Tuesday, February 14, 2012
It's not always easy to laugh
I have my parents to thank for my sense of humor.
My dad is an incredibly brilliant man. He's a nuclear physicist and has worked with top officials in our government preventing weapons of mass destruction from ever touching our shores again. He is also a complete practical joker and has the sense of humor of a twelve year old boy. Case in point was the time he put rubber ants in my bed on a night when he and my mom were having a dinner party. I am sure he thought it would scare me to death when I crawled into my bed that night but instead I picked up one of the invaders, turned on my bedroom light, and shook my head saying, "Nice try, Dad". There is also the time he set my CD alarm clock to wake me up at six o'clock in the morning and play the Sonny and Cher song, "I've got you babe" a'la Groundhog Day. That is my dad, a total joker.
My mom was less of a practical joker and more of an opportunistic comedian. She had an infectious laugh and she loved to use it. When my parents divorced my sister and I moved with our mom to a small town in the mountains of Colorado. We didn't have much money and so I started working full time at the age of fourteen to buy the things a fourteen year old girl wants. I also helped pay for the groceries a fair amount of the time. A frugal budget meant that entertainment was not too high on our list of needs; but, it was still high on our list of wants. Some of my funniest memories of my mom center around our evening of watching TV together. One time in particular we sat on the couch and watched a nature documentary about animal mating rituals. For years afterwards we would laugh hysterically whenever any of us made a monkey noise. That was my mom, finding the humor in the strangest of places.
It really shouldn't come as a surprise that when life and genetics gave me two children with autism I chose to find the humor in that too. I have said many times that if I didn't laugh I'd spend entirely too much time crying and there are times that I do both. There is nothing like a good cathartic ugly cry to provide closure to an especially harrowing day with the Trouble Brothers. Wine also helps. A lot.
When I created the Special Needs Ryan Gosling meme last week I did so to blow off some steam and help others like myself laugh a little. And boy did they laugh! My blog had over 36,000 hits last week and my Facebook and Twitter feed blew up with retweets and shares of both Part 1 and Part II. I had special needs mothers from around the world send me emails, comments on my blog and Facebook messages thanking me for one of the best laughs they had had in years. And I have to tell you that made me feel pretty damn good.
The fact is a fair portion of parenting is not fun and 0% funny. I would go a step further and say that parenting a child with special needs is even less so. Many of us cannot take traditional vacations with our family either because finances are too tight from all the therapies, medications, and various interventions or the disruption of our child(ren)'s schedule would be too traumatic and make the time away fun for absolutely no one. So we have date nights with our significant others at home after the kids are in bed. We rent movies and have a picnic on the floor in the living room. We tag team parent to that when one is caring for our child the other can get some R&R away from the house. We love hard and we learn to compromise. But for those exact same reasons we burn out from stress at an alarmingly fast rate. Think Wylie Coyote trying to outrun the rocket tied to his tail and you'd have a pretty good example of what it feels like.
We learn to cope with the stress and the fatigue in a myriad of ways. For me it has always been about making others laugh. I have been known to pull a few practical jokes on those I love and I enjoy doing humorous voice overs while watching infomercials with my family. If you try to take a picture of me chances are I am going to make a series of stupid faces. I just can't help it. Laughter is my life jacket and it is one of the first things I fall back on when life starts chucking lemons at me.
So to each and every one of you who emailed me, tweeted me, sent me a Facebook message, or direct message thanking me for making you laugh I want to say you're welcome and I hope you'll come back each week for more because I'm making the Special Needs Ryan Gosling meme a regular feature on my blog.
And thanks to my mom and dad for teaching me that it's not always easy to laugh but it is always worth it.
It's not always easy to laugh
Autism|Gotta laugh or I'll cry|Ryan Gosling|Special Needs|