Five for Ten: Happiness

May 12, 2010 at 9:15 am | Posted in Five for Ten, Giggles | 42 Comments
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My son is a child of few words.

He understands plenty. But the words he chooses to articulate? Are the ones he adores. And shouts with exuberance.

Choo-choo! Fire truck! Pretzel! Balloon! Daddy!

He is a mobile exclamation mark, talking, laughing, scurrying about, and pitching fits with verve.


When he was three months old, we desperately wanted him to learn to sleep in his room. In his bed. Until then, he had steadfastly refused anywhere except the car seat. On the coffee table. And three-hour shifts on the nearby couch had left our backs and minds in knots.

I began taking him to his room and feeding him for the last time. I turned the lights down low and the white noise up loud. I bounced him on my birthing ball, willing him to sleep with the rhythm of my body, the warmth of my arms, and the lull of my voice. Bounce, bounce, bounce. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Please, please, please.

I began to sing, the first song that came to my mind. Little boy blue, come blow your horn.

Over and over, I sang it, the only verse I knew. Sheep’s in the meadow and cow’s in the corn.

His enormous eyes stared back at me, his thick lashes willing themselves to stay open. Where is the boy who looks after the sheep?

Just when his soft, chubby body began to relax, he would jar himself awake. He’s in the hayloft, fast asleep.

And I would start again. I sang it so many times, I started making up new verses. Trying out words and rhymes, replacing ones that didn’t quite fit, adding in his name. Through trial and error, as we bounced together in the darkness, both exhausted, I drafted, reworked, rewrote. I created a lullaby. For him.


Last week, after a particularly adventurous afternoon β€” Swings! Chalk! Pizza! Bubbles! β€” I rubbed my son’s cheek as he settled into his crib. He laid his damp, blond hair on his soft, blue pillow. He threaded the corner of his yellow blanket between his long fingers. He tucked his stuffed mouse into the crook of his arm.

Very, very quietly, my rambunctious whirlwind of a boy, my precious exclamation mark, whispered two new words. “Sing blue?”

And I sang. The same words we created together those many nights ago. The same words I sing to him every night.

But in my heart? Only one word: happiness.


Read more about happiness at Momalom’s Five for Ten.



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  1. Oh, I so adore this. Husband and I made up a song when Toddler was tiny and we still sing her our makeshift lullaby every night. Part of me hopes that she asks for that song forever.

    Thank you for this sweetness on this Wednesday morning.

  2. Oh my goodness. No words. So beautiful…really so amazing that you have that with him. What an amazing connection and gift for just the two of you.

    P.S. I did lots of that begging myself with my first two boys, please, please, please just go to sleep.

  3. I can relate to singing the same lullabies to Claire every night, and only the verse or so that I know of each. You put everyday moments into words so beautifully! Have I mentioned yet that I love this blog?

  4. Oh the sleeping and the singing – I can so relate. But the words you string together to create this story – just beautiful.

  5. This is beautiful! I love how you describe him as a mobile exclamation mark–how clever is that?

    For my first-born, it was “Wouldn’t it Be Lovely” from My Fair Lady…and like you, it was just the first thing that popped into my head. Funny, I’d forgotten. Thank you for taking me back.

  6. I just LOOOOVVVEEED this. I can relate to just about ALL of it. My son also has few words and each one he shouts with resounding excitement- as if it will be the last word he’ll ever speak. I also recall painful hours of bouncing and rubbing and walking and more bouncing to WILL little Luke to sleep. He was 6 months old when he actually slept the first night in his crib. It was a long six months. And the song? Tim and I wrote a lullaby for Hannah her first day with us. It’s a silly little song. One that doesn’t make much sense but we wrote it – for her. And she’s five now. And she still loves it and sings it along with us. “My name is Hannah and I like bananas…”

    I love your happy moment. It’s a beautiful happy moment that will live with you forever. And the best part of it, is that you KNOW how much your little guy appreciates your love. Your love that shines through that song.

  7. No words, just tears. πŸ™‚
    Tears full of happiness.

    I can relate. I’ve sung Jesus Loves Me to my children at bedtime, so many times, the tune changes on me, and I get all tongue tied in the words. Then my little ones will start humming away, and I find my way again…

  8. Beautiful post. My youngest son is still an exclamation mark kind of boy.

  9. sweet was this? We also have a song to which we’ve made up words, and we used to have to sing in to them every night. Now they’re too old to ask for it (sob) but I know it’s still there if they need it!

  10. So sweet. It certainly does touch a special place in your heart when they ask you to do those things for them in which they find their own happiness πŸ™‚

  11. I love your description of him. He sounds wonderful. There’s a lot of happiness there.

    The song that my son wants before bed? “Soft kitty.” (If you watch Big Bang Theory, you know what I mean.) =)

    • HA! Love that show AND that song! πŸ™‚

  12. That is awesome that you made up a lullaby. How very precious! It is amazing how such simple, wonderful things can bring amazing happiness to us as mothers and to our sweet children. This was a beautiful post and one I can really relate to as music and whispered songs are part of our every day bedtime rituals.

    Here from Five for Ten!

