Thursday, July 16, 2009

Joy to the World

The best thing I can do for my children is raise them in a home bursting with joy. Unabashed, no-excuses-for-laughing-obnoxiously-loud, snorting-and-squirting-milk-out-your-nose, pee-in-your-pants, jokester joy. Joy, unlike happiness that is often misconstrued as a destination, is happenstance, free, serendipitous. It prances on us unsuspectingly, melting us into giggles and grins.

Joy is a team sport.

For much of my life I thought I grew up in house that was devoid of love. I realize now that I was indeed loved, albeit shown in ways different than how Mac Daddy and I raise our children. For starters, we have marital love, which is a far cry from my house growing up. I never doubted that I was loved but I did doubt that I was adored in the same way I treat Bird and Deal. I was cared for, fed, warm, clean, educated, and given all the opportunities in the world. But no one ever tickled my funny bone. No one nurtured and caressed the orb of innocence and delight that lollygags around in all of us, especially in children. That orb shrivels if it is not stimulated. Oh no, it was not love that my home lacked. It was joy.

I have one photo of my parents laughing. I don't even know where it came from. I recognize the clothes they are wearing so I am figuring that picture is from about 1980 or so. They are looking in different directions, but it is clear that the same thing struck their funny bones. It is a beautiful candid moment that looks like the kind of picture that comes with the frame. I have never seen my dad laugh like that in person; all I have is that photo.

My home was shrouded in a veil of stress, anger, discomfort, trepidation. Those walls rarely heard laughter. We were not a family of pranksters or joke tellers. Mine was a serious house. I never learned the philosophy of work hard play hard until I went to college. We didn't play much. At least not as a family. No one played tag in the yard, built obstacle courses out of bean bag chairs and hula hoops, or trashed the kitchen decorating Christmas cookies.

We had our share of issues, as all families do. But no one was violent or drunk or enraged. We were safe. In fact, we were guarded. We lacked spontaneity, a sense of fun, and the freedom to laugh until our bellies ached and cheeks stiffened. It was not all unhappy times. But there was no joy.

The best thing I can do for, and with, my sons is chisel my face with laughlines so that they know joy and can pass it on to their own children one day. Memories of joy is what will bring them home.
Joy to the WorldSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


The Mother said...

The house that laughs together, stays together.

Especially if the food is good.

WARNING: They KEEP coming home. At some point, that's no longer the goal.

dadshouse said...

Wonderful post. Joy is a great thing to share in a family. Giddy laughs. Funny bones. I love it. My kids and I try to find as much humor in every situation that we can. Nothing beats joyful laughter.

Aunt Becky said...

probably about 90% of pictures taken of me have me, mouth hanging wide open, laughing. i hope that my kids remember this about me above all else.

San Diego Momma said...

This hit home!

Big time.

kathleen said...

Oh my gosh, this is so true. I was raised the same way and now, I agree, a home should be fun and playful, filled with love, silly things and all that!

I like what The Mother said, since a home should be filled with food, too. Although, I'm italian, so it comes with the territory!!!!

Anonymous said...

Your last sentence nails it. It's why my neighbors have a house full when it's not even a holiday. It's also why I never go back to my own family. I crave joy in this house--it IS what brings them home.

H. Brown said...

this is a post to be thankful for. joy comes in many ways, quiet and loud, but always with love, and that will always be apparent. thanks for the permission to spontaneously laugh out loud--for sheer joy!

MamaSove said...

Thank you for writing and sharing with us this very personal post. I most appreciate the way you distinguish the past from the present & future you want to build for your boys. Thanks for the reminder to regroup after growing up in a substantially less fun & fulfilling home than the one you dream of raising your own kids in. This is kinda my challenge every day as I remind myself that seeing my mom depressed & angry about her life as a mom and wife doesn't mean I need to replicate that in *my* household. ;) Joy to the Kids!!

Ilina said...

Joy to the kids indeed! I love that.

Anonymous said...

I so loved the line, "Joy is a Team Sport." You need to paint it and sell it! My goal this year is to laugh more! Smile more! Be more carefree! Sometimes, it's hard with 5 boys, especially when one pushes the stress button all the time. Thanks for the message. It was absolutely, phenomally pertinent and so well presented! It blessed me:)

Amy said...

A joy-filled home. It's great that you are working at making things better for your children.