Pre-kids, I was fairly laid-back. It was easy to be carefree and fun-loving when my job was pretty much to worry only about me, myself, and I. Fast forward twelve years, and my responsibilities have broadened to include caring for my two girls, three pets, a husband, and sometimes extended family, all who have varied needs. I’m now the serious one, and I suppose I’ve embraced that, because I keep things running smoothly with my lists, planning, and schedules.
Sometimes, though, being the grown-up is a drag, and kids learn to tune their parents out. There are times when I can’t repeat myself one.more.time. No one is listening, or my kids are squabbling, or I find myself caught in “mommy mode.” I can’t remember exactly how she came about, but one day, I invented a fun-loving alter-ego, Lady Leaf Lover. She speaks in a British accent and offers only compliments and encouragement. Lady Leaf Lover doesn’t appear too often, but when she does, my girls greet her with hugs and enthusiasm. Sometimes she invites her husband, Lord Leaf Lover, to make a cameo, and he’s an even bigger goofball. The whole process gets everyone in hysterics, and whatever scuffle the Leaf Lovers interrupted is long gone. Should you introduce a Lady Leaf Lover to your parenting repertoire, and if so, how?
Pick a true alter-ego
If you’re the serious one, your alter-ego should be funny. If you’re the goofy parent, let your new character be as serious as a General. No matter who you choose, you want to both shock and crack-up your brood.
Go with a wacky name
Who IS Lady Leaf Lover, and where on Earth did she get her name? I really don’t know, but my girls googled her and couldn’t find any evidence that she’d ever posed for a photograph. Regardless, every time she surprises the girls by popping in, her trills of “Darlings! I’ve missed you!” pause any conflicts, and their attention is immediately riveted. Mrs. Smith might be funny if she tried hard enough, but an absurd name really lightens the mood.
Parents are great at giving orders and doling out consequences, but what kid is excited for that? Your alter-ego, however, offers nothing but love. When the kids are overwhelmed by a task, Lady Leaf Lover swoops in with encouragement and fun ways to get the job done. She’s patient, she’s willing to roll up her sleeves and help out a little, she doesn’t get cross, and no one gets mad at her.
Use a funny voice and/or accent
When Lady Leaf Lover first came to visit, she spoke with a British accent. That fact is both comical and unfortunate. Comical, because I am terrible at accents, and often waver into Scottish, Jamaican, even Western; unfortunate for the same reason. Her voice is high, squeaky, and silly. “Get ready for bed!” sounds much funnier when Lady Leaf Lover says it, and for some reason, my kids are more willing to listen.
Lighten the mood
Your alter-ego is your tool for when the daily parenting tricks are not working, and everyone needs a change of pace. There are times when we’re all frustrated and I know the situation could go downhill fast. At that moment, I’ll take a deep breath, quietly exit the room, and find some strength from deep within. I return with a, “Helloooo!” and everyone brightens. It’s a signal that we’ve shifted gears and turned a tense situation around. It might sound silly, but there’s a lesson there. When things are getting out of hand, it’s better to take a step back and find a positive way to deal with things rather than to let it escalate. Humor isn’t always appropriate, and there are plenty of times when I’m not in the mood. Alter-egos are like a secret weapon to be enacted only when the time is right.
Parenting is hard work. There are tantrums, disagreements, homework, and bedtime. There are times when being a parent feels easy and can be done with grace, and other times when every morsel of energy doesn’t feel like enough. There’s a time and a place for all kinds of parenting, and it helps to turn to humor when it’d be just as easy to turn to anger. Channel your inner Lady Leaf Lover, and share your experiences with our readers, below. Tootles, Darlings!