It’s 3 o’clock in the morning and for the 3rd night in a row a little girl comes down crying and coughing. Her breathing is wheezy, Her cheeks are flushed and her eyes are so tired.
We have had a permanent pallet on our floor for so many nights.
We fall into parenting without missing a beat. We take temps, administer medicine, give water, hold, cuddle, kiss, pray over and she sleeps.
5:45…”mommy…” she then proceeds to ask me a question. I have no idea what she is talking about! I’m not even sure if I’m dreaming or awake!
7:00 a.m…”mommy, I’m awake.”
We are all awake.
The day passes. Nothing stops. We head to the doctor, the pharmacy, gotta make breakfast, lunch, plan dinner. I help my children with school, I wash dishes, I work on projects. I give medicine, check temperatures and make sure lots of liquids are being consumed. I prepare dinner, take one to piano, take another to swim practice.
My little girl is asleep on the couch completely wrapped up in my blanket.
I carry her upstairs, trying to hoist her on my hips as her legs dangle and I think this is getting more difficult. “Mommy can I sleep with your blanket tonight, it’s so soft.”
How can I say no. It is soft and warm and she feels safe.
I lie down with her and cover her up.
Her eyelids are thick with sleep.
I start to sing her song (to the tune of ‘Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music).
“Elly girl, Elly girl, every morning you greet me”
“Mama, I love when you sing to me,” she says and I wonder…when was the last time I sang to her?
Bedtime comes every evening, some days not soon enough, and I am usually hurrying them up.
“Brush your teeth, wash you face, get your water and get into bed.”
Honestly, the goal of the day is usually bedtime!
Daddy prays, I kiss foreheads and give a last bit of love or encouragement for the day and off to dreamland they go.
Some days I read. Some days my older ones want to talk. Some days I just want for the day to be done.
But I haven’t sang in a while.
“Small and wise, sweet and bright, you’re so happy to me, to me..”
My kids each have a song. One that is theirs alone, all of which have been taken from my favorite musicals and where I may have changed words and added their very names into the lyrics. From the first moments of life while in my womb I would think about the songs I would sing and somewhere along the way I adapted a song for each of them.
“Blossom my child, may you bloom and grow, bloom and grow forever…”
I sing and she cuddles close.
Why don’t I sing to her more?
It was not too long ago that I would carry her to her room and I would nurse her to sleep and hold her close and sing.
It was not long ago that I would carry her to her room with her tiny legs dangling from my arms and I would sit in the overstuffed green chair and hold her close and sing.
It was not too long ago that I would carry her to her room with her legs now longer and reaching past my hips and I would lay her down and lie down next to her and snuggle close and sing.
She’s soft and her breathing is still wheezy, but she gently falls to sleep and I keep singing.
“Elly girl, Elly girl…”
Most days, she walks up on her own. She gets on her own pj’s, she brushes her own teeth, she pulls up her own covers and I don’t sing that often anymore.
And many nights I complain and think, how long do we have to put everyone to bed still? When will they be able to go to bed on their own. It’s a struggle isn’t it? Part of me never wants that day to come. But it is coming. I am realizing that day is coming sooner rather than later. One day she will come into my room and kiss me goodnight and head to her room on her own to read or talk on her phone or just hang out in her room like I use to many years ago.
Soon I won’t be able to carry her.
Soon the snuggles will become more and more scarce.
Soon the songs will be whispers of memories in the background like soundtracks to a season remembered.
So as I snuggle closer and take in her sweetness, I promise myself to sing more; to carve her song into her heart. I pray her mama’s singing won’t be just a sweet memory, but comfort and beauty and grace that will carry her forever.