Keep Calm & Summer On, Moms.
Our best defense will be our sense of humor.
Campbell: I’m pretty tall for my age.
Carson: No you’re not.
Campbell: Carson, stop. I’m encouraging myself.
These people of mine bring the snort chortles on the regular. Mothering our girls, Carson (14) and Campbell (11), is one of the most fun things of my life. They cast barbs at each other daily, and they have a superhuman tolerance for disarray in their rooms and bathrooms. They poke along when I’m in a hurry, and they inform me of projects and baking assignments at the last minute (don’t worry about that baklava I spent all night assembling for International Field Day). They are your standard issue offspring who are often ungrateful and sassy and lazy. And they are fabulously unique and delightful all at once.
Not long ago, the girls asked what we were having for lunch, and I freed them to feed themselves (i.e., Fend for yourselves, chickadees). One announced she would have a hot dog, and the other assented. Pleased with their decisiveness and agreement, I left them to their preparations. Finding a sole bun in the pantry, the meal plan was quickly wrinkled and complicated. While the eldest set in to argue her valid claim on the bread, the youngest moved swiftly. She removed the bun and gave it a long lick, thereby sealing her procurement.
Campbell complains about school substitutes that smell like cabbage, and Carson tries to self-tan in a tea bath. Campbell claims sushi makes her gassy and tries to practice her recorder in the car while she and I run errands. Carson treats choosing a sauce at Chick-Fil-A like a major life decision, and I croon “Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus…” at the top of my lungs to numb my sensitivities and beg the immediate deliverance of my Savior.
Recently, I accompanied Campbell into her room to inspect her cleaning and found her bed-making performance to be substandard and wanting. I expressed my dissatisfaction, and she received it with uncharacteristic grace and restraint. As I turned to leave her to make repairs, she proudly contended, “You gotta admit; it’s pretty good for making it up with my feet.” I stared blankly as her confession registered. My chin dropped as my grin stretched for my ears, “I don’t even know…” I mumbled, wagging my head as laughter overflowed its banks.
This is my circus. These are my monkeys.
Motherhood is a serious business; I make no claim to the contrary. I have been so troubled, sitting alone in the wee hours of the morning writing and praying Scripture over one of my sleeping girls who was losing a fight with overwhelming anxiety. A choking mama fear hounds me when the media slices my consciousness and reminds me of rampant evil. It’s a paralyzing, unhealthy preoccupation. There is a countdown clock in my heart that alarms me with the urgency of now. I see their high school graduations across the way, and I clutch the present with hot tears blurring the view. I am genuinely afraid of the heartbreaks and hardships that transform little girls into young ladies of character and strength. They are inevitable, and I am not sure my heart can bear them.
But for now, we will belly laugh.
We will not allow our home to be so serious and rushed and busy that we miss the hilarity of it all. Motherhood is expensive in every way, so I intend to cash in on the comedy of living with rookie humans as they understand and experience life.
When Carson grouses, “C’mon, Mom! Hurry up! My fabulous is being wasted,” I will breathe and savor her wit. Allowing the hustle and self-absorption fueling it to fall like discarded crumbs this time. When Campbell responds to a request for a decreased volume with, “I can’t help it. I talk loud when I’m thirsty,” I’ll chuckle at the incongruity of that logic and commit myself to keeping her well-hydrated. I may also privately hum a hymn to stay my nerves and keep my mama soul open to whimsy.
Not only that, I’ll laugh at myself. At the sight of bedhead me pumping gas in my fuzzy snowflake pajamas and slippers because I almost ran out of gas during the morning drive. At the teacher catching me belting out Adele while carting the oldest to middle school. At the ridicule of my progeny when I cry at EVERY event they’ve ever participated in. At their mockery when I throw around outdated slang and call their friends by the wrong names.
And when I have the next interaction that goes a little something like this one…
Campbell: You don’t do math during the summer.
Me: You do do math during the summer.
Campbell: You said doo-doo.
Me: [sigh] It’s going to be a long summer.
I’ll snicker like a middle school boy and shelve the math lesson for the day.[Images: Toni Verdu Carbo, Hayden Beaumont, Aikawa Ke, & Scott Cresswell]