Sunday, October 25, 2009

Solomon, Laughter, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

The above wisdom from Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 has been such a help to me over the years.  We had been married only sixteen months when we buried our first baby, a boy we named Isaac Abraham.  In those months of intense grief following his death, I would look at our wedding pictures and marvel at how happy and innocent we looked (even though we were 33 and 40 at the time).  How could we have known the doom that would come upon us, just sixteen months later?  As I mourned, I read this passage many times.  It reminded me that the doom wouldn't last forever.

And it didn't; God was faithful.  We knew joy again, and we knew we were richer for having wept.

After we became engaged, I wanted intimacy with my love so very much.  But we waited.  It was one of the hardest things I've had to do, but once again, these verses helped.  I repeated over and over in my mind that there was "a time to embrace and a time to refrain".

Right now my husband in under intense pressure while he takes these extremely technical computer courses.  There is massive reading and sometimes as many as twelve new terms to memorize on just two pages of text.  He isn't sleeping much and he's a horrible, stressed-out grouch.  The first exam should be taken in two weeks time, so that it's out of the way before they start a new topic--networking.

He can no longer help around here, so every detail of our lives has fallen on me.  Cooking relaxes him so he insists on continuing with that for now.  Going to the store alone (and blogging) are about the only relaxation activities I can grab, and even they have to be done quickly.

Once again, I've gone to Solomon's book for wisdom on how we might navigate these times.

What stands out at me now?  "A time to be silent and a time to speak" and "A time to weep and a time to laugh".

The being silent part is necessary wisdom for me now because my husband is driving me crazy!  Enough said there.  I don't want to sound like a drippy faucet!

Laughter is an often overlooked tool in families with serious parents.  We are guilty of overlooking it, and we simply can't make that mistake right now.  I picked up Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, by Betty MacDonald, for 25 cents during a recent thrift store visit.  Last night I began reading this treasure of a book to the children.  Oh, how we laughed!  It's a must-have read aloud!

Here is an excerpt:

The little girl's name was Mary Lou Robertson and she was eight years old and quite fat, and she was running away from home.  She told Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle all this after she had drunk three cups of cambric tea and eaten seven sugar cookies.  She said, "I'm running away from home because I hate to wash dishes.  All I do is wash dishes. I am just a servant.  Dishes! Dishes! Dishes!  Wash, dry, put away.  That's all I do.  My mother doesn't love me at all.  She isn't my real mother, anyway.  She probably got me out of an orphanage just to wash her dishes."  Mary Lou began to cry again, so that the eighth sugar cooky got quite soggy before she finished it.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle said, "Isn't she your real mother?"
Mary Lou said, "She says she is but no real mother would make you wash dishes.  Wash dishes!  Wash dishes!"

"Now that's a funny thing," said Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.  "I mean your hating to wash dishes so much, because you see, I like to wash dishes.  In fact I enjoy washing dishes so much that a cause of great sorrow to me is the fact that the only dishes I must wash are for Wag, Lightfoot and me (her dog and cat).  Three or four dishes a meal, that is all."

In the next two pages Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle uses fantasy (a beautiful princess and a witch) to transform Mary Lou's hatred of dishes into a profound love of cleaning the whole kitchen, to perfection--dishes included.

I don't really like witches, but that part is a fraction of the whole book.  Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, once very lonely, becomes the best friend of all the area children.  They come to play every day after school, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, in a Mary Poppin's kind of way, teaches them the lessons of life--without them having a hint of her motives.  It's truly hilarious!  My boys were mesmerized, and we all had fits of giggling.

Laughter, like exercise, chocolate and sex, releases those very important mood-elevating endorphins.  I've learned that since laughter doesn't roll out of us naturally, I must consciously bring it into the house.  Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is our answer right now!