  13. There is no greater joy than your child letting you know you’re doing things right!

  14. I’m probably going to sing “Amazing Grace” for the rest of the afternoon, a favorite of both of my girls. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post and for triggering my desire to sing, albeit off-key. And I love, Love, LOVE “mobile exclamation mark.” So awesome.

  15. Beautiful!

  16. Yep, so much happiness here. I just got my first “sing dog?” request a few weeks ago, and I was overjoyed.

  17. I sang Rainbow Connection for my son, and You are my sunshine for my daughter. Even now, my son still sometimes asks me to sing it, but not to fall asleep. He was over two the last time I sang it to him to help him fall asleep. I miss those days.

  18. I have to say that I am simply stunned by the beauty of the writing in this post. The rhythm of the stanzas…the feeling of sleep and single word exclamations that punctuate. Oh, I am lulled.

    Would you sing me a lullaby?

  19. Absolutely beautiful. You just melted my heart.

  20. With Emily, we would rock and sing and rock and sing for hours. Her song was Luther Vandross’ “A House is Not a Home” a la my husband. When I think of that song, still, it brings a small smile. Thank you for the great reminder.

  21. A “mobile exclamation mark” — so descriptive and bittersweet. I imagine these are the memories that will fill your heart years from now when he breaks your favorite piece of pottery, goes on his first date, drives away by himself for the first time, leaves for his own unique life. Those pivotal moments will always be you, his still-damp hair and still-young cheek, and the song that connects you.

  22. Love this. I don’t sing to my daughter, partially because it would keep her awake, but we read words. We read three books of her choice and she listens like I am offering candy to her. I cherish that moment, hoping to teach her my love of books and words and hope one day she will do the same for her children.

  23. “He is a mobile exclamation mark…” I love that. Says it all.

  24. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sarah, rebecca. rebecca said: This happiness post I so adore. Beautiful. And I can relate. via My Fluffy Bunnies. #fiveforten […]

  25. I sang Just the Way You Look Tonight by Sinatra to my firstborn every night. My husband sang him Billy Joel’s Lullabye. For days and weeks and months and years Jamis asked for those songs. And we sang him.

    But now he’s 7. A few months back I tried to sing to him my song, and he wouldn’t have it. And I walked away sad. But just the other night he asked for it. And I sang it. And he watched my mouth form the words, and tucked hair behind my ear.

    One word: Happiness.
    And someday I hope we dance to that song at his wedding or something. What a circle that would be. Or perhaps I’ll sing it to my grandchildren. Oh, I can’t even imagine that!

  26. Sigh. Those early songs, those memories, they have such a hold on us, no? I blogged about something similar recently, though not as lyrically. I can’t wait for baby news btw!

  27. If you haven’t already, you must record yourself singing it. You must!

  28. This was beautiful – and I love “mobile exclamation point”, too. Takes me back to when E was a baby (he’s almost 15 now). I made up a song for him to the tune of You’re so Vain, and also sang Country Roads to him over and over. Thanks for reviving the memories and sharing the happiness.

  29. You are such a great writer.

    I also made up a song for my son when we were in the hospital. It was a very special moment and I sang the song to him for a long time after. He doesn’t seem to have the same affection for it now, though. He likes “Twinkle Twinkle” a little better.

    And I’m dying to know how you are doing after your Mother’s Day re-mothering. Hmm?

    • Still waiting for a few moments of coherent thought to peek through this sleep-deprived fog before I post about Bun’s arrival … soon, though (I hope!). =>

  30. Oh! Such sweet happiness.
    Fynn loved “bumping up and down in my little red wagon” and Paige is partial to “twinkle twinkle” – funny how they know what they like and how we could sing those songs in our sleep.

  31. This is so, so lovely, Stacia. And your writing is pitch perfect throughout (just like your singing, I’m sure). Any thoughts about what Bun’s song might be? (And about when you’ll get to start singing it?) πŸ™‚

  32. So sweet! I sing “all the pretty horses” & “amazing grace”. Although my son used to do this KICK thing with his legs to stay awake. Some of the songs that I sang are probably NOT ones I hope he ever asks for again. It was hard. To not die of exhaustion.

  33. I love this!!!

    I made up songs for my boys too, about all sorts of things like changing their diapers and taking a bath and waking up. My mom had a lullybye for me, and I changed the words for my boys, but the ONE that worked for them was “return to Pooh Corner”. I think I have sung that song close to 2000 times between the three boys.

    And I still love it…

  34. Stacia, such a lovely post! What is it with kids not wanting to sleep? Yet, when you grow up, it’s all you want!

  35. Oh so beautiful! I know this feeling. Ours is a different lullaby but it sings happiness in my heart too!

  36. What a beautiful post! Your son sounds like such a sweet little boy! A sacred mommy-son thing for the two of you to share – so special!

  37. What a beautiful post, as always you write so poignantly, I just love the way you describe your little boy settling down, tucking his toy in the crook of his arm. I am just sure that when he is grown and has a son of his own he will remember and sing that song to him too.

  38. This is so beautiful. Lucky boy.

  39. I’m late catching up here – and can’t even site having a newborn around! – I love this. So sweet.

  40. Awww….

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