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Keep Your Sense of Humor…

January 26, 2010

As you can see, I haven’t gotten very far with my blog re-org! I am determined to focus on that this week, and get two new series started in the coming weeks – one on the ‘inside’ of the chakras, and one on metaphysical and occult themes. These are both topics I love, and I hope you will too. And if you think they are not your thing, I encourage you to give it a try first before unsubscribing – you never know:-)

In the meantime, this weekend I watched the movie Funny People, which I really enjoyed (although it did get a bit long and indulgent at parts). It’s not really a funny movie, but it has a lot of funny moments, and more than anything it reminded me of why we need to laugh. Life overall isn’t very funny either, but if you don’t laugh while you are in it, you will be hopelessly crushed by the seriousness of your own intent. And I realized that this is one thing that unites two themes of this blog – spirituality and motherhood. In both, it helps tremendously to keep your sense of humor.

Laughter is a great way of letting go. This has been proven scientifically over and over. Laughing releases endorphins and lowers stress hormones in our system. The other two activities that do the same are sex and meditation. Some would say laughter is the least work of the three.

I once attended a spiritual workshop where we each had to think of a situation in our lives that had been really embarrassing for us, and try to tell it to the others in a way that made them laugh. Not in a self-abusive way, just funny. We were supposed to notice how the ‘sting’ of embarrassment that we felt when we initially remembered this event subsided (and if there was no sting, it wasn’t the right event for this exercise). I think this really gets to the heart of how humor and spirituality are linked. When you can laugh at something that once was not funny to you at all, you have gained some perspective. The sting of embarrassment – or even worse, shame – is like a knot inside you, and when you have come to the point where you can at least smile at it, you can untie it, let it go.

One of my favorite Buddhist books is Chogyam Trungpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism. This is not a light read. It is all about how the ego can co-opt the spiritual process, and our practice can become a way of accumulating even more baggage, instead of shedding it. And smack dab in the middle of this discussion, after dense chapters on the proper guru-student relationship and the hard vs. open paths of Buddhism, there is a chapter called ‘Sense of Humor’. And basically, it is all about how keeping your sense of humor is ultimately what will save you from spiritual materialism. It is the mark, in a way, of true self-awareness.

I am not really a funny person, and I certainly can’t write funny. But I do love to laugh. And I have realized lately that I need a bit more of this, especially in parenthood.

Similar to the spiritual workshop I mentioned above, I once attended a parent education workshop where we all had to confess our most embarrassing moments as a parent to date. I had plenty to choose from (even more now), but the two stories I told then were:

- One day when the twins were just a few weeks old, I had gotten all three kids down for a nap at the same time (a minor miracle) and was using the time to pump some breastmilk while reading a magazine (which is what passed for relaxation at that point in my life.) Then I saw the UPS guy walking up the sidewalk towards our door. In my mad dash to get to the door before he rang the doorbell or the dog started barking, either of which could have woken everyone, I forgot to re-attach my nursing bra and pull down my shirt, thus opening the door and greeting him with a full frontal. He looked downright terrified when he saw me, and I am sure that in my unshowered, sleep-deprived state, I looked completely psychotic.

- Once, I locked all three kids in the car. My eldest was 2 and the twins were around 6 months when this happened. After packing the diaper bag, getting all three of them in the car, and strapping them into their seats (all of which took about 1/2 hour in those days), I realized that the stroller I needed was not in the back. So I threw my purse and the car keys into the front seat, before shutting the car door and heading towards the stroller. I heard an ominous click when the keys hit the seat – the lock button had been triggered and I was now locked out.

My cell phone and house keys were also locked in the car. So, I ran to the neighbors and called AAA, who informed me it would be at least 45 minutes before they could get there. My neighbor, a retired fireman, suggested we call the fire department, as he said they had the equipment to unlock car doors too. So we did, and they arrived in under 3 minutes, with full sirens blaring. It turned out they did not have the right equipment to unlock our car, but their presence did attract lots of neighbors – mostly retired men (we lived in a community with lots of older people at the time). As I desperately tried to distract the kids by singing songs with my two-year old through the window, this increasingly large group of firemen and neighbors debated options for breaking into my car, and occasionally offered me completely unhelpful and patronizing advice such as, ‘you might want to put your keys in your pocket before closing the door next time’. Gee, thanks.

