The first few weeks are a blur. We had lots of family in town as Chip is the first grandchild on either side. Everyone was so kind as to literally camp at our humble home in Old Towne Orange and not do too much but the occasional walk to a local waffle shop. And Chip? He slept. The entire time. He literally woke up to eat, and would go right back to sleep. I read a statistic that newborns are asleep 18 hours out of every day. I would say that was pretty accurate. I do remember one night that the Grandmas were holding him and he woke up, and for a brief moment he showed us some of his personality. He furrowed his brow and started to make eye contact. I was so excited and something new welled up inside me and I wanted to freeze that moment in time and play it over and over again.
And so, here we are at 10 weeks and we have a pretty good mix of sleep and personality. Chip the Champ as I like to call him, started sleeping through the night 2 weeks ago and the consecutive stretch of sleep is rather amazing. He still is not the best napper during the day unless you hold him, but I’m alright with that right now. You see, I have to go back to work in 2 weeks, and I am realizing that the past 10 weeks are something that I will hold on to. I will never have that time with him again and I know that when he is older, naps that are taken in my arms will be few and far between, until one day they wont be there at all. I am becoming more aware that the faces he makes will one day change, and I am looking forward to the days that he will do something, perhaps in the far distant future, and I will flash back to that same face from these first few months.
My favorite way to put him to sleep is the lullaby. We don’t have a rocking chair, and instead we opted for exercise balls. It seemed like the right thing to do. I love bouncing him softly, all swaddled up and singing him to sleep. I begin with a song called “Old Paint” that my dad used to sing to me when I was little. It’s a sweet song about a man who loves his horse, and while I did’t have any horses, my dad did and so I could picture him inside the song. As I sing it, I still picture the same scene I did when I was little, and I wonder what scenes will flash through Chip’s imagination as the years go on. I then begin “Amazing Grace”, a song that is the beginning teaching about what Grace is and Who gives it, but it’s also a moment of worship for me. As I sing these lyrics there are so many thoughts, prayers, desires, hopes, memories and fears that fill each syllable. I want to stop and pray, I want to sit and watch, and again, I want to freeze these moments in time to replay over and over again.
But sometimes, I just don’t have words. At the end of a long day, I find myself thinking back to his first cry in the morning and wondering if today I did all that I could do. Did I pay enough attention? Did I let him play when he needed to play, and sleep when he needed to sleep? Where was my heart? Do I remember what it was like at his age? Will he? What will he look like as he gets older? Can he please stay this way forever? These questions and more come to the surface and because it’s all too much for me to think about, I find myself surrendering to the tune of Old Paint and somehow intertwine these questions into the stitches of the lyrics. Prayers from my heart are lifted up, and although disguised as lyrics with a sing-songy tune, I love this lullaby.
I’m beginning to understand that lullabies were made to entertain children, and to soothe them when they are upset. Their tunes are simple and the lyrics are easy to remember, perhaps so children can replay these songs throughout the course of their lives. But these simple tunes and lyrics were also meant for parents; to be so ingrained in their memories that they can play on autopilot while deep prayers and emotions are streaming a million miles a minute through their heads. Lullabies are a gift of simple words because the things we want to say are almost always too big and too much. They offer us a moment in time where our words won’t do our hearts justice, so we can instead sit and sings tunes that have been sung for decades, while our hearts pray prayers that are so fragile we fear our human words may get in the way.
It turns out that lullabies are bigger than I could have ever imagined.