Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I finally heard the laughter

Amy and children
It was about eight months ago, but the memory of when I finally heard the laughter is as vivid as if it occurred yesterday. But before I share more about this memory, I have to share how this journey began.

In May 2010, my husband and I made one of the most important decisions of our lifetime. After months and months of toying with the idea of me leaving the workforce, we finally made the very emotional and heart-wrenching call for me to end my 13-plus career as a corporate communications/public relations professional. We felt this was the best time to provide our family with what we so desperately needed - more time at home and relief from the everyday hustle and bustle of the work-and-family balancing act that every family is all too familiar with.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job. I had the best co-workers and friends that anyone could ask for. But at the end of the day, when I looked into my eight-year-old daughter’s weary, red eyes at 6:30 p.m. and then went on to tell her to hurry and have her snack do homework, and get back to the dinner table by 7:30 (and on occasion at 8), I knew that something had to give.

So on June 4, 2010, I left my role Texas Health Resources as senior communications specialist to embark upon not necessarily a new role, but a role that was somewhat unfamiliar to me. I was no longer gainfully employed for the first time since I was 15-years-old, and I was at home more with my children. (I refuse to say that I became a stay-at-home mom because that term is not an accurate description of mothers who choose to not enter the workforce or who step out of the workforce to devote more of their time to their families. More about that topic in another blog.)

Now, back to my story. There were many emotions that seemed to converge all at once after I left the workforce – excitement, fear, anxiety and uncertainty. I was excited that I had been blessed to have this wonderful opportunity to spend with my two youngest children, Sierra and my five-year-old son Nathan. But as many mothers who have made this transition could attest to, although I was very excited the feelings of fear, anxiety and uncertainty were also looming. What if I my husband unexpectedly lost his job? What if I had made the wrong decision about leaving the job force only to find out that I really wanted to go back to work? And even, what if my children preferred not to spend more time with me?

Well, let’s go back to the beginning of this story of when I finally heard the laughter. A few weeks after my last day of working full-time outside of my home, I was in the kitchen preparing a snack from my children. Both were upstairs playing and watching television. They ran down the stairs laughing and talking as they grabbed their snacks, sat at the table, ate and then ran off for more fun upstairs.

And then at that moment, my daughter belted out a laugh that I had not heard before. It may sound weird, but something was different about her laugh. She was so carefree, and the sound of her laughter came from her bottom of her belly it seemed. It was an “unrushed” laughter. We didn’t have to rush off to a sports-related activity, I didn’t have to rush to take them to daycare or camp, and they didn’t have to rush to do homework or take a bath. It was the type of carefree laughter that I remembered from summers in Mississippi with my brother and sister when we would laugh so hard that our cheeks hurt. It was the type of laughter that instantly made me smile and wiped away the feelings of anxiety, fear and uncertainty that I had. I was left only with the feeling of excitement and joy that I had this wonderful opportunity to spend more time with my children teaching them our family values and just enjoying some “Mississippi-like” foot-loose, carefree days with them.

And so it was the summer of 2010, when I finally heard the laughter of my beautiful children. It’s a moment that I will never forget.

Amy Shields is the mother of an adult son, Corey, 20, Sierra, 8, and Nathan 5. She continues to do some work with Texas Health Resources, but she spends most of her time with her beautiful children. Amy is also busy pursing her master’s degree in Communication at the University of Texas – Arlington.  Amy and her husband, Randy, live in Kennedale. Both are natives of Mississippi.


  1. Just a lovely account of the joys of a mom spending more time with her children - it is the best thing to be able to do that. It's not always easy, but I believe the joys outweigh the occasional hard times.

  2. That's a wonderful story, Amy. Thanks for sharing it, and here's to your family enjoying many future years of laughter and fulfillment!

    Charlie Dierker