A Homemade Lullaby

One of my Go-To stories to tell is how I thought – until the age of 9 – that I was the BEST SINGER IN THE WORLD. In my head, my voice matched those on the radio and in church I sang loud and strong like I was the leader of the choir. I sang in my room, in my shower, EVERYWHERE. I loved to sing and I was the singingest singer in all the land.

And then – one day in 3rd grade – a girl name Michelle sat next to me at school mass and quietly told me after, “Hey. You really can’t sing very well but you do it REALLY LOUDLY so I wasn’t sure if you knew or not.”

WHAT?

I went home and immediately recorded myself singing on a tape and played it back and HOLY SHIT, Y’all. SHE WAS SPOT ON. I WAS TERRIBLE.

I mean, there’s “kinda bad” and “can’t carry a tune” and then there’s “causes blood curdling agony” and I was much closer to that final level on the scale of terrible singers and I was OH SO DAMN LOUD.

And while that moment was heart-breaking and embarrassing, I’m weirdly grateful to Michelle because I might have gone on to an embarrassing moment on American Idol without her.

But I still love to sing. And I still sing. I just do it much softer AND I make sure I tell my story often enough that everyone around me is aware that I know I’m terrible so they don’t have that awkward moment of hearing my voice and then thinking, “Oh god…” because…It doesn’t matter! Kim knows she’s a terrible singer! So we can just enjoy her terrible singing with her!

Or something like that.

When E was a baby I would do what all parents do, I would sing him to sleep. I often sang church songs because they were my favorite, but I also made up one that I sang the most often because it was simple and easy to sing.


Oh E-li-ah, E-li-ah,
I’ll always
Love you!
Yes I always
Will love you
No matter
What you do!

And I would sing it over and over and over.

Then I had Nikki and it turns out


Oh Ny-oh-ka, Ny-oh-ka,

fits perfectly. So she heard the song a million times too. And then with a slight change in rhythm I was even able to do


Oh Wes-ly, Oh Wes-ly,

and sing him the same song.

So it was my thing, I guess. And lately, Nikki has really wanted the calming lullaby/back rub before bed so I’ve been reviving the tradition of singing my homemade lullaby. Her anxiety hits her hardest at night and she gets sad and scared and she really likes the relaxing effects of a back rub combined with a lullaby and it MAKES ME SO HAPPY because, she doesn’t care how terrible I sing. I love when she asks for it because first – it gives us a little bit of a callback moment to infancy and she’s growing up so fast those moments are cherished. But I also love that my voice and my lullaby can still soothe her even if Simon Cowell would have shunned me.

Truthfully, it’s more of a whisper and doesn’t require much tune so even a terrible singer like myself can’t screw it up too much. When I composed it during E’s infant years I made sure to keep it soft and uncomplicated so that anyone overhearing my lullaby wouldn’t be in too much agony. But it is still singing and I always joke with her about how happy it makes me she wants me to sing to her even though I’m a terrible singer. Last night I laughed and said, “I should record this and do a blog post about it.”

She said, “Mom! Do it! Because it’s a great song and you wrote it!”

HA! So not only does she not mind my out of tune voice, but she is also impressed that I came up with it ALL BY MYSELF. Turns out she also loves that it is customizable. She’s always thought it was pretty amazing that I had a song that I could stick the kid’s names into.

See? Whisper sing. The secret of all terrible singers.

It’s a small moment in her life, this lullaby/backrub moment. But I still think it’s one that will stick with me because she needs me and as she gets older that’s more and more rare. And it gives me ONE THING I can do to help her with her anxieties.

7 thoughts on “A Homemade Lullaby”

  1. I have enough of a musical ear to know I’m off key but not enough to fix it. I learned the song Hush little baby when Sydney was born. She and Wesley still like the lullaby, but I’ve customized it quite a lot, using their names instead of baby, and saying find instead of buy after much concern from Wesley one day (but all that is so expensive!) Lately with Wesley, I’ve gotten his stuffed animals involved (I’m not a mocking bird, I’m a bunny! Who later breaks the looking glass with his big feet.) it is a wonderful time of love and laughter, when my anxious child is full of giggles. I love that we can have these moments with our children and hope they create happy memories for them that stay with them!

  2. I do the SAME THING! Except with Wesley of course I always have to buy him “poop pie” because that cracks him up the most 🙂

  3. My absolute favorite part of my kids’ baby-hood was singing night-night songs! I agree, it is a wonderful time of bonding. I never wrote one of my own, but did change the words of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to:
    Twinkle Twinkle little Sean
    How I wonder what goes on
    Up inside your brilliant head
    When it’s time to go to bed
    Twinkle Twinkle little Sean
    See you with the morning dawn.

    He loved it. His 8-years-older sister got kind of jealous when she heard it one night, so I made up one for her too…but I can’t remember it now. I guess because I didn’t sing it every single night for 5 years. Haha.

    For you, Kim, I say to always remember the wise words of Big Bird: Sing, sing a song/ sing out loud, sing out strong/ Don’t worry if it’s not good enough/ for anyone else to hear/ Just sing, sing a song!

  4. I thought about ASMR too! I suffer from anxiety and I usually listen to ASMR videos (I convert them into MP3s) to fall asleep. I only wish I’d discovered them years ago and I think Nyoka would really benefit from making a playlist for herself (not to replace the private performance from you, just to supplement it)!

  5. I still sing to my 13 year old sometimes. The song is in spanish and I have no idea what the words mean! Something about Jesus!

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