AAA did arrive – in less than 45 minutes – and everyone got out of the car safely. For weeks afterwards my two-year old asked me if I had my keys in my pocket every time I put her in the car, but now, at five, she seems to have forgotten it.

As you can imagine, many of the other stories shared in that parenting workshop involved infant bodily functions and/or loose diapers. The stand-out amongst these was probably the baby that projectile vomited in a priest’s face while being baptized in front of several hundred people in a cathedral. Another favorite story of mine was from a couple that had accidentally left one of their infants asleep in a car seat on the floor of the garage while they drove off to visit family. They had two preschoolers and infant twins at the time, and in the chaos of getting everyone strapped into the car, one got missed. They realized it about halfway to their destination – ten minutes or so – and frantically drove back. Luckily, the little guy was still asleep.

It’s very trendy in some circles for parents (and/or spiritual seekers) to confess all their wrongdoings, and beyond a certain point, I’m not into it. It can start to feel too cavalier, or self-punishing. But at this workshop, as we loosened up and laughed to the point we had tears streaming down our faces, it was deeply healing. Something in each of us, some pressure to be the ‘perfect parents’, was released. We realized what we all knew, but needed reminding of  – parents make mistakes, and sometimes sh*t just happens, and our kids will be OK. We will be OK.

This is what laughing is about – letting go. Realizing it will be OK, we will be OK. It’s OK if we yelled at our spouse even though we’ve been meditating for 20+ years (just hypothetically, of course) or are filled with an intense desire to flick someone off on the freeway on our way home from a class on metta (lovingkindness) practice (again, entirely hypothetical;-) We are complicated. And every time we get bogged down in self-judgment (which is not the same as discernment) more weight is added to our already heavy burden.

This seems like a good time to mention (or re-mention) a favorite spiritual blog of mine – Monk Mojo. Really, his stuff never fails to crack me up. Nothing is sacred, least of all the spiritual ego. The punchline on a recent favorite of mine is “the concept you have of yourself is pissing off the concept I have of myself.” It might be an acquired taste.

I am determined to get my blog changes done this week, so I won’t be able to do a lot of commenting elsewhere, but for any of you that make it here, I’d love to hear about things that make you laugh (or even better, your most embarrassing moments – not just about parenting either, of course.) And I’d love to hear from some of you that don’t comment often. Be brave! Share!

In the meantime, I thought I would leave you with some of my kids’ favorite current humor. For the twins (3 1/2), it’s very simple: Just put ‘poopy’ in any sentence, and they will laugh. They are my easiest audience.

My five-going-on-fifteen-year-old daughter is above ‘poopy’ humor now. She is, however, into knock-knock jokes. Here’s her current favorite:

Knock-knock.

Who’s there?

Banana.

Banana who?

Knock-knock.

Who’s there?

Banana.

Banana who?

Knock-knock.

Who’s there?

Banana.

Banana who?

Knock-knock.

Who’s there?

Orange.

Orange who?

Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

It’s really very funny in person.

Namaste-

31 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2010 9:44 pm

    Those 2 stories you related were great. You cracked me up. Such normalcy and it makes someone’s blog whole when not just the pain or the the spiritual growth or the perfection is part of it.
    Humor, humor that laughs with someone instead of at them is a joyful thing for the cells, the energy and the Soul!

  2. January 26, 2010 9:51 pm

    I am writing on my board in my kitchen: Remember, laugh. Thanks. Really laughed at your stories.

    One quick story: Last week as I was preparing for my four year old’s birthday party, I was painting my face silver (wanting to look like a cat), when the door bell rang. It was the postman with a package I needed to sign for. I had a silver face. My older children ran and hid in their rooms because they were horrified by my failed attempt to look anything like a cat. They begged me not to answer. They were worried I would scare him or better yet, he will think we are weird. I made sure I had the face paint in my hand so I could assure him of why my face was silver. I sounded so silly trying to tell him while he was trying to tell me where to sign. I think all I said was, my son’s birthday, cat, see my paint. Silly, really.

