Saturday, January 15, 2011

not a baby's lullaby

There are moments in mothering that stop me in my tracks - because of the shock, the joy, the poignancy, the bare truth revealed. The indelible moment that embedded itself in my memory today came in the most unexpected and roundabout way and left me crying in a flood of clarity, relief, and understanding.

The house was too quiet (ha! in a house with three boys??) so I put on Elizabeth Mitchell's album Sunny Day. (It's been about 6 weeks since we heard anything but Christmas music around here.) Aidan said, "Oh I love these songs! I have them on my MP3 player." We had been listening for awhile, singing along with the many familiar songs when he asked, "When will that one come on that starts 'Rest your head my angel?' It's my favorite."

For as much as I love music, I am terrible about actually listening to the words, and I could not think of which song it could possibly be without hearing the tune. A few songs later, he said "This one! This is it!" I listened carefully, ever so carefully. This was my boy's favorite song, and I wanted to know why...

Rest your head my angel
Stay here by my side
I've been doing some thinking
And you've been on my mind.
Oh, you're growing up so fast
Right before my eyes
You don't have to figure everything out
You just take your time
You just take your time.

Come and sit here beside me
Tell me what's on your mind
I can see you've been troubled
But you don't have to cry.
Oh, you're growing up so fast
Right before our eyes
You don't have to figure everything out
You just take your time
You just take your time.

The truth of those words left me with big, fat tears rolling down my cheeks. While it was Elizabeth who sang so beautifully, it was Aidan's clear, beseeching voice I heard in the words that spoke straight to the core of my being. I repeated the song, over and over again, memorizing the profound lyrics.

These last weeks and months, I've been struggling mightily with expecting a lot of my oldest boy, and simultaneously knowing that I'm expecting too much. I can only imagine how hard it is to be the firstborn. Yes, there is a lot of privilege, a lot of opportunity, a lot of singular attention. But there is also a lot of responsibility, a lot of burden, a lot of lofty (and unrealistic) expectations. Recent conversations with my friends have included lengthy discussions on how hard we are on our firstborns. Even knowing that we're hard on them, it's sometimes hard to stop. Because they are so capable, because they are so big and grown up, because they are our first ones and no matter how long we've been a mom, they are still the first to enter uncharted waters, every single day. Toddler tantrums? No problem. A preschooler fighting rest time? Big deal. But first grader frustrations? Oh how often I wish I had a user's manual to guide me.

The song stopped me in my tracks. This lullaby isn't for babies. This is a big boy lullaby, a quiet song to end the day, a deep message for Mother and Child. Yes, you are growing up so fast. I see your troubles and your worries. While I might not cradle you and rock you anymore, please rest your head on me. Leave your worries with me, and take your time. I am here so you can take your time. Take your time, take your time, in your own good time - I will be here. I will let you. I am here.

(Click on the link below to hear Elizabeth Mitchell's version of David's Mandolin - a.k.a Big Boy Lullaby)


paul said...

I love you Anne. Dad/

gthiele said...

Absolutely beautiful !!

Jade Graham said...

Aidan said, "Oh I love these songs! I have them on my MP3 player." We had been listening for awhile,

Anonymous said...

It is uncanny how similar my experiences is to yours. A few weeks ago, my family was listening to Sunny Day by Elizabeth Mitchell. My 4-year-old son kept wanting to hear the same song repeated again and again. I had never paid attention to it before. His focus on it made me really listen to the lyrics, and when I realized what she was singing I was emotional. He wanted to know what the title of the song was but I didn’t know. After some googling of the lyrics, I found your blog entry. He is my oldest and I’ve been struggling with the notion of him growing up as well — he seems so mature at four, more mature than I thought four-year-olds were before I had kids.

I thought this was a beautifully written post and it spoke to my heart. I can see from the date on it that it is seven years old, so the “big boy” you were writing about here is on to a new, exciting stage of life by now, but know that your words still resonate for those of us with babies who suddenly became big boys in the blink of an eye.