My Mom’s Laughter

When I was ten years old, my parents splurged and took me on a birthday trip. Every other vacation taken was to a campground, either at the lake or on the ocean. We ate crab and fish taken straight from the water over an open fire, and I tried to sleep to the sound of wild animals. But this birthday trip was different.

My parents got us a hotel right on the beach. I felt so fancy. We didn’t catch our meal from sea, but ate at a Mexican restaurant that overlooked the water. The waiters sang “Happy Birthday” and brought me a free dessert and it was magical.

 The next day, we searched the beaches for anemones and shells in the sand. We found a colony of beach squirrels and my mom lured them out of their rock habitat by putting grapes on my head. I kid you not, those squirrels ran up my body, grabbed the grape out of my hair, and took it back to their lair. The following morning, we ate breakfast in the hotel room and I opened presents. Then my mom opened the balcony doors and lured the seagulls into our room to eat our bacon and eggs.

 Today, while going through a box of mom’s things, I found the picture proof of this event. I found many other photo memories, things I had forgotten. Delightful pictures of our little farm that gave me the most wonderful childhood. But as I remember my mom now, I remember more of the good, almost none of the bad. I remember her sense of humor more than her sad days. I remember staying up all night to help the mama goats have their first babies, and working together in the garden. I remember the time she threw horse poop at me because she said I was being too serious. And I remember when she lined up my husband and I and our baby behind the stalks of corn and took a picture so we could be the “children of the corn” and she laughed and laughed.  She used to repeat the phrase, “Who burnt the toast?” to my newborn daughter because she really wanted that to be the baby’s first sentence.

 She was many things. She was the director of children’s ministry and family activities at our church, she was a licensed pastor, she was a farmer. She was organized and so poised on stage. She had a way of rallying people together for a cause. She could direct a play like nobody’s business, and facilitate a Christmas event that literally shut down traffic. She was very focused creative and smart. She was  also, almost always, under immense amounts of stress.

Sometimes, in the midst of it though, she was very, very silly.

 As a mom, it’s a struggle to not get bogged down by the need to clean, by the sleepless nights, by the sickness. Sometimes life is hard. But as a child, I needed my mom’s silliness. It was a wonderful balm, the sound of her laugh was such a magical sound. I loved hearing my mom laugh, and I loved her smile. It was everything to me; the tone of my entire day, set upon my mom’s mood. And if she was happy, oh joy, I felt weightless.

 So today, I give you mamas permission to be silly. To laugh. To smile. I wasn’t aware enough as a child to recognize the impact those moments of hers had on me, but they did. Today, while going through pictures, I remembered those moments. Those moments that shown like a ray of sunshine through the most stressful of days. My mom’s laugh was like a rescue even when our world was crashing down.

 Our last Christmas together, we stayed up late and played Apples to Apples and she laughed and I can still remember that sound. When a mom laughs, her children know that everything is going to be okay.

 I believe today our charge as mothers is to shake off the bonds of stress and fear, to not let the unknown entangle us. Let us laugh. Let us laugh without fear of the future because we KNOW WHO HOLDS THE FUTURE. Because we know we can trust Him. Because we are tapped into the fountain that flows from Emmanuel.

There is a time to mourn. There is a time to cry.

But don’t let the times of joy and dancing pass you by.
Stop now, reach out and grasp hold of them, cling to them with white-knuckled fists until they become your own. Do not hand over your joy to fear and stress. Do not let your silliness wither away in the clutches of fear.

Let’s laugh with our babies. Laugh with our husbands. Let us lift up our heads and laugh without fear of the future. And breathe deep as the burden eases.

Me, mom, and some puppies.

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