When my sisters and I were little, our mom would wake us up in the morning with a song. Now, hold your “awwws” for just a moment, because it was an original song, sung in operetta, while she was opening the blinds in our otherwise dark bedrooms. She’d sing, “Good morning girrrrrlllsss, how’d you sleep last night?” And we’d groan and roll over and pull the covers tightly over our heads. But we’d also giggle, because we knew it wasn’t done maliciously. My mom’s singing came from the bottom of her heart, but it made us squeal and laugh and cringe a little, all at the same time. It’s not so much that my mom doesn’t have a good voice (because, according to my dad, it’s excellent), as it is the Pavlovian reflex it sets off: her good morning song = time to get out of bed, greet the day, and go to school. My sister, Kelley, hated this so much that when we were still young enough to share a room and a bed, she would lay her clothes out on the end of our bed before she went to sleep at night, so she could get dressed for elementary school while still lying down (you may be tempted to think that maybe we stayed up too late watching Quantum Leap, but if you know Kelley, you know that this sleep obsession hasn’t changed much over the years). Even today, when my mom begins to croon that little ditty (which she does, when we’re home for the holidays), my shoulders instinctively creep toward my ears and I look for a place to hide. I swore to myself that I would never sing that song to my kids when I was a mom.
I’m sure you know where this is going. Guess what I found myself singing this morning? Yep. “Good morning, Dylan….how’d you sleep last night?” And as soon as I heard myself, I actually scolded myself out loud. While my mom’s voice made us cringe because the song meant we had to get out of bed, my voice just makes you cringe, period. No, seriously. I’m not being self-deprecating so that you’ll feel obligated compliment me. It’s ok. It took me awhile to accept this: years of pouting when my dad would say, “Kate, give that cow some more rope.” Or, having to rely on liquid courage to karaoke Me & Bobby McGee in the wee hours of the morning, only to have my friends say, “If it wasn’t for all those la la la la la la la las.” I’m at peace with my lack of vocal talent.
However, the sad truth is that no matter how terrible my singing voice is, I cannot NOT sing to my baby. In fact, I’m thinking that maybe if my good morning song is different from my mom’s, Dylan won’t hate it by the time he’s 15. And so far, it seems to be working. I swear he smiles when I sing to him. At the moment, I prefer “Good Morning, Good Morning. It’s great to stay up late!” from Singing in the Rain. And sometimes I change the last part of the refrain to “Good Morning, Good Morning, You didn’t sleep at all last night!” He coos and smiles and I get a rush of self-confidence. But don’t worry, I’m not that good at fooling myself. I’m sure he’ll be drawing the covers over his head soon enough. In the meantime, though, I have the greatest live audience ever. Rock Star Mama.