This is supposed to be a funny blog. Being a wife and mother of two feels ridiculous at times, especially in contrast to the relatively carefree single life I was living only six years ago. Creating perspective – taking a step back and attempting to alchemize the daily grind into humor – is a way for me to create a lasting record of this moment in time and to appreciate all that I have. Especially given that I’m prone to premature Alzheimers (“What was I about to say/do/write?”)
The value of being able to laugh at the poop in life – real and metaphorical – was drummed into me growing up in the UK, where “taking the piss” (making fun of oneself or others) is a way of life. Although I’ve had my fair share of time on the couch, pouring out my heart in therapy and attempting to find meaning in disparate strands of experiences, I try not to take it all tooooo seriously. Because if I did, I’d be incapable of moving forward, weighed down by the high stakes each life decision increasingly seems to hold. I’m trying – more and more – not to question myself. Just trust my gut and make sure that my children are learning, finding their passions and happy.
After a weekend like this one however, confronted with so much senseless violence in Arizona, it’s hard to keep a sense of humor. The political mood in this country is grim, and I face conflicting impulses: to become more politically activated or retreat into the safe cocoon of my family.
I question whether humor matters in a world where vitriol subsumes humanity and polarity replaces possibility. How do I begin to make sense of something so senseless, that truthfully doesn’t even affect me or my family directly and yet is part of the overall ethos in the country I am bringing up my children in?
I think it was child expert Terry Brazelton who said it’s the job of parents to help our children cope with the realities of the world, not to protect them from it. Our children will face all the challenges – both emotional and logistical – that we’ve learned (just) to manage. They’ll mourn deaths, celebrate births, get over disappointment, endure humiliation, taste fear and feel helpless in the face of tragedy.
I know that as a nation there’s no humor in this particular episode. But if there’s a kernel of joy in this moment of loss, it’s this: gratitude for my two little ones and the imperfect life I am creating each day. While humor may not be the most appropriate tool to lean on right now, laughter still matters. In the privacy of my little cocoon, I hope I remember to really laugh. At my shortcomings, as I put chicken nuggets on the table again instead of that home cooked chicken curry I was aiming for. With the boychild, as he dances a silly jig instead of marching straight into his bath. And with hubby, as we catch each other’s eyes in the bathroom mirror, a moment of silence between two adults as we recognize the impermanence of our lives and the aching fragility of it all.