Bedtime makes me want to hurl myself in front of a moving vehicle, stab my eyes out with hot pokers, and hogtie my children to their mattresses. Their reasons for getting out of bed, not going to sleep, and needing me to be their pseudo-pacifier are absolutely endless:
My tongue is sad.
I hear a panther in my room. He’s playing checkers in the closet. Can you make sure he doesn’t touch my Elsa doll?
I need to tell you a secret. I have to poop. Huge.
Have you seen my booby trap?
Where is my diaper doo? No, the one with the little green flowers and kinda smells like my feet.
I slept for a million minutes already. It’s morning time now.
There is only one part of bedtime I relish and truly love: Singing their baby song.
Their baby song is just that. A song I made up for each of them when they were babies.
Weeks before I returned to work, I had a complete meltdown. You know, the ugly cry kind, mixed with hyperventilating and swollen eyes. The thought of handing off my baby girl to another person was gut-wrenching.
As I held my daughter in my arms and rocked, a nonsensical song emerged. A mish-mash of nursery rhymes, Johnny Cash, and my daughter’s name, complete with I love you’s and nicknames. Short, sweet and with a familiar melody, she would coo, smile and focus intently on my face as I sang; freezing time as we rocked.
“…… I love you so much, you’ll never know. You are my sweet baby girl, true blue…….”
It became our ritual before every instance of sleep. Naps or bedtime, the song was sung. I had to be the one to sing it, no one else would suffice. Her brother followed suit and enjoyed his song, to the melody of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
Obviously, it wasn’t just the song they needed.
They needed and wanted me. Not all the time, but most certainly at bedtime. They wanted me to be the first and last person they saw every day. I had to be the one to rock, to tuck in, to put them back to bed in the middle of the night. Me.
I completely underestimated the powerful bond between mother and child. Scratch that–I had no earthly idea. As a new mom, you prepare, worry and question anything and everything that has to do with baby. Friends, family and co-workers dispense advice like candy. You read countless books, blogs and articles like an instruction manual for a washing machine and then BOOM! Motherhood still hits you like a ton of bricks.
That innate, visceral, mind-body connection between my children and me was (and is) something I struggle to comprehend. It’s more than just love. Or pride. Or joy. It’s like the little buggers lassoed my heart and enjoyed dragging it through rugged terrain morning, noon, and night. What’s more, I don’t want to be set free.
However, when I hear my son escaping his room for the third time in twenty minutes, this time wearing his sister’s plastic dress-up heels, click-clackin’ down the hallway, the only thing I want is to be set free. I’m so sick of bedtime. Please God, go to bed. And I am not singing your damn baby song again.
But I do. I always do. They’ve got me. They know it, too.
A silly little song is a steadfast reminder of our bond and the love we share. Our connection. My children don’t need to be swaddled, held, or rocked to sleep anymore. They don’t need a bottle or a pacifier. They don’t even need a drink of water on most nights. But they still need and want two things: Their baby song. And me.
Rita Davis is an educator and writer living in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin. You can find more of her writing at her Girl Scout Flunky.