Dictionary.com first definition of turning point is “” That’s way too melodramatic for me, especially the last two phrases about crisis and critical moment.
As I see my life, I have had a series of little turning points, moments of course correction where I wasn’t completely off course in a critical, churning storm of chaos and crisis but I was meandering slowly down a path that would not be pleasant if I stayed on it.
Last night, I was celebrating my anniversary a little early with my husband. We were chattering and laughing, and my mind went to a time when I wasn’t so relaxed and free, a moment where I knew things had to change.
My husband and I had just started dating, and he’d already met my kids in a fun atmosphere of their choosing (we’ve not gone rollerskating as a family in a long time since). I had decided to expose my husband to a full dinner with my entire extended family, not just my kids, but my mother and siblings too.
He made it to the house, and he’d chosen to stay despite my lack of clutter management skills (which have vastly improved, by the way). We sat down as a family, said grace, and passed food. We bantered and chattered throughout the evening. We were close to the end of dinner.
To that point, my “baby” brother had been well behaved. Usually, he manages to get me giggling convulsively to the point I can’t breathe. If I try to eat while he’s at his antics, I inhale corn or choke on spaghetti or snort beverages out my nose; it’s just not pretty. He’s quick and sharp, and he uses physical humor as elegantly as he uses intellectual humor and male (disgusting) humor.
Right before dessert, my brother just could not resist. The urge to make me laugh just overwhelmed his ability to resist temptation. He started with his funny voices and physical antics and faces. Then, my boyfriend who became my husband started; he didn’t miss a beat, and he picked up in every opening my brother made. The two of them did this mysterious and funny tango of words and actions that left me in bad shape. They just fed off each other in a synergistic series of comments and gestures and antics. I was totally unprepared.
I was overpowered. Undone. Laughing hysterically. Barely able to breathe with sides splitting. Snorting and coughing. Until I saw the faces on the twins…
They were scared. They didn’t laugh, and they just looked at me like something was wrong with me.
Although the laughter was overpowering, mentally I was at one of those turning points. If my kids were scared by me laughing, our family had a crisis of sorts. It meant that I had gotten far too serious and wrapped up in my own world to appreciate the little things. I was too focused on adult stuff to enjoy a flour battle as we baked together or the humor in an embarrassing incident during the day. I wasn’t sharing with them how to find joy and life in the midst of stress and schedules and agendas.
So, we started baking once in a while together and laughing at the failures (I’ve now expanded beyond desserts). I started watching the kiddie movies and laughing wildly at the humor. I started sharing my embarrassing moments at work (picture a slip slid down around my ankles as I walk in the door) and how to recover (river dance until the slip slides off and you can stuff it in your pocketbook).
And they now know mom is okay when she laughs.