I’m up in the middle of the night, cradling my sweet baby whose cold is keeping him from falling back asleep. As we sway in his rocking chair, a dim nightlight illuminating a corner of this dark room, I sing to him my usual soundtrack of bedtime songs.
I’ve Just Seen a Face by the Beatles, because it was the song that played on the radio as we drove to the hospital when I was in labor.
Peaceful Easy Feeling by the Eagles, because that was the concert I went to the night before I found out I was pregnant.
I sing these songs because they’re meaningful to me; they hold memories of my little boy. But, tonight, as I listen to his sleepy breath through his stuffy nose, I’m suddenly aware that these songs mean more to me. They’re not just songs. They’re prayers.
Wouldn’t It Be Nice by the Beach Boys, because I pray one day my baby boy will find someone he loves who wants to grow old with him.
You Are My Sunshine because I pray my baby makes it safely to morning.
Dream a Little Dream of Me by The Mamas & The Papas because, please God, won’t he just fall asleep already?!
I sing them with a muted voice but a passionate heart, willing the lyrics to become truth. This realization surprises me. I had always understood the picture of a mother rocking her baby as one of strength, confidence, and love. But as I sit here with my baby, yes, I guess I feel those things, but I’m also rocking a quiet rhythm of worry, fear, and anxiety.
Are we sure this is just a cold? Is he warm enough? Will I wake up if something is really wrong? Will he be smart? Will he have friends? Will he get picked on? Will he be happy?
And then I think, this must be how it’s always been. Generations of babies, rocked to sleep and tucked in tight under a blanket woven of their mothers’ prayers, worries, hopes, and wishes. Passionate prayers disguised as familiar melodies.
In the middle of the night — or is it morning now? — this is motherhood.