Just like Claire, we sing a lot throughout the day. I make up little songs for finishing meals, sing the ABCs when brushing Vicki’s teeth, and nothing beats a good rendition of “The Wheels on the Bus” to calm down a cranky toddler in the car.
But my favorite time to sing is bedtime.
When I was a little girl, my mom used to sing us lullabies every night. The same songs, in the same order, all snuggled together on one of our beds. It was our signal that it was time to sleep. It was our reminder that we were safe and loved. It was our ritual and we loved it.
When I had Vicki, I knew I’d want to sing her lullabies, but it took me over a year to actually do it consistently. It seemed like such a waste of time to sing when she would fall asleep while I was nursing her. What was the point of singing to a sleeping baby? That would run the risk of waking her up! So I tried singing to her while we were nursing, and she would get all distracted and look at me instead of eating like she was supposed to. I just couldn’t figure out a way to make it work.
Once we weaned, lullabies came back with a vengeance. I needed something to put into the bedtime routine between books and putting her in the crib, and singing while rocking her was perfect. Most of the time Vicki curls her body into mine and lays her head on my shoulder as I serenade her with the songs my mom used to sing to me: Down in the Valley, It’s Time to Sleep Now, and Tula Rula Rula. (Of course, now that I Googled those, I think my mom got a little creative with the lyrics.) I also added in You Are My Sunshine – it just makes me smile to it sing to her, and honestly? She does make me happy when skies are gray.
Some nights I rush through the songs, eager to get back downstairs and watch a movie with my husband. Other nights, I linger in the dark, rocking her in my arms, fully aware that this time is fleeting and soon enough she won’t want me to sing to her every night. I just hope that she remembers our lullabies and, maybe, someday, she sings them to her little girl at bedtime.
What lullabies do you sing to your kids? Were any of them passed down through your family?
As a kid, I loved being rocked to sleep as my mom sang lullabies. Now as a mom, I cherish our bedtime routine of singing lullabies and rocking my kids to sleep. My husband and I are both singers, so we’ve been singing to the kids since they were in the womb. We each have our own repertoire, which includes classic lullabies, hymns, songs from recording artists, and songs from movies and musicals. We don’t sing every song every night, but here’s a list.
St. Judy’s Comet (my mom used to sing this to me)
Jesus Loves Me
I am Jesus’ Little Lamb
Abide with Me
Mude Bin Ich/Now the Light has Gone Away
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral
You Can Always Come Home (from Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies)
My Sweet Baby Boy (from Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies)
Stay Awake (from Mary Poppins)
Rock-a-Bye Baby/Bye-Bye Baby Bunting (my mom used to sing this to me)
“A,” You’re Adorable
Hush Little Baby
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Children of the Heavenly Father
All the Pretty Horses
Theme from “Firefly”
Beautiful Girl (from Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies)
Seal Lullaby (Eric Whitacre)
The Water is Wide
When You Wish Upon a Star
Beautiful City (Godspell)
Like a Child Rests (Christopher Walker setting of Psalm 141)
My Mom would go first into my older brother’s room and then come into my room to sing us each one lullaby of our choosing. We could hear her through the walls though, so really, we both got two. A favorite that I would ask for– even if I had already heard my brother ask for it– was “If” by Bread. Now that it’s my turn with my daughter, I ask her what she wants to hear, and then throw in some songs that I want to sing, too (sadly, she does not like “If”). We average 3-5 songs a night. I’m due with my second daughter next month, and I’m looking forward to including her in the ritual.
I love that tradition! Good luck with your #2. 🙂