Message in a Giggle
by Jamie Rodriguez
It was the night of my daughter’s third birthday. I lay awake as usual, hugely pregnant and bemoaning the fact that in our spacious King-size bed we now had a pint-size guest who preferred to share my pillow with me.
Then I heard the voice from the little body velcroed to my side saying: “It’s a bull! I think it’s a bull, Mama!” By this point, Sleep had left the room completely, so I just watched my daughter, eager to see what would happen next. Her face was washed in the pale glow of the nightlight. Long eyelashes rested on her cheeks like silk butterfly wings. She was sleeping soundly.
Then she giggled! Something happened that night in the cadence of a giggle that I would never forget.
My mind drifted back to our afternoon together. The day had been like any other. Laundry lingered in the basket. Toys were strewn about the living room. I was a tired, pregnant mommy waiting to give birth again. Some days smiling took too much energy. I wondered how I was going to manage two children soon.
Then sometime between breakfast and “Elmo’s World” my daughter and I played with each other, one of us pointing to something and calling it something else. She would explode into fits of laughter every time one of us called a cup a bowl or a moose a cat. By nightfall I had forgotten about our afternoon silliness; perhaps she had too. Something inside her, however, held onto it and played it back for me.
The memory of that night still jostles around in my mind; moments of the ordinary covered in profound meaning. In the midst of diapers, spills and tears, I return to that moment often to remember why I wanted children. I wonder at every interaction I have with my daughter as it imprints itself in her brain. Every smile, every lift of my eyebrows, every word of encouragement, every giggle–it’s all there.
It will be there when the class bully calls her a name, or when her best friend gets chosen and she doesn’t. When life hits her square in the face she will cry, but in the grand scheme of things it will be a drop in an ocean of love that is building, moment after moment.
Truly, what matters most isn’t what I do as how I do it. At the end of the day, it won’t matter if I taught her the ABCs or provided fine children’s literature. Those will fill an educational pool of knowledge, but it will not shape her character. She taught me that with a giggle.
Love is there for me, too. It’s there when I am an exhausted pregnant mommy; it’s there when I am agonizing over my child’s sorrow. It’s there in the middle of the night when all I have to do is open my heart and take in the music of a giggle.