“Mom, will you rub my back?”
I asked that question every night that I can remember. Most nights my mom swept her fingers gently across my back. Then she sang. I don’t remember it ever lasting as long as I would have liked. But that’s because I would have liked for it have lasted for hours.
In my reminiscing, I have a confession. Though I loved the nightly mother-daughter affection and one-on-one time, I never cared much for the songs. My intention is not to be irreverent here or to isolate myself from bedtime traditionalists; but I vividly remember thinking these things during this popular lullaby:
Hush, little baby, don’t say a word
Well, what if I want to say something? Couldn’t I say something?
Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird
A what bird? I don’t know that one. And my dad doesn’t live here.
And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring
Well, then why did you get that bird in the first place?
And if that diamond ring turns brass, Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass
Ugh. I hate this part. Boring, grown-up stuff.
And if that looking glass gets broke, Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat…
Wait! A goat? I don’t want a goat. Can we just not buy these things? Because everything keeps NOT working, and this is stressing me out!
Hello. My name is Jaime, and I’ve been an over-thinker since age three. I still remember some of my preschool thoughts for songs like “Rock-A-Bye Baby” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” but I’ll spare you those…for now.
I couldn’t really tell you why, but as a child I had a lot of fear–specifically, at night. My dreams turned quickly into nightmares, lots of them recurring. To this day, the evil-fanged black wolf from The Neverending Story and Howard from Howard the Duck terrify me! Kidding.
I think I was four or five years old, and sitting in my children’s church class. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to be up with the grown ups and could be with my own friends. And crayons. And games. During one game, my teacher said something that revolutionized my preschool days:
“If you’re scared to go to bed at night, you can talk to Jesus. He loves you very much, and even though you won’t see him with you, he is there with you. And he doesn’t want you to be afraid. All you have to do is say his name, if you don’t know what else to say.”
I tried this out. I chose a song I’d learned in class and sang myself to sleep. It helped. Honestly, it wasn’t until I was older that sleep was more peaceful than tiresome. I’ve just always been an intense dreamer. But that preschool lesson taught me that there’s something more beautiful than the nightmares that I had.
I wanted what was beautiful.
Even though this is a project I never anticipated working on as a songwriter, there’s something deep inside of me that really sees the value of singing true, meaningful songs over young children in their formative years, before they even put their voices to the melodies.
The songs of this lullaby project have all been written for specific children: Elise, Samaira, Isaiah, Jack, Lily, Addie, Chase, Anna, Abby, Madyson, Creedon, Carter, Colin, and Hadley. But truly, the beautiful in these songs is for us all.
This is my sleep story, in a nutshell, and probably the reason I can dig my feet in the ground and say, “Yeah, I want to do this, and I want to do it with excellence.”
I know meaningful, beautiful songs have been written for rocking babies to sleep in your arms, nap hours, quiet time sessions, but the Roots & Wings project is my personal tribute to those times.