As A Mom- Singing

At least once a day, I’ll note how I’ve changed since becoming a mother. It could be anything as simple as letting a friend know that any night out must begin before 7pm, regardless of the activity. Or it can be as big as watching my son and husband roughhouse and feeling more love than I ever knew. Some are big, most are small. But I have found that one interesting result of having Jackson is how I sing.

I’ve never been much of a singer. I grew up surrounded by people with beautiful voices- a cousin who practiced opera, my first boyfriend who was in choir his entire life (to this day), many, many friends, and so forth. And I tried, on several occasions, to follow in these footsteps.

Let me get to the point and say that it never turned out well. I will never forget the look on my sweet first boyfriend’s face as he tried to think of a kind way to tell me the bad news.

So I resigned to singing alone in my car with the windows up and the radio blaring. When I pulled up to a stop light, I would stop so none of the other passengers would be able to see (or worse, hear) me.

As my husband, Glenn has absolutely heard me sing the most- but I have to admit I still feel a ping of embarrassment when I try to hit a note that I have no business trying to hit. He’s a sweetheart though and never mentions it.

But something changed when I became pregnant. All of a sudden, it became absolutely imperative that I find a song for my baby that they would have for the rest of their lives. More than a lullaby, I wanted something that could randomly show up and remind them just how much I love them and how much they mean to their father and I.

We didn’t know at the time whether Jackson would be a boy or a girl, but I knew it was especially important to find the right song for a son. It seems that nowadays, songs about men are generally quite demeaning- either emphasizing the guy being an idiot, or expressing how horrible he is to women. That wouldn’t do for my sweet baby, if he were a boy I wanted him to know just how loved and special he was.

I decided on the Carpenters, “Close to you.”

An odd choice, I imagine, for anyone that didn’t grow up with my mom. But it echoed the sentiment I wanted my son to feel.

Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time you are near?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

Why do stars fall down from the sky
Every time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

On the day that you were born the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair
Of golden starlight in your eyes of blue

Over my pregnancy, I would practice this song over and over and over. Not only did I hope my little one would hear it and remember it once he was born, but I honestly also hoped to get better at singing it.

I don’t remember the first time I sang it to him after he was born. It seems odd that I don’t, since it had become so important in my mind. It was likely once we got home, though it’s possible I had sung it to him once we got out of the more intensive sections of NICU, where there was a little more privacy. Nevertheless, it’s the song that I still sing almost nightly.

In the year and a half that I’ve been singing to Jack, I can honestly say several things. One, I’ve gotten significantly better at singing it (though I’m no Karen, let me tell you). Two, while babies love listening to you sing in their first year of life, later on it means they’re going to bed and they are no longer as happy to hear it. And third, I know without a doubt that someday he will love hearing it again.

When I reflect back now, I remember how much I would love hearing my mom sing when we were younger. I always thought she sounded beautiful and always wanted to hear her sing more. Never once did I judge her voice, it made me feel safe and loved. And I hope that’s what Jackson feels when he hears me singing.

I will never join a choir, I will never sing loudly in a room full of people (I’m not sure when this would ever happen, but I wouldn’t do it nonetheless), and I still sing in my car with the windows up and the radio blasting.

But I do feel much more comfortable with my voice. It’s not perfect, but it brings my baby comfort (when he’s not screaming that he doesn’t want to go to bed), and that’s more than enough for me.

I’ve already decided what the next baby’s song will be. A little preemptive, but once you know, you know.

Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can’t help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
Would it be a sin
If I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows so surely to the sea
Oh my darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
So take my hand, and take my whole life too
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows so surely to the sea
Oh my darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
So won’t you please just take my hand, and take my whole life too
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love, in love with you
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love, falling in love,
I keep falling in love with you

Ingrid Michaelson, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”