimper right along with him. I’d just spent the very early morning hours trying to get him back to sleep after he gulped down way too much of mama’s milk and was wiggly and gurgly with discomfort. I felt like yesterday had just run into today, and there was no night (or sleep) to speak of.
I bemoaned the fact that I needed sleep. I cursed myself for not being superhuman.
I considered the long day ahead. If I was to be honest with myself at that moment I loved my children as much as I had the day before, but I really didn’t feel like being their mom.
But I had no choice. There were no reinforcements. So like every other mom who doesn’t get a sick day (or a personal day to catch up on sleep), I dragged myself out of bed. My jaw was clenched. I felt terribly grumpy and stressed as we rushed to get out the door to drop Madeline off at a homeschooling activity. There was more bickering, more shrieking (from my kids and I’m afraid from me, too), and there were some tears.
It wasn’t even 9 a.m., and I already felt spent.
In the minivan, I started to pout about my miserable, sleep-deprived existence. But when Mary Elizabeth requested music, I chose a CD with some of my favorite songs on it. I cranked up the volume, and I immediately felt my spirits lift.
First, I found myself jamming to The Supremes.
“I remember Mama said. You can’t hurry love! No, you’ll just have to wait!”I crooned.
The girls looked at me like I was crazy because I was singing very, very loudly and bouncing up and down. Rachel asked me what was meant by not hurrying love. I gave her a quick lesson on being patient and living your life well even if you don’t have everything you want.
Hmmmm.…it sounded like a good lesson for me, too. Was I going to wallow in self-pity just because I didn’t sleep much or was I going to offer it up and get on with living?
Mamas teach a lot: Don’t hurry love. And: You can choose between stomping your feet and pouting when you’re tired or angry, or you can shake it off, get your groove on, be silly, laugh, and not take yourself or your parenting so seriously.
Before I became a mom, I couldn’t wait to have children to entertain. I was a naturally goofy, dramatic person. I loved making my friends laugh, but occasionally my jokes fell flat. Yet, I knew my children – at least when they were young – would be a forgiving audience. They’d think I was a delightful hoot just like Amelia Bedelia or Larry the Cucumber. (Am I the only mom out there who finds Larry’s Silly Songs absolutely hilarious? I laugh aloud when I listen to them. My kids love it that a singing vegetable makes their mommy giggle.)
This wasn’t wishful thinking. My kids do love it when I act goofy. We had so much fun in the minivan that day, and I no longer felt grumpy. My patience reservoir was refilled. The music and laughter – my own and my kids’ – energized me.
I may sometimes disappoint myself and my kids as a mother, but I do a lot of things right, too – like acting like a total goof ball and reminding my children you’re never too old to laugh, sing, dance, or jam out in a minivan.