Sing Me My Song, Mama


Nights with Jacob were intolerable. As a young first time mother, I truly didn’t know what to expect, but I know I didn’t expect 20 minutes of sleep per night for weeks on end. I felt as though we were the only two people in the world, and that neither of us knew exactly what to do with one another. In a sleep-deprived effort to calm his crying, I sang. I sang Shania Twain.  I sang Vanilla Ice.  I sang New Kids on the Block.

It was the early 90s. Don’t judge me.

A friend, upon hearing me belt out “Pump Up The Jam” to my screaming baby, gave to me a cassette tape of lullabies and suggested I add something a little less Technotronic to my repertoire.  It might have simply been time and bonding that settled us into a less frenetic relationship, or it might have been a song.

“Well the sun is surely sinking down, and the moon is slowly rising.”

Night after night, long after the cassette tape had worn out, I sang James Taylor to my son.  Jacob grew, and began to ask for it simply as “my song.”  

“Sing me my song, Mama,” he would ask each night.  And so I did.

“And this old world must still be spinnin’ around, and I still love you.”

Years later, when his brother was born, Jacob refused to share his song. “Stop!” he would cry, each time I would begin to sing it to Logan. “That’s my song. Get him his own song.”

And so Jacob’s song remained solely ours.  Jacob grew to be a boy’s boy, with an intense love of sports and girls.  He was tough as nails, until bedtime. “Sing me my song, Mama.”

Jacob was 11 on the night his father asked me for a divorce.  I didn’t see it coming, and it hit me like a Mack truck. I thought the boys were asleep, but as I hovered over the toilet, sick with fear and betrayal, my son stood in the doorway.  With tears streaming down his cheeks, he asked “Sing me my song, Mama?” He hadn’t asked in a while. It was his way of removing me from my agony.  And so, through my grief, I sang.

“So close your eyes, you can close your eyes, it’s alright.

I don’t know no love songs, and  I can’t sing the blues anymore,

But I can sing this song. And you can sing this song when I’m gone.”

As he grew into a teenager, Jacob didn’t ask for his song as much. When he did, it was because he was scared or stressed. It was because of a bad grade or a bad girlfriend.  

“It won’t be long before another day. We’re gonna have a good time.”

Our song had become a bond between us that calmed him, mended him, rooted him. It reminded him that I was still there.

“No one’s gonna take that time away. You can stay as long as you like.”

Jacob is grown. He will be a father any day now.  I will be a grandmother for the first time, and although I’m not as terrified as when I brought Jacob home, it’s still new territory for me. But when the commotion of the delivery room calms down, when the pictures have been taken and the cigars have been passed out, when I hold my fresh pink grandson for the first time, I know just what I will say to him.

“So close your eyes, you can close your eyes, it’s alright.

I don’t know no love songs, and I can’t sing the blues anymore,

But I can sing this song. And you can sing this song when I’m gone.”



4 thoughts on “Sing Me My Song, Mama

  1. you made me cry. and to remember that same time (the 90’s), those same horrible words (that jerk), and that paralyzing fear (I’m still not quite over yet). Andrew and I had Tawny, Scrawny Lion for comforting, though. Thanks for sharing!

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