Living naturally, most of the time.

The importance of laughter

This post is part of the first Humor in Parenting (and Breastfeeding!) Blog Carnival inspired by the anthology Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding, a collection edited by Rachel Epp Buller and published by Demeter Press in August 2013. The anthology looks at the lighter side of nursing. All of its contributors found something funny to say about their days as a non-stop milk shop, even if it was a tough job to have.

This carnival celebrates the craziness that is parenting and asks the question of how we use humor to get through our days, or minutes, or years. Just what’s so funny about being a parent? And why is it so important to make life with kids funny even when it doesn’t exactly seem hilarious?

Please share widely and connect us with other funny parents who are blogging and Tweeting. Use the hashtags #funnybreastfeeding and #humorcarnival along with whatever witty originals you come up with. Those ought to be worth some laughs, too!

See below for links to the other contributors. And, as you might have said to your nursling once upon a time, enjoy the buffet!

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When I first thought we’d have a blog carnival around the publication of Have Milk, Will Travel, I figured I might write about what happened after my son weaned at three (see my essay in the book about that excerpted at Mothering.com) or how different things were nursing my daughter, who came along a year later but weaned at 22 months.

But since the carnival is about humor more than it is about straight up breastfeeding, I’ve been trying to think of something new and hilarious but am coming up empty. Kind of like my boobs have been for a year and a half.

It occurs to me just how much my outlook on things changed the second time around the parenting block. It has been both harder and more important to laugh.

toddler with sunglasses

When I had my son seven and a half years ago, I was determined to stay upbeat and not teach him that life was one big downer. I read books like Playful Parenting and How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen before he could even walk. I did everything I could to avoid snapping or saying “No,” and all these efforts did often help me stay positive. Sometimes faking it is half the battle. I really felt like I was learning how to be a reasonably fun person just so I wouldn’t screw him up and make him a dour little puss.

But after I had my daughter, my body broke down. Digestive issues and adrenal fatigue took hold, and I had to go on an insanely strict diet that lasted for two years. As I try now to think about my sense of humor, I feel like it kind of fell into the toilet about the time her poop started to reflect that she wasn’t just nursing anymore. Some women welcome the break from the boob when their baby starts eating, but since she was such a quick and efficient nurser, moving her to solids was just one more thing to think about, one more series of steps in my already overactive kitchen.

dancing child with silk over head

I feel bad for my kids and for my husband if it seemed like I didn’t do a lot of laughing for a while. Maybe it’s less apparent from the outside than the inside, and it certainly hasn’t truncated my kids’ ability to laugh. They are both boisterous and hearty, especially the three-year-old who has no qualms about snorting. It’s true that laughter is infectious, especially when your daughter is channeling a pasture-fed pig.

And, come to think of it, she is quick to suggest, “That’s silly!” for anything that’s slightly askew, so I must be moderately successful at diffusing imperfect situations often enough without harsh grumpiness. It really does work to head off tantrums to make up stupid shit, be it me or my husband or my son. Whenever I witness this in my three-year-old, I try to take note for myself.

It is so important to take everything with a grain. And with a grin.

dancing laughing child

I feel like I grew up thinking — make that knowing — that the past still haunted my parents. They were still disappointed or even resentful by actions of their parents, or of the world. It was hard to hear and to know that I couldn’t make things right for them. Nothing could, it seemed. I’m sure they laughed, but it’s not an image or a sound I can call to mind from my childhood, so I’m guessing it didn’t happen a whole lot. Or maybe it was partly my gluten-addled brain that kept me from seeing the lighter side of anything. In any case, the memory of not laughing a lot or even wanting to laugh much has been an inspiration to me as a parent, to act like things are funny even when I don’t think they really are just so my kids won’t grow up to struggle so much with levity. I want humor and happiness to come naturally to them. Is that so crazy?

toddler tasting toilet paper

I really do want my kids to consider laughter their first weapon. It can be so healing.  After I read The Last Best Cure about the physiological and thus emotional changes that occur in the body and mind when one is laughing, I did a few forced laughing sessions. Apparently your brain doesn’t know you are faking laughter and it goes right ahead and does good things. Even just a few minutes helped me break through to a new place. I bet even more would feel even better!

When I do catch myself snapping instead of finding the fun in something fairly innocuous or easily remedied, I immediately try to dust off the grouch in my voice and try to explain to my kids why I lost it to my kids and reassure them that it will be okay, whatever the annoyance was. And then I look for something we can laugh about.

It occurs to me with some regret that this post is not very funny. Sorry. Sometimes I feel really damn serious about the fact that: Too much seriousness sucks for kids. And for adults!

It was a hoot to read the essays  in Have Milk. What an inspiration to read how so many women found such humor through engorgement and pumping in crazy places and supplementing. I have two essays in the collection. The very act of revising one so that it would fit the call for “comic nursing stories” was healing; it forced me to let go of the grumpier parts of the story and revel in the raucous and racy ones.

Seriously, sometimes all you have to do is fake it to feel better.

toddler with Laugh onesie

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Please check out these the other submissions to our humor carnival:

In “I Will Sleep When I’m Dead,” Zoie at TouchstoneZ needs some sleep but her kids have other ideas.Contributor badge Have Milk - 200

In “Laugh or looney bin,” Virginia of Ready or Not Mom shares how laughter (and tears) got her and her husband through two NICU stays and a whole lot more.  “Just call me Bessie…on the move” shows some love for a nursing mom without a lot of spare time on her hands.

In “Boobs Are in the House,” Jenny of Half Crunchy Mom shares how her love affair with her nursing breasts was hindered only by the act of pumping, but she found a way to party with the pump.

In “Send in the Nipple Clowns,” Kerry of Pickle Me This shares a story in which a mother who hasn’t slept more than three hours in a row for six months reflects back on the comedy of her breastfeeding life.

And, from Have Milk contributors:

In “The importance of laughter,” Jessica Claire Haney of Crunchy-Chewy Mama gets serious about looking for humor with her kids where her own parents didn’t.

In “Underwater” and “Excuse Me,” Adriann Cocker of Cockerchat muses on the absurdity of parenting while leading a hip loft lifestyle in downtown Los Angeles.

In “Dinner’s not ready but we had fun today,” Jenn of Alcantarians shares some hilarious photos and explains why she chooses to laugh.

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To learn more about Have Milk, Will Travel, or to buy a copy for your favorite mom (or the people who love her), visit the Have Milk page at Demeter Press or on Amazon.

See how much Literary Mama liked the book at this review.

Keep up with readings and happenings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HaveMilkWillTravel and follow the book’s feed on Twitter at @HaveMilkTravel.

 

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One Response to “The importance of laughter”

  1. Great post! I completely agree that looking for the laughter keeps parenting fun. And the photos really had me smiling.

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  1. Humor Carnival Recap | Rachel Epp Buller - […] “The Importance of Laughter,” Jessica Claire Haney of Crunchy-Chewy Mama gets serious about looking for humor with her […]
  2. Boobs Are In The House | Half Crunchy Mom - […] “The importance of laughter,” Jessica Claire Haney of Crunchy-Chewy Mama gets serious about looking for humor with her kids …

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