I’m going to reluctantly take a minute and get all up in my feels. My Mama asks me almost daily to “smile”. She says a ridiculous amount of “Mom” things, like “your smile is beautiful”, “you should smile in pictures more”. There’s not much about my life that I take seriously. Even so, I still find it hard to smile in photos.
I have all of the insecurities that most people have. I can pick apart a photo of myself in seconds. The wrinkles I have at only 34 years old, my cheeks are so puffy that when I smile my eyes close, the double chin that always creeps in no matter what “catphish” angle I try to hold the camera at, are all things I find myself saying/thinking when I see a picture I am in. It isn’t easy for me to love a picture of myself. However, it is super easy for me to laugh through just about anything that happens in my life, even in situations where a little restraint would be more socially acceptable.
An example of all that can be found in one of me and my sister’s favorite memories from our child hood. If my Mama hadn’t realized before this particular experience that I’d be the kid that would drive her straight to a bottle of Boones Farm, she definitely realized it that day. My sister and I were fighting as we did a lot of our childhood. My Mama had enough and sent us both to our room. She handed us a Bible and told us to memorize the 23rd Psalm. She wanted us to recite it to her when she came back. If ya’ll aren’t familiar with it, it goes like this.
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’ sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
When Mama came back in she asked us if we had memorized it. We got through the first part okay, but when we got to “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”, my mouth took over my mind and I started rapping the lyrics to Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise”. I’ll never forget the look on my Mama’s face. My sister and I still laugh about it. I’m telling y’all that story because I want there to be a general understanding of how I have always perceived life. Just about everything is funny to me in some way.
When my daughter came into my life, I felt like sleep deprivation took over my ability to do any sane laughing. I felt like I was up all hours of the night trying to get her to stop crying. My humor seemed to go right out the window and the sounds of my baby’s discontent filled my mind. Almost instantly a few things clicked. I realized that I use my humor as a shield to protect me from feeling anything hurtful. I use my humor as a shield to hide my insecurities.
My daughter changed that. In an instant, I was flooded with emotion. Here I am, with this baby whose entire being is in my hands. I immediately felt every single insecurity you can imagine. Will I be enough for her? Will she be happy that God chose me to be her Mama? Will she love me even when I’m at my worst? Am I capable of keeping this tiny creature alive? Most recently, when she’s throwing a fit in public and I seemingly have no control, will the world judge me? If you have kiddos I know you can relate. It’s taken me the better part of 15 months to realize that I shouldn’t care about any of that.
One of my favorite things about the relationship I have with my close friend (she’s more like family), is that we can spend hours trading stories about the insane things that went on in our worlds that day and laugh hysterically through most of it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with laughing through life. Laughing at the dirty looks you get in the grocery store while your pissed off toddler is flopping around on the floor like a dead fish. Laughing at all of the events of the day that led up to you being grateful that ya’ll survived. Laughing at the mistakes you make. Humor can be more than a defense mechanism. It can be a powerful tool.
One day the world will slap my Daughter in the face and remind her of her insecurities. When that happens, I want her to be able to give them the middle finger and laugh straight through it. All I’ll ever want to see are pictures of my daughter smiling, just like the smile my Mama wants to see from me.
*THE FIRST TIME MY DAUGHTER EVER SMILED, IS MY VERY FIRST MEMORY OF BEING OVERWHELMINGLY EXCITED AS A NEW MOM*