He breaks my heart in a place that is already broken.
Not that he knows.
Or has any idea how he heals it all in the same moment too.
For any other parent, any other child; it’s a bedtime stall tactic.
Except, he has no way of knowing that his words destroy the defenses around my walled-in hope after 35 years.
Mommy! Sing me a lullaby! No wait, sing me three.
The Edelweiss one.
and the Irish one.
and the family one.
And just like that, the wall is breached.
Hurt and hope squeeze out in equal measure, until logic reminds me that I have a reason and a right to be self-conscious.
Dread sits squarely atop my lungs, daring me to defer to sanity.
No one wants to hear a deaf person sing.
Except. He’s my boy.
And my performance anxiety will be long-forgotten someday, swallowed up in his childhood.
Edelweiss hums hesitantly… memories of a decade of ballet company warm-ups with a sweet elderly German pianist.
He closes his eyes, but cannot resist a grin when he hears the first words of my off-key personalized version of his next request…
He’s my dear my darling one
My smiling and beguiling one.
I love the ground he walks upon.
My handsome Irish boy.
I sing it twice through to his uncomplaining sleepy face.
I steel myself.
My voice doesn’t bother him like it bothers others. It’s just “Mom’s voice”.
But still, the dread.
I stare at my insecurities head-on as I recall his last request.
The one sung by three generations to their babies. The family song.
One that is a true lullaby – meant to be sweetly sung.
Knowing that each generation before me sang with lovely, stage-worthy voices, family harmonies, and clear sweetness. And knowing that I am utterly unqualified, except…
that the words are pure love. Crooned into my own ears as a colicky baby. Crooned into my mother’s ears as an infant. Into every aunt, uncle, cousin and grandchild’s hearing; each time made to fit them.
He’s my little baby boy
baby, baby, baby boy
He’s my little baby sweetheart boy.
And the locked up places where I longed to be able to sing to my boy - are suddenly lit with the dim glow of the cowboy nightlight next to my son’s bed.
He’s done me no small miracle.
And I’ve sung him to sleep.