Slumber, my darling.

6 Nov

The act of putting a child to sleep is as ancient as the earth itself.  Since time began, mothers and fathers have used the same old patterns, tricks and routines to gather up calm and shower it down upon restless bodies in preparation for sleep.  Taking part in the ritual is a privilege, even after a day of pure horror.

Seabass has always been partial to bedtime stories and a caressing back scratch.  After reading books about dinosaurs, teddy bears, and (what else?) tractors, he rolls to his side and I let my fingers walk gently across his impossibly tiny shoulders, down his arms and over his peach-fuzzy back.  “Mama, will you sing to me?” is one of his regular requests, and I reply, happily, with something timeless, something true.

imageSweet Chuck also gets a song from me for bedtime, but hers is always coupled with a warm, cozy snuggle.  It is a joy unparalleled to feel her burrow into my neck while I sing and lull in the squeaky rocking chair.  And then, just as the last notes of my tune have decayed, she takes up the melody herself, no matter how sleepy.  She intones a couple of tiny hoots, a gurgle and a hum, mimicking the sounds that I made just seconds before, showing her support for my efforts.

Each parent has their own favorite bedtime song. For me, I like to reach across time and space to join hands with Stephen Foster, who captured the essence of love for children in his “Slumber, My Darling” from the mid-19th century.

I have, literally, never listened to this song without crying.  My mother thought these same thoughts over me as I slept, as did hers over her.

We are not alone, friends, in this helpless, knee-scraping,

reckless-abandon-love we feel for our children.

Slumber, my darling, thy mother is near,
Guarding thy dreams from all terror and fear,
Sunlight has pass’d and the twilight has gone,
Slumber, my darling, the night’s coming on.
Sweet visions attend thy sleep,
Fondest, dearest to me,
While others their revels keep,
I will watch over thee.

Slumber, my darling, the birds are at rest,
The wandering dews by the flow’rs are caressed,
Slumber, my darling, I’ll wrap thee up warm,
And pray that the angels will shield thee from harm.

Slumber, my darling, till morn’s blushing ray
Brings to the world the glad tidings of day;
Fill the dark void with thy dreamy delight–
Slumber, thy mother will guard thee tonight,
Thy pillow shall sacred be
From all outward alarms;
Thou, thou are the world to me
In thine innocent charms.

Slumber, my darling, the birds are at rest,
The wandering dews by the flow’rs are caressed,
Slumber, my darling, I’ll wrap thee up warm,
And pray that the angels will shield thee from harm.

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3 Responses to “Slumber, my darling.”

  1. G November 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Beautiful.

  2. Grandma L November 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    It is a precious moment. They are lucky to be getting your musical heritage.

  3. pjayowns November 8, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    Lovely. Your babies are blessed to have your voice send them off to sleep.

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