My husband is a woodworker, among many gifts. One of these days (when he isn’t so busy) I’m going to persuade him to make me a plaque and it’s going to read in simple (ok. Maybe in pretty scrolly) letters three words : Embrace the silliness.

What do I mean? Well, families, especially, but not only, second-time-arounders, struggle to connect. For us who are beginning again, there is a lot on our plates from the get-go, a lot of extra hearts to figure into this version of wedded bliss.

As a long-single momma used to her own thing, however stressful it was, it was still MY own thing, and, as such, difficult to surrender when I agreed again to this wonderful, crazy adventure called marriage. Blending, they call it. Beautiful, blessed, and, at times, outright childish, murky watercolor mixing, I’d say. Rarely seamless, holes poked in the paper, sometimes dark and drippy. You have to scrutinize carefully to see any of the pretty in some of the work, any ray of color beneath the surface.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s hope itself to be granted this chance to begin again. But, there is also this, well, juggling act, this balancing and rebalancing that happens as you learn the way to bring it all in sync.

Here’s the thing about individuals. We’re IN.DI.VID.U.AL.

Over here is your way.

Over there is his way.

Then, there is the kids’ way. (Yes, as parents, we have the ultimate say, but to dismiss the idea kids have their own way of thought is to set yourself up for disaster from the start.)

Ok. That established, somewhere in all these ways of being and doing, there has to be a coming together, a place where colors blend without being eclipsed by each other, each one’s particular beauty allowed to shine through.

I sure don’t have a lot of answers. In these three years, there have been screaming matches that left us all hoarse, tear-streaked faces huddled in knees, choked, broken apologies and determined conversations aiming towards that most aching of desires, the need to scrape up courage and try again, to attempt conveying better the value of what we feel for one another, to treasure the unexpected God-given gift that is each other.

And that is where embracing the silliness comes in.

You ever have one of those days that starts out going down the tubes, and just gets blacker from there? You feel so thundercloud dark and emotionally damp you fear you’ll either snap or drown. Never mind the fact you slowly take everyone with you. And then, something goofy happens.

You spill the juice. Its wiggly shape look like a profile of Elvis, spreading to make him fatter on the old cracked tile of the kitchen floor.

The baby giggles and decides to make himself an oatmeal toupee.

Hubby takes a phone call midshave and proceeds to walk around the house with half a mustache.

Pretty soon, it’s time for lunch, puncuated with jokes and good-natured pokes, silly face contests and biscuits over-soaked with honey, your middle son chuckling as he has to eat it with a fork.

Swiftly, we find this followed by a mad, breathless chase round this wonderful hundred year old barn of a place, Dad and kids taking turns in the lead.

It ends with collapses in laughter and movies on the couch , saying the lines in our best imitations, having one wicked awesome popcorn-tickle fight, blizzards of buttery white falling to the floor around us.

Or we boogie our best boogie to whatever music we happen upon, each with our signature moves and ultra-cool song stylings.

Parodies galore, funky accents, and mispronunciations just for fun.

Or we celebrate the little things.

David made it to the potty? Party on, Dude!

A decent grade in a tough subject? Rock that over to the fridge with your bad self.

Beat that daunting round of Super Mario? Hardy congratulations, old chap.

Or we might just settle in a peaceful silence on a snowy day, catching our collective breaths, each with our thoughts, but resting in the knowledge of each other. In how we have each others’ backs at days’ end.

In family.

The family God placed us lonely souls in. In all its stumbly, bumbly, grumpy, jumpy, yippee-skippy glory.

But if we stay in that place of dark colors, and don’t look closer to see the kaleidoscope of crazy combinations underneath that somehow fit despite the insanity, we’ll miss out on the art of living. And definitely on the art of living with each other.

And if we don’t learn to embrace the silliness? Well, then, we miss out on what makes that art worth looking at.

The surprisingly glorious joy infused within it, as only our God can when He gets ahold of the messy, poked-hole papers we create on our own.

So, families, in the blender or no, embrace the inner silly inside with all you’ve got. I’m not always there, believe you me, but I CAN attest to so many times in my life when laughter triumphs the dark.

I truly believe it’s the strength-giver Nehemiah 8:10 speaks of. Not necessarily laughing in denial of depression or strife, but, perhaps, finding a reason to laugh in SPITE of it.


Marisa Ulrich

Marisa Ulrich is a mom of four, two autistic, two “typicals," living in one of those great old fixer-uppers in rural Kansas. She is in a blessed second marriage with the handyman of her dreams. Her writing has appeared in Autism Parenting and Zoom Autism. Her first book, Broken Cookies Taste Just as Sweet: The Amazing Grace of Motherhood, Marriage, and Miracles on the Spectrum is set to debut July 19th via eLectio publishing. Join her ongoing thoughts on Facebook, and online at