When my kids were babies I used to rock them to sleep while singing lullabies. It didn't matter if they fell asleep after the first or second song because most nights I would just continue singing until the CD finished. It was a time when I could sit for an hour doing nothing but rocking and listening to the sweet sound of my baby's breath. I remember the stillness of the nursery and how nothing in the outside world mattered.
My boys still listen to their lullaby CD's. Not every night, but the lullabies are in the CD rotation right next to the Curious George soundtrack, Skippyjon Jones stories, Captain Banjo ukulele music and other favorites. Some nights when Nicholas or Christopher is having a hard time falling sleep I will play a lullaby CD, lay with him in bed and sing some songs as I listen to the sweet sound of my now little boy's breath. Nicholas usually asks if we can move to the glider chair and rock back and forth while we listen to the Suo Gan (old Welsh) or Waltzing Matilda (Australian) songs from Susie Tallman's Lullabies for Sleepy Eyes CD. Unfortunately, the rocking chair doesn't work too well anymore since Nicholas is getting so tall and lanky. We barely fit together. How I wish I could rock him to sleep and get back just a moment of those nights when he fit in my arms.
We make do without rocking and after a few songs I sense that sleep is near because I can feel the tenseness disappear and the heavy breathing set in. Both of us are transfixed on the music and like a form of meditation we become one with our breath. For all the nights of reading logs and homework and discussions about the day's events, it's nice to go back to that place of stillness. Nothing but music and soft breath.
I put our lullaby play lists on my iPod and we listen to the songs occasionally when we are on a long car trip or we've been overwhelmed by the day's events and need some downtime. If the boys are fighting in the backseat or yelling over one another for my attention, a simple round of Golden Slumbers usually calms us and returns us to our sane place. Sometimes I even listen to the songs when I'm all alone.
My days of rocking babies to sleep are gone. But lullabies aren't just for babies. We elicit special memories every time we hear our favorite song so we continue to play those lullabies. Because our lives are busier and more complicated now, it's even more important that we slow down wrap our arms around each other and synchronize our breath to the songs that bonded us so long ago.
What is your favorite lullaby?