During my senior year in highschool, I was cast in a school play as the drunk, abused mother of a highschool girl who committed suicide. It was a dark and intense role requiring committed and nuanced acting prowess.
Long story short, I was unimaginably terrible. The peak moment of my terrible-ness was when I started laughing out loud at my fake-daughter’s fake-funeral.
I bring this up to tell you that:
- Acting has never been my forte, and
- I can trace my laughing at the wrong thing problem as far back as my teen years, at least.
Piano recitals, sermons, funerals, weddings, lectures, interventions – all of these environments are nightmares for me and I’ve laughed through each of them with leave-the-room level intensity.
Now, I can see my unorthodox sense of humor shaping the humor of my family. When Ever was about three, she was obsessed with discussing “pee pees” and “booties.” I know this is true of most preschoolers, but Brandon and I thought it was the funniest thing, so we kind of indulged her. While parents around us sternly whispered “no potty talk” to their own children, our rule was “only potty talk with Mommy and Daddy (and a few of our more peppery-type family members).”
Brandon and I often talk about the millions of seemingly inconsequential decisions we make as parents every day.
- “Yes, you can make a tower out of the raisin boxes.”
- “No, you can’t jump off of that chair.”
- “Yes, you can lick the refrigerator.”
- “No, you can’t put snow in your socks.”
- “Yes, you can put your entire body inside my pillowcase and roll around on the floor, tonight, but not tomorrow. Only on Fridays.”
- “No, you can’t do your pee pee dance at your play date today.”
- “Yes, you can wear swim goggles in the shower.”
We want to do well and we try to be serious about the important stuff, but when it comes to all the millions of little questions that get hurled at us, we’re mostly just trying to keep track of what we’ve said so we can stay consistent. Obviously you can’t ride your pogo stick while holding your John Smith figurine, because…that’s a thing we said once for some reason!
I think laughter is a theme in our home. And I love that. But, I’ve been thinking lately…are we laughing at the right things? Are we focused on the best things? Suddenly, I’ve been convicted about my lack of intentionality. What am I laughing at? What gets my smile and my approval?
Do I smile at kindness and generosity? Am I teaching my girls to laugh at something silly and fun or to laugh at something that might nudge their hearts the wrong direction?
I’m not saying my goal as a mom needs to be ensuring Ever doesn’t make potty jokes. I am saying I want to live in light of the fact that all of my yesses and nos and laughter and tears are shaping her future. I’m only five years deep into this parenting thing, and I can already spot so many mistakes I’ve made. Thank God that, as a sharp cookie at my church named Angie put it, “I cannot mess my kids up so much that Christ cannot redeem them.”
I still don’t think that letting Ever wear swim goggles in the shower or put snow in her socks will do any long-term damage. And even now, I don’t know that I’d trade my voice memo recording of the “pee pees and booties song” for anything in the world, but I want to pray about being more intentional in the way I parent and live my life and laugh at life and answer the many millions of questions from my daughters. The Holy Spirit can help me filter out the arbitrary decisions from the life-shaping ones. He can lead me to love and laugh with my family in a way that reminds our hearts of Jesus. I know that. I want that. I only hope that I might want it more than Ever wants to lick the refrigerator.