Confession time. I sat down and asked myself the question, when was the last time that I really belly laughed and sadly, I couldn’t remember. Obviously, I have giggles throughout the day and I’m pretty sure I smile enough (as I’m starting to get wrinkles), but do I really, really laugh? No.
Did you know that on average a child laughs 150 times a day. Yes, 150. And the average adult laughs three. Three. It’s just not enough. Somehow there comes a time in our life when we decide that we need to “grow up” and take our responsibilities seriously…it may be our career, or we become a parent, or we have to care for an elderly parent. Whatever it is, it seems like a switch goes off.
I can tell you, I felt two significant shifts in my life. The first came after my college graduation. I graduated when the economy was depressed and for anyone who had “soft skills,” such as an English degree that meant a long road ahead of finding your first “big girl” job. I really started feeling the pressure as my friends slowly began landing their first full-time positions. I became obsessed with landing that first job and not only any first job, but a job that I was proud of. I wanted to be a writer. I would send my resume to anyone who was accepting. It started to consume me….and I think that was the first time that I felt some of the laughter subside and some of the anxiety set in.
The second time I felt the shift was when I became a mother. That name carries so much weight. Weight that I never knew existed. As many of you know, we waited a long time for our miracle baby and I think I let that word start carrying more weight than it should have. I wanted to be the perfect mom. I wanted to be there for my son whenever he needed me, but I still wanted to be the best employee I could be. I didn’t want to lose the career that I had worked so hard for. I could do it all, right? I wanted to be the perfect mom, the perfect employee, and the perfect wife. All while trying to be a friend, daughter, and all the other titles that I have.
But, slowly, I began losing myself. I put so much pressure on myself to be responsible. I needed to not only be there for my family, but I also wanted to provide for my family. And you know what? I broke. The depression and anxiety set in so deep that all of the laughter was gone. I didn’t even know what it was like to feel “free” and to let go.
During the dark times I often found myself daydreaming of my college days. I loved my college experience. My friends became like family and I felt like I could be who I really was. Sure, some people thought I was a bit crazy (ditzy, however you want to put it) and that I was a bit all over the place. But, you know what? I was happy, and I laughed…a lot. We would have dance parties in our rooms, game nights, movie nights, or we would just sit around talk for hours and laugh…sometimes until we cried.
It was when I started trying to be someone that I wasn’t…that they laughter ceased and my joy went away. For some reason I thought you couldn’t be taken seriously, unless you were serious. You know what? That’s just not the truth. I’m not going to believe those lies anymore. I’m going to be the person who God has made me to be…and that person is loud, likes to laugh, loves live music, loves to dance, and loves to sing at the top of her lungs in the car. Does this fit the “full-time working mom” persona? Nope. And for the first time in a long time, I don’t care.
The happier that I am, the happier my kids will be, the happier my husband will be (he fell in love with me during college, he knew what he was getting), and the happier our home will be. That’s what it’s all about.
Friends, I challenge all of you today to try and think about the last time you had a really good laugh. If you have a friend that makes you laugh, call them. Hang out with them. If you have a favorite movie, watch it…tonight! Don’t let the time go by without joy a part of it. I know that I have spent the last decade so afraid of what people thought of me and trying to prove them wrong, but I’m not going to do it anymore and I hope you won’t either.
Three things I’m grateful for:
- Friends who make me laugh
- The giggle from a child
- Good music I can scream at the top of my lungs (even though I’m tone deaf)
Blessings to you and your family,