  3. Leah Grace permalink
    January 26, 2010 10:35 pm

    Thanks for such an upbeat post! A sense of humor helps.

    Though I love my kids, and was not so young when I had them, nothing prepared me for how my life would change. Women aren’t honest with each other. Most of the time…

    The overwhelming lifestyle change left me frustrated and jealous of my childless and single friends. They had freedom…to go where they wanted and do as they pleased. I burned a few relationships because I was so unhappy.

    Though I got back in shape, my body was a confused play-dough lump of my former self. And I can’t afford a tummy tuck.

    I don’t have respect as a stay-at-home mom.

    My kids are cute, fun, loving and a blessing. I adore them and would not trade them for the world.

    As for stinging moments…how about when I realized (after getting my unrealistic head out of the sand) that my husband was cheating? How many women pretend their husbands are loyal out of financial need?

    So, I am working to finding the humor. But my opinion on having kids is: look hard before you leap.

  4. January 26, 2010 10:48 pm

    Bwaaahaaahaaa!!!! I totally laughed out loud at your nursing bra incident! Thanks for the laugh! And my good friend locked her two-year-old in her car the same way you did. Not an uncommon scenario with today’s automatic locking doors.

    Also giggled at your hypothetical examples. I think you did a great job of writing funny today!

    I think I will like Monk Mojo, too. We have similar senses of humor, Lisa. This is fun to share them!

    Nicki – laughed at your story, too! Hilarious!

    My three-year-old son, Lucas, always makes me laugh. He’s really into watching “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” these days. One day, as he was watching the scene in which Professor Potts joins in on a group dance number at the fair, (The Old Bamboo, for those of you familiar with the movie) I called him to come to dinner. He said, “In a minute. I want to watch the part where they rub their penises.”

    ???!!!

    Confused, I went into the living room to see what on earth he was talking about. “There!” he shouted, pointing at the TV just as the men held their bamboo sticks horizontally in both hands and began to wiggle the sticks back and forth, right in front of their … well, you get the idea.

    Laughter is, indeed, good medicine!

    Cheers!
    Alexis

  5. mommymystic permalink*
    January 26, 2010 11:05 pm

    Well I’m glad everyone is enjoying this post. It was so much faster to write than my usual ponderous fare that i am thinking I should do this all the time!!

    Aurora – yes, laughing with someone instead of at them is exactly it, thanks for pulling that out…

    Nicki – love your story. The silly things we do, in the name of birthday parties especially, is hard to imagine before parenthood. All of mine are too young to be embarrassed by me yet, but I am sure they will be someday!!

    Leah – it sounds like you have had a really rough time. I agree that parenthood should be carefully considered, and have often written here that I find it frustrating there is not more support for the decision to remain childless – that there is social pressure on woman to have kids, for a host of reasons, not least of which is some misguided idea that it is women’s only means of fulfillment. That being said, I hope you have found or can find a community of like-minded and supportive mothers, in real life and/or online, as it makes all the difference. There are many around. I wish you well in your search…

    Alexis – OMG that is a riot. Not a phrase you want him to repeat when you’re not around to explain:-)

  6. January 26, 2010 11:07 pm

    Okay, I just spent the last 15 minutes cracking up at MonkMojo.com. Had to come back to say thanks for the link, Lisa! What a great find! Hil-arious!!! :)

  7. January 27, 2010 2:21 am

    Lisa,
    I love this post…and especially your stories!! The UPS story is way funny!!!!

    Okay:
    Child #1’s baptism. We are new parents. I’m holding child #1, face out, right before we are to go up to the baptismal font. Child #1 decides to load his diaper. Load it so that it comes out the back, and onto my white shirt (and all over him). Umm…not a pretty picture!!

    And…my daughter’s (she’s 13) favorite joke right now – discovered while watching a computer commercial on tv: IBM. Except, she think of is as I BM .

    Thanks for the laughs today!!!

