Giggle, Don’t Grieve

posted by Momo Fali on April 22, 2012

“If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.” -Erma Bombeck

When I tell people what I do for a living, it is inevitable that they will ask, “What do you write about?”

My usual reply is, “I write a humor blog. A lot of the posts are about my son who has sub-threshold autism, congenital heart disease, moderate hearing loss, a missing tear duct, and he often chokes and vomits.” Then I’ll follow with, “Isn’t that hilarious?! Just wait until I tell you about all of his surgeries!”

One of the best things about attending the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop this weekend was that no one looked at me like I had two heads when I gave them that answer. They understood that it’s okay to laugh at bad situations.

Sure, humor can come from light, but quite frequently it comes from someplace dark. It is how many a comedian or author has coped with tragedy and pain. It’s how I cope with mine. That, and peanut butter, but that’s another story.

Let me ask you a few questions: Are you going through a tough time? Are you laughing anyway? Why the heck not?

At the closing keynote of the Erma workshop, humorist, Gina Barreca, talked about motivational quotes; specifically, the one that says, “Bloom where you’re planted.” She urged us NOT to follow that advice.

Instead of being forced into the ground where someone else has decided to plant you, she told us to pick up and plant ourselves where WE choose. I agree. If you want to grow, move to an open, sunlit area free of all of the suffocating dirt. And, worms. Unless you like worms, in which case you should move yourself to a compost pile.

For me, laughter is the sun. It is where I go when I need to pull myself away from the weeds and it is what has saved me from going mad because of all the curve-balls life has thrown my way. Don’t worry, I won’t go from gardening metaphors to baseball metaphors. Well, other than that curve-ball thing. And, to be honest, it’s kind of killing me not to say something about line-drives.

My point is that it’s good to laugh. It’s good for for the heart, the soul, the mind and for laundry detergent manufacturers. Don’t tell me you’ve never peed your pants while laughing. No, really. Don’t tell me. *pauses writing to concentrate on kegels*

Listen to Erma, Gina and me (please excuse my lack of modesty while I insert myself into a sentence with those two legends), especially when I tell you that you owe me money. Or, when I tell you to laugh.

Because if you can laugh in the face of adversity your plant will flower through every season.

And that, my friends, feels a lot like hitting one out of the park.


  • ascapecodturns

    Yay! Awesome Momo! I am so glad that you were able to go to this conference. Maybe I should put it in my calendar for 2 years from now, because I really really want to go!!!

  • Momo Fali

    Sue, it was so good to laugh A LOT and it felt validating to know that people don’t think I’m crazy for writing on this topic. They may think I’m crazy for other things, but not that!

  • Jenna Consolo

    I totally agree with you. I’ve been in situations where I’ve cracked jokes about uncomfortable situations I’ve been dealing with and at first others are shocked, and then they realize the commonality in suffering and pain and it feels like such a relief to laugh at what can’t be avoided. And it gives them permission to laugh at their own pain as well.

    And I’m totally with you on the peanut butter thing too.

  • Kristin

    I agree. I enjoy humor blogs when people use kind humor or authentic self-deprecating humor. Sadly, I’ve seen a few posts lately from people who feel it’s their duty to criticize in a cackling, finger-pointing way without offering any depth to their criticism. True humor is a lot more difficult than sharpening the daggers of insult.

    Thank you for working hard at it!

  • Wendi

    Oh, this is fabulous. As are you. Loved laughing with you.

  • Headless Mom

    It’s why I love you! Muah!

  • Vikki

    I investigate abuse and neglect for a living. I’ve been doing it for 15 years and if I couldn’t laugh about some of the dark, crazy things I see, I wouldn’t be able to do the work. So I hear ya. I’d add a baseball metaphor but I don’t think talking about getting to second base is appropriate in this context and that’s the only one I know.

  • tracey

    Beautifully said, Momo.

  • Preeva Tramiel

    I loved meeting you too, Momo!
    I was so empowered by going to the Bombeck conference!

  • Jennifer

    One of my favorite quotes of late is: “If you don’t like where you are, then change it. You are not a tree.” All wonderfully said (and I laughed AND cried so yes, homerun for sure).

  • Vicki

    Go Momo, go Momo! Loved this post. Heartfelt and funny.

  • UP

    Erma was a wise woman, and you are as well to follow her advice.


  • SurprisedMom

    You are so right! I found that out when I realized going through all the nonsense I went through last year. It occurred to me that I hadn’t laughed in a long time and my soul was so heavy. I felt like I was just trudging through life. When I started laughing at what I couldn’t change and started seeing the humor in life again, my heart was lighter. I’m glad you can laugh at life’s curve balls. I know I feel better when I do. Thanks for this post.

  • molly

    I love this! Thank you for writing it. I needed to hear this today.

