(A little baby humor I came across to set the mood for my new post)

At 31, life has taught me a few things.  Among others, coffee makes me a more likeable person; wine, laughter, and friends are essential to my sanity; you can’t fight the pear shape if you’re Greek; and seriousness can often be an unfortunate side effect of age.  When I look back on myself as a child, it seems like imagination, creativity, and courage came easier.  Maybe the fun and freedom fades a little when your responsibilities start piling up and your playhouse has been replaced by a real house with a mortgage.  But life can’t be all serious when you grow up; I’ve always felt happiest when I balance responsibility with playfulness.  It’s easy to focus on the serious side because to-do lists keep growing, but it can be harder to focus on the playful side.  How do you fit silly, uncontained laughter in between grocery shopping and balancing the checkbook?

At 8 years old, the balance came naturally.  My oversized eyeglasses to correct my nearsightedness said “serious”, but their bright red color said “silly”.  When my head started to throb from memorizing state capitals at school, the bell would ring and it was time for a crazy game of four-square during recess.  After I spent a couple hours on my homework, I could blow off steam by exploring my mother’s spice cabinet and creating concoctions to force feed my little brother.  Cinnamon-Oregano-Salt Surprise was his favorite, in case you’re wondering.

As an adult, I often get lost in my routine and I forget to make time for fun.  Sometimes I only realize the fun is missing when I slow down enough to realize I’m feeling burnt out or bored.  What I’ve noticed as my son gets older and develops quite a personality is that he reminds me to be balanced.  I can’t be very serious around a 7-month old.  For instance, I’ll bring him home from daycare and I’ll still be sporting my furrowed brow from a long day at work.  I pick him up and out of the blue, he lets out a loud fart and smiles at me proudly.  Or I’ll find myself breaking out some dance moves for him when he’s crying.  He laughs the hardest at my “running man” and “dougie” dances, although my husband usually looks on with a combination of disbelief and shame.  Not to mention the shows I put on for him with his stuffed animals…he is easily amused by his giraffe singing personalized raps for him (“You got poopie in your diaper but you’re still lookin cool/Cuz the ladies like the saggy pants and a little bit of drool”).

The point is–everything is new again when I’m experiencing it with him.  I’m not looking at things through my jaded, 31-year old eyes.  I can see things through his eyes now and everything seems a little more interesting and magical.  He makes it easy to tap into imagination, creativity, and courage.  After all, I would have never been courageous enough to bust out all of my dance moves in front of my husband when we first met.  I may have scared him away.  But now he’s stuck with me.  And even worse for him, now that our son is here, I’m going to keep telling my dumb jokes and making up my ridiculous raps because I finally have someone who laughs at them.  I have to take advantage of that now before he becomes a teenager and suddenly I’m not funny at all.