The Longest Lullaby
I put Liam to bed the vast majority of nights with a pretty standard routine–read a few stories, cuddle and sing him his night-night song. I never really intended to have a particular song I sung to him each night but from the time he was born, somehow fell into singing “Lullabye” every night just before I put him in his crib. It always seemed to calm him down so I stuck with it.
Back when he was an infant we went through some periods where going to sleep, or more precisely staying asleep, was a real issue (as documented here and here), so for a while he heard this song a lot. As Liam has entered toddlerhood, the drama over bedtime has (knock on wood) subsided. Don’t get me wrong, he’s far from a perfect sleeper, but things are much easier than they used to be, particularly the going to bed part. It seems the excitement and activity of being a toddler (not surprisingly) takes a lot out of the little guy and by bedtime, he’s usually telling us he’s ready. I’m serious–guests to our house find it hilarious–he’ll be in the middle of playing and suddenly get up, wave “bye bye” and walk to the stairs waiting for us to open the gate and let him up to bed. This change in behavior threw off our nightly routine because he is now just ready for bed–he doesn’t really need that night night song that I’ve sung so many times.
So I stopped. It seemed silly to sing a lullaby to a child who didn’t truly need it to get to sleep. Sure, he certainly wouldn’t object to being rocked and sung to but he also didn’t object to a quick kiss as I lowered him into his crib. There are so many parts of parenting him at this stage that require all my energy that at the time, I was okay with letting one of them go. In a casual conversation with my mother, I mentioned that I stopped singing to him at night and her response surprised me. She said, “Don’t let go of that special time with him so quickly. I know right now it doesn’t seem like a big deal but before you know it, it won’t be up to you. He’ll be grown and too big for that sort of thing and you’ll wish you never passed up a moment like that with him.”
It’s times like these that I’m so thankful for the words of my parents and my in-laws and wonderful other family and friends who have made it through the haze of the first few years of parenthood and lived to tell the tale. When I get mired in the stress and busyness of daily life, they remind me how truly special these days, months and years are and that, although it sometimes feels like it, they won’t last long.
I’ve started singing our night-night song again. He may not need it right now and that’s fine. What I was reminded was that I do. I need that time to forget the rest of the day and just be with him and hold him and rock him because I won’t be able to forever. It’s never seemed more special or important, and for that, this baby can thank her mom.