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I often think of laughter as a distant memory or an old friend.  I look back on it fondly, missing its authentic sound and voice.  I never forgetbut as time goes on, the small details lose clarity.

What exactly did her voice sound like?

That door was what shade of blue?

And time continues. Moments and faces fill the spaces once occupied by those tiny details now fussy in my memory.

I often think about laughter in this way.


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I often think of laughter as a muscle once used, once strong.

The memory of the motion — the running, the lifting, the punches — is still there, but the memory isn’t enough to maintain the strength.

It must be flexed and used. It must be broken and strained, so that it can grow stronger.

I often think about laughter in this way. 



With motherhood came the responsibility of more lives than just my own.  Lives I put before mine — even as I sleep, with one eye open.  Always watching, always looking, always thinking….

always worrying.

I find it so easy to worry, yet so difficult to laugh. The worry plays the trump card in every hand.  The laughter is moved to the “do tomorrow” list.

I’ve strengthened the muscle of worry.  I’ve revisited its memories and face.  I’ve let my laughter muscles atrophy.

The worry voice sings loudly:

Did I play with them enough today?

Did I show my love?

Did the bill get paid?

Why didn’t he nap?

What will others think? 

What if… what when… how will…

From the lightweights to the heavy-hitters, I allow them to consume me.  Punching down the genuine laughter, leaving reasons to worry behind.



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If you can get me to laugh — really laugh — you’ll hear chuckles turned to silent, shoulder-shaking laughter.  As I silently laugh with tears streaming down my face, small squeaks make their way out as I inhale.  An friend of mine used to call me “window washer”: my laughter mimicking the tiny squeaks you hear as the glass is polished until it is shiny and clean.

Shiny and clean.

Motherhood isn’t shiny and clean —  you can do it all “right” and still be left with heartache.

Is it possible to laugh while the heart hurts?  It is possible to genuinely laugh when life just feels hard and heavy?

I want to be the window washer again.


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Harlow has a laugh that is simply beautiful.  She squishes up her nose.  She squints her eyes shut.  She giggles loudly.  She laughs often.

The other day I said to her, “Harlow, I love your giggles.”

She replied so matter of factly: “I just love to laugh, mommy.”

And in that moment I realized that laughter is like so many things forgotten: it doesn’t have to be.

It is a muscle that doesn’t want to be lost.  It is a sound that wants to fill the air.  It is a feeling that wants to be experienced, contagious to oneself and others.

In that moment, I realized my motherhood needs my laughter.  

Laughter doesn’t mean that everything is perfect.  Laughter doesn’t mean that I have this motherhood gig — or life gig — figured out.

Laughter means finding joy in the tiniest of moments: to even for a moment forget all the reasons to worry. I want to show my kids that life is more than responsibilities–being their mommy is more than the weight of it all.  It is having the honor to laugh at the crayon mural on the freshly painted wall, to laugh at the joke you’ve heard one thousand times, to laugh with joy when it doesn’t mean you are happy.

Even in the middle of heartache. 

Laughter may not make the world shiny and clean, but I’m beginning to believe that the sound of true laughter has the ability to polish a small piece of the heart.  One moment at at time.

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