Prior to the birth of my son River in 2010, I never did much singing – at least, not where anyone could hear me. I loved singing along with old-time-rock-and-roll while driving, but I felt I couldn’t carry a tune or hit the right notes, so I usually kept my voice to myself, assuming everyone around me would appreciate my silence.
Yet within a day of River’s birth, something changed. I was standing next to his high-tech bed in the NICU, holding a little hand amid all the tubes and IV lines and monitors hooked up to his tiny body, when I decided I needed to sing to him.
I didn’t care that there were other people listening, and I had no idea whether he could even hear me, but at that point my fear of singing badly seemed ridiculous relative to all my fears about my son’s future.
I sang, and cried, and sang.
And so began a key part of the bond between River and me. Right from the start, I sang him songs to distract him from examinations and blood tests, to pass the time on long drives to therapy appointments, or to relax his tight muscles while doing stretching exercises.
Some were classic children’s songs, others I made up, and over time he has developed his own distinguishing tastes for some songs or musical styles over others. He now has his own CDs for the car and strong preferences for pop-song-videos on YouTube, but he still laughs if his dad makes up something funny or if I sing one of his old favourites.
Perhaps it was only natural that I would gain confidence in my voice and become a singing mom: although my dad has a similarly low opinion of his own voice, some of my favourite childhood memories include the silly songs he made up, which he and I both now belt out together to my own special kids.
We don’t care what we sound like or who else might be listening, because it makes us all feel good.
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