The last lullaby

    I’ve written before about parenting as a million tiny goodbyes. Some of those goodbyes, like sending your child off to kindergarten, you realize as they’re happening. But most of them slip right through your fingertips while you’re busy getting the kids to sleep. 

    My six year old and I have a simple bedtime routine. Put on PJs, brush teeth, and get in (my) bed. She reads a book to me, then I read a book to her.

    But last night after a long day (and a glow-in-the-dark nighttime egg hunt), she said she was too tired to read to me. At 10 p.m., I couldn’t argue with her. She said she was also too tired for me to read to her, so she wanted a lullaby instead.

    A lullaby. Like the ones I sang every single night of her life, and of her older siblings lives, for years and years and years? I sang nightly lullabies for 14 years. So you’d think I would have noticed that she’d stopped asking for them a year ago. But I didn’t.

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    Last night, as I was singing my wobbly version of Tom Petty’s “Alright for Now,” I tried to remember the last time I’d sung to her at bedtime. I think we belted out some Christmas carols together before bed during December, but I couldn’t remember the last lullaby.

    I remember singing to her when she was in kindergarten last year. So maybe it happened last summer with the switch in our routine? Sometime last year, we’d stopped my favorite part of our nightly ritual, and I hadn’t even noticed.

    Singing to her again last night, I remembered singing to all of my kids, as babies and toddlers and beyond. From The Beatles, to Lauryn HIll, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Bob Dylan.

    Each of my four children had their songs, with a little bit of overlap. Some nights I hopped from room to room, trying to catch each of the three younger ones right before they fell asleep.

    But now they have their own songs. They’re listening to Katy Perry and Drake and Lorde and John Legend. Their music drifts through our hallways, blares from their iThings, and fills the car on every ride. But it no longer comes from me.

    It’s just one of those tiny goodbyes. The goodbye to me being their music.

    But last night was our reprise, and I was able to note the goodbye I had somehow missed last year.

    Last lullaby: April 19, 2014.

    Or maybe I can sneak in a few more.

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