“Thanks! I needed that!” I’ve heard women say that a thousand times. I heard it again this weekend more times than I could count at The Hearts At Home (HAH!) conference, a huge gathering designed to help moms let loose, laugh, and learn to love their lives.
Just like a young John Goodman says in the old commercial (can you believe that was John Goodman? Who knew?), woman after woman told me how much they enjoyed the moments of laughter with the enthusiastic exclamation, “Thanks! I really needed that!” The way they said it made me think they hadn’t laughed very hard in recent memory (assuming they still had a memory after children crashed their mental party). Some went so far as to tell me that they hadn’t laughed that hard EVER, or at least not since the epidural wore off (which in itself is explainable to a degree). I completely understand where they were coming from, seeing as I am a woman AND a mom, a fact my three sons often refute. (“You’re not a girl, you’re a mom!” Whatever.)
If we as women, and more to the point, if we as moms NEED to laugh, whether it’s a silent giggle or a snorting guffaw, then why oh why do we not DO it, at least on a semi-regular basis? If we know that a night of humor, especially in the company of other women who are our same boat (the one with the mommy-sized hole in it), can help us regain our perspective and encourage us to live our lives with joy and gratitude, then why don’t we GET that for ourselves? If we’re hungry, we eat. If we’re tired, we sleep. (Ok, bad examples for moms, but you know what I mean.) If a healthy giggle infuses our hearts and minds with enough energy to press on another day, why do we feel like doing so is self-indulgence rather than self-preservation? We can only GIVE our families what we overflow with internally, so why in heaven’s name do we deprive ourselves of life-giving humor and mirth?
After all, if our child says they NEED a coat we would give them the one off our back until we could GET them one of their own, wouldn’t we? Or if our boss says he NEEDS our report to take care of business, we GET it to him in a timely manner. In the same way, if our husband says he NEEDS… oh well, you GET the picture. As women, we typically aim to please… those around us and not ourselves. We’re moms, and that’s what we do, right? That’s what is expected of us, at least it can feel that way. I’ve often joked that the word MOTHERS really stands for Making Others Time Here on Earth Really Special.
Maybe we forgo levity because we need to be reminded that moms are people too, and that we need to take care of ourselves as well as others. Perhaps we’ve also forgotten that laughter is contagious, and that when mama is happy, everyone is happy. Or perhaps it’s because we’ve forgotten that God says “a cheerful heart is good medicine,” and we need to up the dose.
One way to increase your dose is to give yourself permission to take some time for fun. Yes, fun. (Remember what that is?) Walk and talk with a friend, or call your mom and ask her to tell you a funny story from your childhood (unless you know it will make her cry). Better yet, take an evening to dine with other stress-toting mamas, and let the collective laughter oxygenate your maternal soul in a way nothing else can. Finally, make plans to see the upcoming motion picture Moms Night Out opening Mother’s Day weekend with friends or family. Let the film’s light-hearted encouragement wash over you, and see if you won’t find yourself saying… “Thanks! I needed that!”
I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Sarah Drew )April Kepner in Grey’s Anatomy & the lead in a new movie, “Mom’s Night Out.“) Check it out if you get the chance! It’s sure to bring you a good laugh.