  8. January 27, 2010 2:48 am

    It’s wonderful to find the lightness here…I didn’t know I needed a laugh until I found one! And my spirit is still smiling. Thanks for this gentle reminder to let the knots inside come untied. I just wish I had a good joke to share…

  9. January 27, 2010 3:07 am

    Hey Lisa

    I recall a comment you left somewhere recently that said you’d like to read more stories this year. I agree. Who doesn’t love a good story? The two you shared here are hilarious. Lance’s story reminds me of a similar incident on a plane the first time I tried to fly home with my new baby. Yuk. Then there was the time we were driving back from my mom’s after Christmas.

    “Mom, I smell something burning.”

    “I do too, Jill. Look around.”

    “Mom, it’s Jay! He’s on fire!”

    Jay was asleep in the back seat, wearing one of his new Christmas shirts, which was smoldering from a cigarette butt that blew in through his open window. Jill grabbed her soda and dashed the fire out. Jay never fully woke up and doesn’t even remember the incident. Jill loves to tell the story of the time Mom set Jay on fire. Yeah, I’m not too proud of that one but it was funny.

  10. January 27, 2010 3:11 am

    I love this post ^_^
    I don’t think I’m a funny person and I probably need lots of does of laughter. My biggest concern is, however, that my friends think I am funniest when I am in trouble. You might recall my post on getting a traffic ticket. I still don’t know why they think it’s funny — is it the way I tell the story? Or is it just me getting into trouble that is funny? Hmm…

    This reminds me of our promise to start a group of unorganized, unconventional creative adult… (Remember your post on kids on medication?)

  11. Gabriele permalink
    January 27, 2010 4:22 am

    Like the joke that the best punishment for the woman who steals your husband is to let her keep him , I am presently looking for someone to ‘steal” mine.

    No not really but I had to have scans last week and the doctor doing them repeatedly asked me how much I drank. As my meds and drink don’t mix and haven’t mixed for years I recounted how much water, herbal tea, coffee, etc I drank a day. This dizzying conversation whirled around and around and I knew that I was answering the wrong question. Carefully he suggested I seriously thought about changing my lifestyle. Baffled and vaguely frightened I went out to my husband and related all this. He had to pull over he was laughing so hard.

    He got it. This doctor meant alcoholic drinks. And the lifestyle comment also made sense …. I have this really sick liver …. but not due to the demon drink.

    I was offended and have continued to be huffy but everything Darling Man says can I get you something to drink he breaks out laughing – hence my dark thoughts about a letting a thief keep him. However this morning I can begin to see the funny side of this and why it is funny when he asks me what I want to drink!

    You are right. Laughter does give everything a easier perspective.

    Thank you. Good luck with the blog reorganisation.

  12. mommymystic permalink*
    January 27, 2010 6:09 am

    Glad everyone is getting into this one…

    Lance – I have heard a lot of leaky diaper stories (and experienced some) but that is one of the funniest…what is it about babies and baptism? Love the IBM thing too…to your daughter, IBM probably is a dinosaur…and thanks for featuring The Levity Project on your own site (anyone reading this, check it out: http://www.jungleoflife.com/2010/01/26/powered-by-laughter/

    Susan, glad this helped you smile. If you think of a good joke later, come back!

    Brenda – ooh, you are the first I’ve heard involving fire. Too funny (now, anyway.)

    Akemi – I think it is both the idea of you getting into trouble and the way you tell it…you write about so many esoteric subjects on your blog, it is just funny to imagine you dealing with this traffic cop getting a ticket…a clashing of worlds kind of thing…and I do remember the unorganized, unconventional creative adults – we are all coming out of the woodwork now it seems

    Gabriele – hehe…yes, we are all looking for someone to take our husbands (or kids) at times…or someone to buy them on ebay (something my husband and I say to each other ocassionally – inside joke.) This drink story is a riot from the outside…I am glad the sting is coming out of it for you…and I hope you feel better. May healing be yours.

  13. January 27, 2010 8:08 am

    Oh thanks so much for this Lisa. I don’t have enough laughs in my life, I think it’s why I internet! Laughed at your stories. Babies are sooo good for funny stories. My just 5 year old is right into knock knocks now and the 2 year old very into poo or bum humour.

