From November 20, 1997

For Mother’s Day, our friend Jim, who is Christian’s godfather, gave me a votive candle holder and some aromatherapy candles. The candles were supposed to dissolve stress in the lives of those who inhaled their fragrance. About a month ago, my sons were playing soccer in the house. The “indoor” soccer ball hit the candle and it went sailing across the wood floor, to be shattered when it hit the wall. My rowdy gang grew fearfully silent and all eyes fell upon mom.


A very brave nine-year-old dared to break the silence. “Geez, you know things are bad when your stress candle breaks.”


I looked up from the mess, grim-faced, and burst into laughter. Michael had effectively broken through the anger and used humor to defuse the situation.


One of my favorite proverbs is “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” My children have taught me to laugh, by their example and their inspiration. Some people are born laughing; they have wonderful senses of humor, laugh easily and make people laugh. I was a rather solemn child. But my kids make me laugh all the time. Laughter really does make us all feel better and childhood seems much funnier this time.


Patrick, our third boy, is our resident clown and he has held that position since before he could talk, though  his baby sister is an able understudy. When we moved into our new house, Patrick was a little over 18 months old.  He observed the comings and goings of various servicemen and added their titles to his ever growing vocabulary. As I was retrieving him from the car one day that summer, I noticed an ominous wetness on his bottom.


“Oh, Paddy, your diaper’s leaking.”


“My diaper’s leaking? Quick call the plumber; I’ve got a leak!” We’re still laughing about that one. 


Christian is usually the great philosopher. Serious like his mom, his humor runs deep. Occasionally though, he is so earnest, it’s funny. His friend Kevin is one of four boys and has two older sisters. Christian has decided that this is the perfect family because they fill the van and older sisters are nice to little brothers. We have explained to him that, try as we might, there will be no older sisters in his future.


He thought he had the perfect solution when he ran excitedly into the kitchen one day. “Mom, I just saw on TV how we can send 72 cents a day to these people in a poor country and they’ll send us a kid. We can ask for a boy or a girl. (I’d pick a big girl.) Can we buy two?”


“Christian, they don’t send you the child. They just use the money to help the child.”


“Mom, I know they’ll send them to us. I think they come UPS.”

If only it were that simple.


I gained a greater appreciation for the gift of laughter that my children give me continually early one morning when I inadvertently shared it with strangers. After driving my husband to work, I took the children to a bagel store in the heart of many business offices. We were clearly out of place amidst the rushed, suited, early-morning clientele. My children chatted with each other, happily unaware of workaday woes.


Patrick was in his prime, telling us stories with all the expression he could muster. He has a flair for the dramatic and his gestures and flirtations had caught the attention of several other customers. They were laughing so hard they held their sides. As we were leaving, one man stopped me. He apologized for eavesdropping and said, “When I saw a lady in here with four kids at eight in the morning, I thought you were nuts. But I’m really glad you came. That little boy made my day.”


As I buckled him into his seat, Patrick was confused and wanted to know why everyone was laughing at him. I explained that he had been blessed with a tremendous gift. He was able to tell stories and to use words to make people laugh and laughter was a wonderful thing. Michael caught the drift of the message and began to tell Patrick all the times that Patrick’s antics had made him happy. We laughed together all the way home and I thanked God for sending me angelic clowns disguised as children.

The other day, I happened upon an overstuffed envelope filled with my old columns. Most of them pre-date my time on the internet. I enjoyed some quiet time, re-acquainting myself with the young wife and mother who wrote those columns. And since I'm in need of a bit of a blogging break, I'm going to share her with you in the next few weeks. I hope you are blessed.