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Lullaby

I sing it to the tune of Edelweiss, the tinkering melody that plays when I open my jewelry box. I sing it when she is in my arms and struggling to settle quietly down to rest.

Everything beyond her name is part nonsense, part subject to be changed on a whim or in a late night moment when I cannot remember the words myself.

Evaline, Evaline,

it’s time to lay down for sleeping.

You’re small and sweet and our family’s complete,

I am so happy to meet you.

— Commence humming until the melody brings me back to a point where I can plug her name in again. —

I inherited this from my mother. Along with rocking back and forth (with or without a child in my arms), muttering to myself under my breath while cleaning, or leaving a half-full mug of reheated coffee in the microwave – I sing nonsense punctuated by my child’s name to soothe (or entertain) my children.

Last night, because we are either overly optimistic parents or foolish, we put Evie down for her first night in her own toddler bed.

And by “put down” I mean forty minutes of wrestling, picking-up-and-returning-to-her-bed, scolding, covering and re-covering, milk delivering, and finally, hugging and humming.

It is the only thing that stopped her flailing and transformed her whimpers and whines to slow, sleeping breaths. Evaline, Evaline, I stroked her fine blonde hair. I must have sung it for twenty minutes, dropping words, changing to do-do-do-do’s, humming, pausing to check for signs of stirring.

Alex, unable to sleep and still adjusting to this routine of going to bed earlier to be rested for school, he put down his flashlight and Boxcar Children book and curled up along the rails of his bunk bed. If I paused to check on Evie’s sleep-or-awake status, he would gently ask, can you keep singing?

My soon-to-be eight year old, hugging my old Pound Puppy and yearning for lullabies. It was one of the moments I’ll press into my heart like a Polaroid tucked safely into an album labeled Love.

Can you sing my song?

His song is an odd variation of Sweet Home Alabama, and it involves a blue eyed baby (because his eyes didn’t settle on brown until closer to his second birthday.)

I told him his song was a little too rock and roll after having just gotten Evie to sleep.

And so instead, I sang Evaline, Evaline a few more times and kissed him goodnight. My eldest, my second grader, my champion-prince to his little sisters, my warrior hero to his younger brother, my little man-to-be, still wants me.

I thought about how amazing and wonderful it is to be needed, to have people who find peace and magic in your very presence, in the silly and nonsensical words of a hushed lullaby.

I thought of how grateful I am for my own mother and all of the odd and sweet and wonderful ways of caring that she somehow managed to pass along to me, despite my years of eye-rolling and door slamming.

I thought of how many more (and how very few) nights like this I will have between now and when my own children are putting on headphones in lieu of asking me for a lullaby.

Melanie Muffin, she’s my friend,

I’ll love her ’til the very end…

(Lyrics courtesy of my mother)

This is where Sweet baby, Alexander and Evaline, Evaline come from. This is where come from. Silliness and love and rocking chair melodies.

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.  – Zephaniah 3:17

This is where we all come from – a parent who loves us so greatly, he sings it over us, he bathes us in it.

Turns out, I’m probably not crazy at all, for all of my made-up lyrics and nonsensical lullabies. It is only an outpouring of my heart. I am rejoicing and I am loving, aloud.

And long after I am allowed to sing over my children, He still will.

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Writer, Photographer, Wife, Mother to four rambunctious and amazing children.

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