Tuesday, September 24, 2013

If, for no other reason...

What an interesting day. Anyone who reads the blog knows my daughter isn't the greatest sleeper. But that's really my only challenge with her. At least, not until today.

Baby girl is usually so happy. She rarely fusses or cries, and when she does, it's for good reason. But today has been different. From the moment she woke up she's not been the girl I know. For one thing, she's screeching at her daddy and me. I could be down on the floor playing with her, holding her, after having just changed her and fed her, and she's screeching at me. Frustratedly. As if I'm not doing ANYTHING right. As if I haven't paid attention to her in hours. What gives, baby?

This time I didn't run to the internet for answers because I already know what internet would say. Growth spurt, teething, developmental changes, etcetera, blah-yadda, blah-cetera. So yes, it probably is one of those things, or more. No one can know for sure. All I know for sure is she's acting like she hasn't had a nap in weeks, when she had a good one only an hour ago, and her life is half an Elizabethan tragedy, half a Sartre-esque hell.

At first, I resisted being kind toward this behavior. Maybe I'm giving her too much attention, and now she's demanding it? Now, if we're all in the same room, all eyes/hands must be on her, or else? Oh, I don't think so, little miss. You calm yourself down this minute. But then things went from bad to worse, as they often do.

By the time I'd carried her into the bedroom for a story before her nap (earlier than I normally would,) she couldn't even sit with me on the bed. I tried nursing again. No, mom! Gosh! Throw in the towel, this girl is done. There was something distinctive in the way that she was crying that made me soften. She was obviously ticked, but it was more than that. Let me see if I can put it in words: "Mama, this sucks. I hate how I feel right now. Nothing is fun. Nothing tastes good. Nothing feels right. And I don't want to do this today." It was this sad little face, her sweet mouth turned in a frown, her torso twisting and bending in my arms, capped with a head collapsing into my chest, that changed my heart. I know exactly how this little girl feels. I've had days like this, too. Nothing helps. Nothing makes it better. I know, Little, I know.

I turned on the fake rain (from our noise machine) and drew the curtains. She cried harder. I grabbed Bear, and the three of us commiserated for a few minutes in my arms. I put Bear down, and she cried harder. Right shoulder? No good. Left shoulder? Nope. Cradled sideways? Well....not great, but I can work with this position. Over and over we tried to find a good spot to snuggle and rock in. And then I did the only other thing I could think of. I started to sing.

"Whenever I hear the song of a bird, or look at the blue, blue sky...."

There are moments in motherhood, I'm finding, that are startlingly sacred.

"Whenever I feel the rain on my face, or the wind as it rushes by...."

Now I've got her attention. The fussing slows. And something warm is washing over us both.

"Whenever I touch a velvet rose, or walk by a lilac tree..."

And then I sang higher,

"I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world Heavenly Father created for me."

She went all quiet. I think it was the high note that gave her pause. I sang the second verse.

I'm hardly ever happy with the sound of my voice. There's hardly ever a time when I think, wow, that sounded pretty good. But when I sang to baby today, I marveled. My voice was brilliant. It was clear and pure. The intonation was effortless, the phrasing, the breathing, it was perfect. This was not my voice. It was my voice, and it wasn't. It was my voice after I die, the voice I'll sing with when I'm in heaven. Not my voice here. Not my mortal voice with mistakes in it. I was so thrilled with how I sounded, I sang some more.

"Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you. Away, you rolling river...."

Baby girl stayed quiet, her eyes open, looking weary and distant. But she was listening. I sang my heart out to her. I sang as if I knew my voice was healing her pain, her discomfort, whatever it was that was making her sad. I sang like I was on stage at Symphony Hall in front of thousands of people. I filled my voice with as much love as a song can hold. And then she closed her eyes. Her breath was rhythmic. I pulled her close to me, and we swayed in silence, my head resting on hers.

It was at this point when I realized I was standing on holy ground.  Here at the Marriott Residence Inn in Charlottesville. There were angels standing in a circle around me and my girl. And all of us swayed together in the quiet, with the fake rain to soothe our minds. And I praised God for the beautiful girl I held in my arms. I never, ever, ever wanted it to end. I hope she feels better. I hope she will someday know how loved she is. I hope she knows that bad days eventually pass, but until they do, singing helps. And I know for sure, now, that if God gave me a voice for no other reason than for this day, and that experience, it was reason enough.


Julia Sanders said...

Again with getting me all teary! As I was reading this I was just thinking, of all the singing I have done or will do, singing to my kids will be the most important to me, and that is the performance I look forward to the most. This was such a beautiful post. I just love you!

Mary said...

Julia, I just love YOU! You're an inspiration with all that you're doing in your life, I sit in awe of it. You're such a gifted singer/songwriter, but it's true. Singing for your children will be the most soul satisfying experience of them all. And you'll be amazed with how beautiful you will sound. Another way God shows us who and what really matters. We give the best of ourselves to our children, and he magnifies our gifts to them ten fold.

SeƱora H-B said...

Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing your sacred experience.