Cultivate Humor In Your Home
In the sanctuary, a little boy joyfully handed his mother the Mother's Day card he had just finished for her in Sunday School. On the front were the letters M O M in glitter. The dear woman laid the treasure on the pew. When the pastor called all the mothers to the front to honor them, she heard laughter throughout the church. She assumed some sweet child had done something funny. What she didn't realize was that she had sat on her card. Across the back of her navy skirt read W O W.
At our wedding reception 22 years ago, we circulated among our guests in the church basement. I realized I had been away from my beloved's side for about 30 minutes. He was standing in front of a circle of friends who were seated. I came up behind him and slipped my arms under his. On tippy toes (he's 6' 3") I put my chin on his shoulder and nuzzled his neck. I noticed a look of horror on our guests’ faces and realized I was affectionately snuggling my husband's brother!
A sense of humor is certainly essential for enjoying motherhood. If you recognize the value of humor in your family life, you can actually increase the laughter in your home through a few simple steps.
1. Turn mistakes into humor.
This is an invaluable tool to teach your children not to take themselves too seriously or be devastated over every error they make.
My little daughter and I were vigorously exercising in the living room one morning. I looked over at her and smiled as I thought about how much I enjoyed her company and what a "bonding" moment this was. Pretty soon she said, "Mom, when I exercise with you…" I thought, "Ah, she feels the same way." She jerked me out of deep thought as she finished her sentence: "When I exercise with you... the whole house shakes."
2. Draw humor from your own life situations.
While it is not wise to laugh at others, it is always safe to laugh at yourself, and everyone will love you for it.
3. Put up your antennas for humor.
Funny things happen to funny people. Once you determine to introduce more laughter into your home, you will notice many amusing things around you that might have annoyed you before.
A three-year-old boy was entertaining himself by drawing pictures. When Grandpa asked him what he was drawing, he said it was a picture of Grandma. "It doesn't look much like Grandma to me," Grandpa replied. The boy answered, "Guess I'll put a tail on it then and call it a cow." Sometimes I think God sends children to deliver new batches of humor to earth for us all!
I was riding in the van with one of our children one day. The discussion turned to how daddy and I met. I seized that teachable moment to eloquently describe our courtship and how much we love each other. The little sweetie inquired: "Were you pretty when daddy asked you to marry him?"
4. You cannot be too self-absorbed if you are going to have a good sense of humor.
If you worry excessively about how you look, or how people are treating you, you will notice plenty about the faults of yourself and others, but you will miss the joy of many good laughs. A good sense of humor also helps you develop the wonderful characteristic of being unoffendable.
"Joy isn't the absence of sorrow, it is the presence of God."
5. Humor often disappears with burnout.
It is like the warning light on the dashboard of your car indicating the oil is low. I call it "getting grim." It happens to me when I have made my circumstances bigger than my God. I can see my problems very clearly but I have lost sight of God.
6. Keep a humor journal or file.
You WILL forget many great stories that will entertain your children and grandchildren if you don't write them down.
We homeschool our children. There are no report cards or glowing accounts of our children at parent-teacher conferences. When someone compliments us, we have to live on that compliment for a long time. One day my son told me I reminded him of Einstein. I thought happily to myself, "I am glad he has finally recognized my superior intellectual ability." He continued: "You remind me of Einstein because he had trouble with his hair, too."
Homeschooling has been a wonderful adventure, but there are some problems. Everyone is always home to mess the house up, and although we are with our children 24 hours a day, we still don't know their names! I always have an excuse to talk to myself, however. My children think I am having a parent/teacher conference!
7. Enjoy the fellowship of funny people.
Teach your children to value and encourage a sense of humor in their friends. If you usher laughter into your home, you will find yourself LIVING with delightfully funny children. It is good for them to learn what jokes are appropriate and the proper time to be funny. They WILL enjoy the wonderful success of making the family laugh.
Humor is good for your health and helps us cope with humdrum days. When I lose my perspective (as I often do) I think of one of my favorite stories:
A man was determined to take his wealth with him when he died. He prayed until the Lord finally gave in. There was one condition: he could bring only one suitcase of his wealth. The rich man decided to fill the case with gold bullion. The day came when God called him home. St. Peter greeted him, but told him he couldn't bring his suitcase. "Oh, but I have an agreement with God." the man explained. "That's unusual," said St. Peter. "Mind if I take a look?" The man opened the suitcase to reveal the shining gold bullion. St. Peter was amazed. "Why in the world would you bring in pavement?" A warped view of heaven caused a warped view of earth. Sisters, we get bent out of shape over the smallest things! Ask yourself, "Am I packing pavement here?"
In stressful moments, there are four additional questions I ask myself:
- Is this incident more important than my RELATIONSHIP with my husband/child/mother, etc.?
- Will it matter in 10 years?
- Will it matter in eternity?
- Is God still on the throne?
Occasionally, I find there is a window in time when I literally have to chose whether to laugh or cry. After one particularly grim day, dodging five children and a toddler all day, I decided I must succeed at one endeavor: getting the meal fixed on time. After bustling through preparations with humorless determination, I turned to my 10-year-old daughter and said, "Please go check on your little brother."
"What do you mean?" she replied. Now I thought, "How hard can that be? Little boy. Blonde hair. Toddles around." Calmly, through clenched teeth, I repeated my request. "Go check on your brother."
Bewildered she said, "Mom...you're holding him." He had been on my hip so long that I didn't know he was there. I almost burst into tears. I honestly had to choose whether to laugh or cry. Laughing won. My advice to you is:
When in doubt, choose to laugh.
Coffeen Illinois, USA
Allen and Martha with their seven children: Rachel (20), Aaron (19), Eva (16), Daniel (13), Emily (9), Philip (8), and Alex (5)