Sunday, August 21, 2011


We're well into the third trimester, the trimester in which we are all very sleepy, all the time.  Sean is sleepy because he's doing all the household upkeep by himself.  I am sleepy because I'm 32 weeks pregnant.  Hank the Dog is sleepy because he's bored out of his mind. He wakes up every hour or so and checks to make sure I'm still breathing.  Once satisfied, he goes back to sleep.

You know who isn't sleepy?  Walter Paul.  This baby is all about the moving and the shaking.  So, I wrote him a lullaby.

It goes like this:

Walter, Walter go to sleep
May your dreams be always sweet
God loves you and we do too
Walter, Walter through and through

Walter, Walter you are loved
By friends on earth and friends above
Love surrounds you everyday
And when you sleep, in love you stay

Walter, you're our precious boy
And you bring us so much joy
Tomorrow is another day
To learn and work and grow and play

Walter, Walter go to sleep
May your dreams be always sweet
God loves you and we do too
Walter, Walter through and through 

It's going to be a very lovely and effective lullaby if I can ever get through it without crying. I love this kid a whole, whole bunch. Singing him his lullaby reminds me of all the times my mom sang me to sleep (when I was little, and then sometimes when I was not-so-little anymore.)  I remember the day she told me that she wrote my lullaby for me.  I was amazed.  I was a little skeptical.  "Really?" I asked.  "You wrote the words and the tune and everything?  How did you do it?"  She responded that it wasn't really that hard to do.  It all just came to her.

I remained skeptical.  I tried to write my own lullaby that very night (I must have been 15 or so.)  Nothing doing. I worried that I would be a complete failure as a mother.  Surely my creativity was not going to improve with age.  Where would I get a lullaby?

It turns out that my mom was right.  Once inspired, it's not really that hard to do.  One afternoon I laid down for a rest and got kicked extra hard in an already-sore spot.  I wondered if singing might help.  I started thinking about all the things I wanted to say to Walter in that moment: I love you. God loves you. The whole communion of saints, on earth and in heaven, loves you. And for the love of all things holy, stop kicking me so hard.

The tune and the words came easily from there.  Sean joked that we're never going to remember all the verses.  My mom thinks we will--and we will probably come up with more.  Sometimes babies really, really don't feel like sleeping.  

There's a lot of love in a lullaby that's written just for you.  Not some hypothetical, platonic ideal of love: love inspired by real events, like sleepless nights and cranky days.  When I sing Mom's lullaby now--my lullaby--I think about those real life events, and I'm even more grateful than before (and that's very grateful, indeed.)

Here's baby Annie's lullaby, written and composed by Sue Edison-Swift, inspired by real events.  It's called Tukka Vessa Dokka ... Norwegian-sounding nonsense words, but Dokka means "Dolly" and was what my mom's dad used to call her.

Tukka Vessa Dokka
Annie's getting sleepy
Annie's getting tiah
Now's the time for bye-ah
It has been a busy day
Now let's settle down
Now's the time to dream sweet dreams and put away all frown

Tukka Vessa Dokka
You're our little Annie
And we love you dearly
'Cuz you're part of the family
And we think you're wonderful
And we think you're smart
And we know you've come in the very middle of our heart

Hank the Dog is snoring on the couch.  Sean is upstairs catching a much-needed Sunday Afternoon Clergy Spouse Nap (not as famous a phenomenon as the Sunday Afternoon Clergy Nap, but just as real.)  Walter is kicking me again, but gently.  We are a sleepy family, but we are well, and we are loved. Tomorrow is another day to learn and work and grow and play. 


Momes said...

Walter's lullaby is beautiful, Annie! Although I don't know how a Norwegian would spell "Takka vessa Dokka," according to your Grandpa Kermit it meant "my little dolly" or "such a little dolly." I've been thinking about how I will sing your lullaby to my new grandson. Here's verse 3:
Takka vessa baby,
Our beloved Walter,
Oh, we love you dearly
'cause your part of the family.
It has been a busy day,
Now it's time to rest.
Now's the time to dream sweet dreams
And ask the Lord to bless!

Pastor Annie said...

I love it! Hmmmm, could have sworn you told me once that the first two words were kind of phonetic approximations of Norwegian, but if it's a Kermit-ism, it's even better!

Walt had a funny case of hiccups this morning. I hope they don't make him too uncomfortable ... of all his identifiable movements I think I like the hiccups the best.

Anonymous said...

I've been singing Jillian her lulluby since birth and recently had the unexpected bonus of her trying to sing along! She chimes in every few words in a way that is quite off-key, very loud, and extremely endearing. The last line of our song is "I love you more than anybody knows" and she always repeats that last words when I lay her down... except, since she is not yet 2, it sounds *just* like she says "bloody nose" before bed every night. HAHA! -Katie Hammer