I haven’t published anything I’ve written for six months. I suppose that work, family, soccer, and pregnancy muddled my brain and left me without energy to edit and share my crazy thoughts. During this hiatus, I’ve continued to write for myself but more importantly, life has marched on. A friend once commented on a previous post that we needed a reality show to be filmed in our home. I appreciate that the stories I share about my life are entertaining and relatable to others, but was left feeling a little insecure about her comment. Is my life more chaotic than most? Are my boys more random and wild than most? Surely not… In order to reduce the self scrutiny and ease bubbling social insecurities, I’m telling myself that the adventures in my home are typical antics with atypical documentation. Kids are funny. All kids. Life is funny. All life. We just need to do a better job recognizing the joy in the every day. We need to do a better job recognizing life’s unique sense of timing. During the moments when life stressors roll in like a heavy fog, it is even more important to seek out the joy. I cling tightly to the old homage that one can choose whether to laugh or cry. Of course there are moments in which the tears flow freely and with recent hormonal surges there have been more tears than I care to admit. Typical stressors like having to return to work following maternity leave, anxiety, being worried about money, car trouble, learning to balance three kids, ongoing house projects, and fatigue muddle my brain and threaten to mute the laughter at times. Thankfully, I am surrounded by joy; piercing, invasive, and persistent joy.
Be it “a God thing” or the ability to independently create moments of joy, life presents needed moments of joy at the most opportune moments. Have you noticed life’s perfect comedic timing?
My grandfather loved sports, especially life sports. He was the ultimate fan and he didn’t hold back his vocal support of the teams he loved. As he got older, his timing slipped. His once witty and well timed loud comments to officials, became delayed and a bit more random. I remember noticing this age-related change as a heart-wrenching clue that he was aging and this introduced me to the sobering concept of the finality of life. Rather than cry at his obvious aging and cognitive changes, our family found humor in his shouts for referees to clean their windshields (?) or other instructions given once the game play had moved on to something else. These funny game day goofs were made all the funnier by my Grandma’s eye rolling and head shaking. Although, to be perfectly candid, Grandma’s response to Grandpa’s heckling remained the same over the years.
Someone once said that an infant reveals their smile when the mom needs it most. I’ve found this to be true three times now. Just when you feel as though you will never sleep again or that your nipples are going to fall off your body, a sweet smile starts in that newborn’s eyes and washes over their entire being. Perfection. I dare anyone to feel sullen or angry when these early grins happen. In my fatigued, postpartum state, I found (and keep finding) myself holding Norah at odd angles to force her to make eye contact. I then make the strangest faces and noises in hopes that she will reward me with those perfect smiles. The truth is that she isn’t going to smile on command, I have to wait with baited breath for her timing.
At the ripe old age of 9 1/2, (How long do we maintain the importance of the halves? I may begin planning my 37 1/2 party?) Logan is becoming more and more aware of the value of timing. He is presently working diligently to discover the secret of perfectly timing requests for additional privileges. For example, waiting until I’m busy nursing or completely overwhelmed to manipulate the outcome in his favor. He has also been working on his comedic timing. His sarcastic rebuttals vary between being inappropriate arguments and genius observations. We, as parents, are faced with the task of helping him differentiate the two with hopes that he uses this knowledge to keep himself out of trouble. As he becomes more aware of the power of humor, he also has become more aware of various humor platforms. In the past year he has followed a couple sassy behaviors with a request for me to post it on Facebook. Nope. While I do enjoy sharing our antics, I don’t want him to “play up” behaviors for some sort of misguided attempt to “Kardashian.” He enjoys when I share “timehop” reminders of his past silliness but we’ve talked a lot about how these stories were funny because he wasn’t trying to be funny. Again, it is all about timing.
Jack, on the other hand, is a natural born entertainer. His sense of comedic timing is an instinct. He is wild, carefree, and so full of joy. While Logan is my physical daredevil, Jack is my social daredevil. He is a pleaser and seeks moments to make those around him laugh. This effort is combined with his general goofiness to create a mashup of chaotic joy. I giggled once when he called me “Mr. Mommy” and so I’ve become “Mr. Mommy” every time.
Jack and Logan have proven to be a perfect comedic team. Logan recognizes the importance of timing and Jack has natural timing. Yesterday, as we drove to my niece’s birthday party, I told Logan that my niece was having a sleepover with lots of her friends so there would be lots of girls when we arrived. Logan groaned, partly because of the prospect of spending the afternoon with giggling girls and partly due to my teasing him about being a “soccer stud” around the ladies. I jokingly told him he needed to wink and say “Hello Ladies!” upon our arrival. He told me in no uncertain terms, that he would NEVER say anything of the sort. He then paused, grinned, and said “But Jack will!?” Logan then spent the next few minutes teaching Jack to point and said “Hello Ladies!” When we arrived to the party, the lesson was seemingly forgotten when then boys laid eyes on a giant inflatable water slide in the yard. They joined the girls on the slide and had a fantastic time. Several hours later, it was time to say goodbye. Before leaving, we prompted Jack to potty. Since he was wet and had muddy feet, we took him to the side of the house and asked him to pee on the privacy fence. (Note: If you aren’t a boy mom, this probably seems inappropriate. Peeing on things is a hobby for my boys. Most trees and rocks in my yard, have been watered by Logan, Jack, and…ahem…Trey. Norah will not be encouraged to pee on fences…unless there is an emergency.) Jack pulled his swim trunks all the way down to his ankles and leaned his body forward against the fence to do his business. Logan was mortified and pleading with the adults to stop Jack. In that moment, something clicked in Jack’s little mind. This was his moment! He turned around, pants still ALL the way down, began waving, and shouted “Goodbye Ladies!” Timing. Perfect comedic timing. Trey, Logan, and I laughed the ENTIRE way home. Logan remarked that this story was going to be one repeated anytime we tell stories about Jack. Poor kid already has a bit of a legacy at age 3!?
As life progresses through natural hills and valleys, tears will flow and laughter will roll. I pray that with these kids and my sidekick, we will continue to seek out joy. I have faith that one of life’s gifts will continue to be perfectly timed moments of this type of relief.