I was in the middle of doing work emails at my kitchen table when my six-year-old daughter approached me.
“Mommy, would you like to come play with me over at my doll house?”
She had her hands held behind her back and tilted her head to the side as if she had been practicing the presentation of her lines in the other room… just HOPING my answer would be the one she was seeking.
Typically, I would tell her to “hold on a second” while I finished what I was doing, but there was something extra endearing in the way she “invited me” into her world that got me to shift out of autopilot, leave my email half written … and grab her hand.
We skipped our way into the other room where she had already laid out her dolls and set up the props in the 4-foot-tall doll house in anticipation of my arrival. She informed me that the house was actually a hospital and we were going to pretend a mommy was coming to have her baby.
At six, she still hasn’t asked me how babies are born… and I was waiting for it.
Instead, she just showed me how she believed the baby magically came out of the mommy’s belly and landed into the doctor’s arms.
I rolled with that… I could save that conversation for another day.
Today was about something else.
Because the next 20 minutes were filled with a lot of connection, and A LOT of laughter.
We turned on music and had the nurse, mom and baby have a dance party in celebration of the baby’s birthday.
I made my nurse fall backwards at the smell of the baby’s diaper, while my daughter fell backwards laughing at my antics.
When it came time to get the baby a new outfit, I grabbed one of my husband’s t-shirts from the nearby laundry basket and asked if she thought it would fit.
Her laugh settled into her belly … delivering one of my favorite sounds into the air.
The sparkle in her eyes showed me everything.
This is exactly what she had laid out in her mind when she set up our play date. To have my full attention. To have FUN.
In that moment, I felt this wave of awesomeness settle all around us. I felt joy. I felt kid-like. I felt present. I felt connected to her… and disconnected from the heaviness of keeping up with life.
Mostly, I felt what LAUGHTER felt like — the way the sound can boomerang right back out of the air and into my soul to fill it with a contentment like nothing else can.
And while it felt good, it also felt foreign.
It had been a long time since I had *laughed* from a TRULY joyful place.
Not just a chuckle at something the kids said, or a quick smile when my husband tells his favorite one-liner… THIS was genuine laughter.
My mind turns so quickly at all times of the day — being spun on a reel of trying to remember schedules, figure out what to cook for dinner while folding laundry and hoping that I haven’t missed a deadline…that I haven’t given myself an opportunity to truly sit in a moment, and find the joy in it.
My daughter must have noticed the novelty too, because she said, “Mommy this is really fun, can we do this more often?”
I smiled and pulled her in, “We can, honey,” I committed. “And we WILL.”
I will, I thought.
I will choose fun over work… and joy over worry.
I will choose silly over uptight … and wants over shoulds.
I will choose laughter.
Over stress, over exhaustion, over sadness.
Because this kind of joy can’t exist inside of a spirit that is constantly letting the stresses of life suffocate it.
Laughter needs to be able to breathe. And so do I.