A Grown and Flown friend writes: A colleague forwarded a YouTube video today that shows a baby gurgling with laughter as his father tears a sheet of paper in front of him. Every tear – the sound of it, the sight – sets off peals of happy laughter, unadulterated joy. My response? I cried. Not the sort of “laugh-until-you-cry” moment. Tears of loss and sadness as I remembered my own laughing baby.
I have so few memories of my children laughing like that, or of laughing with them in that way. I went back to work when each of my boys was 12 weeks old. For the first years, I commuted to the city. I had to catch a certain train every day to get home in time for the sitter to catch her bus, and if she missed her bus, it meant strapping two kids into car seats and driving her home, and then coming back to start our evening together. To bathtime and stories. I don’t regret that I have always worked outside the home. I had no choice about this, but I also have no remorse. It kept me energized and engaged in worlds beyond my household and I think this has also been good for my kids. The three of us have a great partnership, established over long years of working, bending and supporting each other. We have our rhythm, and we have great quality time together – sometimes, admittedly, in the form of unexpected conversations when we’re riding in the car. They are big and independent now, and they are responsible, warm, supportive and honest.
This is not a “poor me, my job took me away from my kids” look back. It’s just this: whether because I was always juggling kids, diapers, groceries, laundry, and job, or because I was – and am – simply wired to keep doing the thing in front of me, whatever it is, there was not much room for just laughing. We can’t create those moments – they just happen. But maybe we need to create the space in which they can happen.