  • Yuliya

    So lovely to have met you ‘MamAfali’!

    What a succinct and inspirational takeaway ‘if you can laugh in the face of adversity your plant will flower through every season’

  • Melissa

    I needed to read this today. Thank you. Must pull out the weeds and look for sun.

  • Anne (@notasupermom)

    Love it! This weekend has been so refreshing to me.

    I wonder about my purpose and direction as a writer sometimes. The Erma makes me see the importance of humor, always.

    Nice to meet you, even briefly. Thanks for your kindness to this nervous person who was way out of her comfort zone.

  • Muffintopmommy

    Right on! Laughing and humor are what keep us all (relatively?) insane. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and was just chatting about this very topic at EBWW with someone hilarious who’d been contemplating giving up blogging. She’d recently received an unbelievable comment from a reader going thru a rough time that urged her to go on–blew her away (and me when I read it). I was telling her how last year my dad passed away, but was literally joking with the nurses and us until he practically lost consciousness. To me, there is courage and dignity in that. When you face life with humor why would you not face your own mortality the same way? The funny things we say and write are a gift and need to be shared, for all our sakes! Keep on keeping on—so glad I got to meet you at EBWW!

  • Muffintopmommy

    Um, yeah. Correction to my comment: I meant keeps us SANE not insane! Still recovering from EBWW and three hours at the bar at LaGuardia yesterday. Garcon, more coffee please!!!

  • Liz @ PeaceLoveGuac

    This is all so so true and beautifully said. From my experience, grief makes us literally and figuratively hold our breath tight. Laughter forces us to let it go and breathe again.

    I loved meeting and hanging out with you at Erma! Hugs!

  • Patty at A Day in My NYC

    I could not agree with you more! Laughter through tears is one of my favorite emotions. I don’t know how I would have made it through the last year without a little bit of laughter! 🙂

  • Wenderly

    I simply couldn’t agree more. xo

  • meleah rebeccah

    Oh hell yes. If I couldn’t laugh at the things that happen in my life, I’d probably be a hot mess. Laughter truly is the cure all.

  • The Bearded Iris

    Preach it, sister. Beautifully said! Gina Barreca’s “bloom where you’re planted” bit really resonated with me too. Great to meet you last weekend and looking forward to reading more. 🙂

  • Ann

    Had so much fun with you. Again. I love this post. xo

  • Amy

    It was so great to see you again, and laugh with you, and remember how privileged we are to be able to laugh at our lives and turn them into art.

    You are an inspiration.

  • dysfunctional mom

    I’ve always hated that ‘bloom where you’re planted’ line but could never exactly put my finger on the reason why. Now I understand.
    Sidenote: I cannot read the word “Kegels” without starting to do Kegels.

  • Zak

    CRAP! I kept seeing the hashtag on twitter this weekend and I had no idea it was for this! Totally jeal.

    Kegels do not work. At least that’s what I tell myself when I sneeze and pee my pants.

  • Tracy Beckerman

    So glad we had a chance to connect at Erma (however briefly!)
    Loved your post! I self-soothe with peanut butter, too! 🙂

  • Martha @ running in mommyland

    I just love this post! Glad to have found you!

  • DarleneMAM

    Oh..I know what you mean about laughter…I was halfway home from EBWW when I got the call from my hysterical (as in crying) teen daughter that her beloved cat was gravely ill. Long story short, devoted kitty had to be euthanized Sunday night. We have been crying for days around our home. I wrote a humorous bit about gas station adventures I’ve had on trips as a sort of way out, if you know what I mean. Humor saves lives, or at least mine, on many occasions. Just not our poor cat’s.
    PS It was delightful to speak with you at the Centerville Library.

  • Kim Bee

    I am new to your site and just love your attitude about life. We’ve been thrown some curveballs in life and I just can’t go to that place of doom and gloom. You gotta find the funny or it’s just too hard to cope. Looking forward to reading more and learning more about your life.

  • Missy

    I found your blog via a mention from a friend who attended the EBWW last week. She was right. Your blog hits me in all the right places. Thank you! As a mama of a soon-to-be nine year old with PDD, and the mama of a soon to be 12 year old lab with severe arthritis, your last two posts were especially meaningful. Keep writing – you definitely have one new fan right here!

  • Suniverse

    I love that quote – I’m tired of thinking I am stuck where I’m put. It’s not the case at all.

    And the best humor comes from someplace dark. For sure.

  • Laura in Little Rock

    Thank you, Momo. I’m now doing kegels. Involuntarily I feel. My sister and I lived through some crazy times from age 20 to age 30. We discovered we’d far rather laugh than cry. Thanks for the reminder. I need a reminder to laugh and enjoy the ride. Graduate school is making me forget my ever-lovin-name!

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