    I have a few funnies I could write, but one that is the most simplest to write would be when I waitressed at a restaraunt once and told Jeremy that the monk fish wrapped in filo dish was really great and he passed on this tip to a colleague of his who was coming to the restaraunt I worked at. I realised that the fish wasn’t actually wrapped in filo, it was cooked in baking paper. Anyway, the colleague turned up and ordered the fish dish, I didn’t mention how it wasn’t actually wrapped in filo as I thought it was obvious. When I cleared the plates away and asked how her meal was she said it was really lovely and I didn’t put two and two together that her plate was actually clean – no baking paper. The next day at work she told Jeremy that she found the ‘pastry’ quite chewy, which he came home and told me at which point I realised what had happened! Hehe, it was so funny and caused a trickle down effect of laughs when everyone else found out (at the poor woman’s expense of course!)

  14. January 27, 2010 10:56 am

    Great, light post, fun to read, really enjoyed the knock knock joke! Yes, laughter, is a great release. Thanks!

    k

  15. January 27, 2010 1:20 pm

    Lisa, so glad I read this this morning as you brought a big smile to the start of my day. Humor is soooo good and we do take ourselves far too seriously, esp. about our “spiritual path.” I love what you shared and resonated of course, thought back on some of the crazy things that happened with me and my kids (now 19-27). I recall poopy humor very well and just went through a bout with our granddaughter. And now we have a grandson in diapers again so the poopy humor is real! Loved the Trungpa book, especially the chapter on humor. :-) xo

  16. mommymystic permalink*
    January 27, 2010 6:08 pm

    Ruth – thanks for sharing, that is hilarious! How polite of her – ‘a bit chewy’

    Kaushik – :-)

    Jan – I didn’t know you had a new grandson, congrats on that (although maybe I am quite late)…you get to experience the poopy days all over again, but with some more space and time to yourself!

  17. January 27, 2010 6:53 pm

    Hi Lisa, enjoyed the left-the-baby-behind stories, of which I’ve heard many but have none to contribute because I’ve always been paranoid I’d do it! Heard one where the baby was in the carrier on top of the car; Mom pulled away and was a block down the road before a frantic neighbour waved her over. THAT one could have ended up very unfunny indeed…but thankfully, it didn’t!

    My best toddler jape was the son’s doing, during his wear-a-cape-everywhere phase. It was early, I was on the toilet having just got up, bleary, door open to monitor the lively 3 year old son and 4 year old daughter. There was a small swoosh of the caped son’s quickstep from his room to the study. There were a few bumps and thumps, nothing serious enough to investigate, then swoosh he padded downstairs. After just a few minutes – I was finally finishing up on the toilet – swoosh he trotted upstairs again, back into the study, bump thump, then swoosh back downstairs. I meant to ask him what he was up to, but was distracted. Much later that day, we were all in the sitting room downstairs when my son said, apropos of nothing, “Look! I make hole. Look!” And sure enough, in the arms of the armchair and sofa were several inch-long gashes. We questioned him, and he took us to the study and pointed to the very, very sharp ornamental knife from our trip to Morocco. He described and pantomimed what he had done: climbed up the shelves like a ladder (so much for putting it out of reach), unsheathed it, climbed down with it (in his teeth maybe?), ran down the stairs with it (my stomach still drops when I think of this), wantonly stabbed the defenseless livingroom furniture, ran upstairs with it, climbed back up the shelf, re-sheathed it, and climbed down, all in the space of maybe 4 minutes. A budding Michael Myers? we thought. He seemed both proud and confused by his own actions, for he had never done anything remotely like that before, nor has he since.

    We all delight in this story now – he’s 12, and his sister 14. It is told to much laughter over and over, and my son’s not at all embarrassed by it. He makes a complex show of pretending to be embarrassed whilst enjoying the attention and relishing the randomness of the act, and how out of character it was.

    Kids!

  18. January 27, 2010 10:47 pm

    Ok. Your stories were hilarious! I remember a time I accidentally locked Naya in the car after an eyeglass fitting. For a two year old, she was pretty calm and even smiling. I, too was singing to her, and making funny faces while the fire department was trying to figure out how to jimmy the lock on the car. I thought she was laughing hysterically. Due to poor lighting during a gray day in winter, I couldn’t tell she was actually terrified and crying. It wasn’t funny that she was crying, but I thought it was hilarious that my funny faces and singing made her cry rather than laugh!

