I was driving in the car with my kids and, in an effort to stave off some whining, I played a CD of nursery rhymes I found in the glove compartment. I’ve heard these songs a thousand times, most a thousand times too many. But sometimes a peaceful drive home is worth twelve back-to-back renditions of Itsy Bitsy Spider. It’s a close call, but it’s worth it.
When we rounded the corner onto our street the lullaby “Hush Little Baby” started to play. I smiled and sang along with my sons.
Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,
Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird
And if that mockingbird won’t sing,
Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring
And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass
And if that looking glass gets broke,
Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat
And if that billy goat won’t pull,
Mama’s gonna buy you a cart and bull
And if that cart and bull turn over,
Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover
And if that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and cart
And if that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.
I love this song. Whenever I hear it, I feel a surge of nostalgia. It reminds me of my babies when they were babies, when everything was brand new and scary and really hard and miraculous.
This song was my middle of the night anthem. It was my go-to. These lyrics were the only ones I could ever think to sing in those weary, ready-to-drop moments.
I remember trying to lull my boys to sleep while I paced in circles around our living room. I remember sitting and cradling them in our big blue rocker. I remember the swaddle blankets. I remember warming bottles in the dark kitchen. I remember the whimpers and the whines and the tiny yawns. I remember staring out at the nighttime street filled with sleeping houses. I remember all the phases of the moon. I remember the ticks of the clock. I remember thinking I was the only person in the entire world who was awake at that time.
But I also remember big blue eyes staring up at me. I remember that new baby smell and the feel of my boys’ cheeks against my chest. I remember the softness of their hair. I remember their little kicks. I remember the way their entire hands would curl around and grip my little finger. I remember how their bodies could fit in the crook of my arm. I remember the peace and the stillness and the quiet. I remember falling in love again and again.
Hearing this song now, years later, takes me back to those nights. It reminds me of drowsiness and exhaustion and desperation. But it also reminds me of tenderness and compassion and awe in those moments within the heavy moments.
I still can feel the fatigue in my bones. But I also still can feel the softness in my heart. I can feel the weariness, but also the wonder. I can feel the exasperation, but also the patience.
All of those feelings, all of those feelings, are equally important. They all matter. Of course, I never want to forget the tender moments. But I also don’t want to forget the not-so-tender moments. Because they are all part of our story. The good, the bad, and the magical.
I still have those moments today. Things have moved forward and changed and my kids have grown, but I still have those moments. I still find frustration. I still feel fatigue and desperation. I still throw my hands in the air. I still bury my head in my lap. I still wish I could close my eyes and go to sleep. The bottles and swaddle blankets and midnight pacing circles may be gone, but they’ve been replaced with new struggles. And the feelings are still the same.
But, thankfully, I still find the awe. I still feel compassion and unconditional love. There are heart bursts. There are twinklings of tenderness. There are moments of sweet affection. The baby smells and tiny yawns and little finger grips may be gone, but they’ve been replaced with new joys. And the feelings are still the same.
Even now, there are Hush Little Baby moments. Because it’s still brand new and scary and really hard and miraculous. Every single day.