A Lullaby’s Worth


I just closed the door to my 3yo son’s darkened bedroom.  We had our regular nightly routine of stories and songs, and I knelt in gratitude, as I always do, that I can still sing him to sleep with a song.

I chuckle to think of the quote I once heard, credited to poet James Fenton:

“The lullaby is the spell whereby the mother attempts to transform herself back from an ogre to a saint.

Heaven knows there are days when I have been an ogre, and there are nights when I do in fact feel the power of a lullaby – our quiet time together, these memories we are making – begin to heal and redeem me.

But I sometimes worry and wonder over these memories, too.  What are they worth to my son?  What do they mean for our relationship together?  Surely he will not recall the nights I sat on his bed, read him his “three stories!”, then knelt by his bed with my hand on his back, singing him his “three songs!” as he drifted to sleep.  Does the time really matter?

I recently read Kelly Corrigan’s lovely novella Lift, and my breath caught in my throat as I read this passage she wrote to her two young daughters:

You won’t remember how it started with us, the things that I know about you that you don’t even know about yourselves.  We won’t come back here.

And it’s true.  We won’t ever be here again.  Which is why it IS so important this time that we share.  He may not be able to pull these memories out of those solid places where mental picture postcards are stored, but…when he reaches into the recesses of his heart, he will know – even more than remember – that he has been loved, and loved well.