    Another favorite of mine is when I was having a conversation with some family about a medical topic. Another family member doubted my knowledge. I was so sure of myself, that I kept going on and on about the right answer. When we finally looked it up and I was wrong, I was really embarrassed. Now, I look back on this and laugh at the ways of the ego. I so needed to be the doctor self, the right self. It is very humbling and liberating to let all the selves go…

  19. January 28, 2010 12:46 am

    So funny that you would mentiont that knock-knock joke. It’s the only joke that I’ve ever been able to remember (from when I was a kid) and my 3 year old and I *love* to tell that knock-knock joke to each other!

  20. January 28, 2010 2:50 am

    ha ha ha!!! Thank you mommymystic, for bringing some reality into parenting ~ the fact that none of us can ever be perfect, and why would anyone want to be? There would be fewer stories to laugh at, that’s for sure! I agree with you, laughing is such a great way to free that anxious, pent up energy!! My sister is the queen of laughter, and it is contagious.

    Thanks for a great post! I am really looking forward to reading about the metaphysical & occult here, as well as the inside of the chakras … very intriguing!!

  21. January 28, 2010 3:03 am

    Oh Lisa, we all become so human when we show humor, I feel so more connected.
    Embarrassing moment. When I was pregnant I had to take my shoes off to be weight. As I did not want to bend down to pick them up as I was heavy by then, I kept them in my hands. The embarrassment I felt when the nurse told me to put my shoes down. OHHHH, I still feel it and my mother and I could not stop laughing about it either.
    Take your time with your blog refurbishment, we are all in good humor now.
    xox Wilma

  22. mommymystic permalink*
    January 28, 2010 3:48 am

    Suzanne- wow, an ornamental knife, that is too much! bathroom breaks are quite dangerous…i don’t think i’ve had one with the door closed at home since 2004, and even with that concession, that is always when they get into something…or start to bicker…either way, i am usually yelling something out the door…

    Mermaid – “Now, I look back on this and laugh at the ways of the ego”. I think this is it exactly, what Trungpa is getting at….and when we can have that in the moment the ego is acting that way, or son after, it is self-awareness, an undoing of our knots…

    Janice – that is definitely the best knock-knock joke in the 4/5 year old repertoire I think…

    Nicole – I know, I figure if we were perfect, all that would do is stress our kids out, thinking they need to be too…much better to just screw up occasionally, say we’re sorry, and laugh later…

    Wilma – I know the feeling, pregnancy can be such a self-conscious time…but I have to say, by the end, there is very little modesty left, no?

  23. January 28, 2010 2:58 pm

    Hi Lisa,

    Amen for laughter and having a sense of humor! It is so important and a concept that I highly endorse. A life without any fun or humor would be quite dull. And I don’t do dull! :)

    And I love the knock knock joke.

  24. January 28, 2010 7:05 pm

    Howd I miss this? This post literally tickled layers that needed release.

    Very Funny indeed!

  25. January 28, 2010 7:07 pm

    and I cannot spell as you can see.. lol

  26. mommymystic permalink*
    January 28, 2010 9:36 pm

    Thanks Nadia, and Carla, no one expects good spelling in comments…plus, I think Howd is a great word:-)

  27. January 29, 2010 2:27 pm

    Stories remind us the power of humour to uplift and renew us. Thanks for reminding us how the innocence and directness of children is such a light-hearted, healing part of our lives.

  28. February 19, 2010 3:15 am

    Hey..Great post!
    Laughter is the best medicine in the world..and boy, do we need some good medicine right now!
    My daughter (also 13).. her favorite joke right now..
    How do make holy water?
    Ordinary tap water and boil the hell out of it!
    When you have kids you just have to laugh.
    Keep up the great work..you have been bookmarked! So I expect more!

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  1. betaphilings » Blog Archive » Funny Baby
  2. Online Gratitude Journal January 2010 Edition #37 | Yes to Me
  3. Online Gratitude Journal January 2010 Edition #37 | Real Life Spirituality

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