Parents shouldn’t always be serious

By Anita Doberman: Columnist

When was the last time you really laughed out loud? If you have to think for a while before you answer, it was too long ago.

I am not talking about smiling or a polite chuckle. I am talking about a real heartfelt laugh with teary eyes.

I happened to have one of those great laughs a few days ago with my children, and realized that I hadn’t had so much fun in way too long.

With my husband gone again, I have been working double duty with our kids, the house, the lawn, the cars, the pets, you get the picture. I have tried to quickly transform myself into a mommy/daddy superparent, nurturing, fun, efficient and caring.

Usually, when my husband is home, he gets to play “fun daddy.” He lets the kids jump all over him, chases and swings them around, and plays lots of physical games they love. At night, he tells them a story titled “Sammy Snake,” where our children are heroes who have to free the town from this dangerous snake named Sammy – they always succeed.

While my husband plays with the kids or tells them a story, I am usually doing the laundry, folding clothes, cooking. Unfortunately when he is gone, there is no one to entertain my kids while I do these chores, and it becomes harder for me to be “fun mommy” while I am trying to get everyone ready to bed, and I forget to have fun with them.

A few days ago my 3-year-old daughter Eva smeared ketchup on her check while eating dinner. Her siblings were laughing and told me to see how funny Eva looked. I immediately said it wasn’t humorous and she needed to clean her face and wash her hands, adding, “How many times do I have to tell you to eat properly? You guys don’t laugh, it’s not funny!”

As I said this, I realized that Eva looked really funny and I wasn’t able to see the unforgettable things my children were doing because I was too tired or overwhelmed to enjoy this simple moment.

Not that I want my children to have poor manners at the table, but Eva looked comical and I started laughing out loud, letting myself go. The more I laughed the more my children laughed, all five of them, including the baby.

It felt so good to laugh with tears in my eyes that I started chasing my kids, and we played for more than an hour of pure fun.

It’s not important that I didn’t do the dishes, or cleaned the mess we made playing, or that I didn’t finish the laundry that night.

Living a precious moment of fun with my children is what it’s all about.

We spend so much time being practical parents that we forget to enjoy our little ones. Sometimes we have to consciously remind ourselves we also need to laugh with them to make the special memories we’ll always cherish.

Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. The family expects to be moving to Cannon Air Force Base in the next year. Contact her at: