We used to sing a certain song at the closing campfire, on the last night, of the two week session, at the YMCA sleep away camp that I spent many summers at in Fremont, MI during my childhood. The place is called Camp Echo and the song is called “Linger.”
I want to linger here,
a little longer here,
a little longer here with you.
It’s such a perfect night.
It doesn’t seem quite right,
That it should be my last with you.
And come September dear,
We’ll all remember here,
The perfect times I had with you.
And as the years go by,
I’ll think of you and sigh,
It’s not goodbye, it’s just goodnight!
|Sean reading to Abby before bedtime a few months back.|
Last night Sean and Abby were having trouble falling asleep. It might have had something to do with the chocolate ice cream they had for dessert after dinner or the family dance party we had in the kitchen right before bedtime. I should clarify that Sean, Abby and I did the dancing and Bob enjoyed the show. Though those of you who know Bob likely knew that was the case and/or had a good chuckle imagining him rockin’ out with his wife and kids.
So getting back to bedtime… Rather than leaving them to find there own ways to sooth themselves to sleep, I decided to go upstairs and sing to them for a bit to try to help them wind down. I always sing them at least one lullaby before bedtime, which is usually “Tell Me Why” (which my mother often sang to me before bedtime as a child). Though these days I rarely sing much more than that, as usually they are tired and Bob and I are ready after long days at work and home to have some down time ourselves.
However, last night I felt like the three of us could all use an extended lullaby session. Being a Saturday night, I flashed back to the many Saturday evenings during my teenage years that I spent babysitting for two young girls who lived around the block from our family. They were 5 and 7 years younger than me and in many ways became the little sisters that I never had. We even sort of looked a like, so if I took them to the park or other places around town while watching them, we were often asked if we were all related. We would usually clarify that only two of us were, but sometimes enjoyed pretending.
I was the girls’ regular babysitter and their parents would often have a weekly date night when I was available to sit. Back then I had no clue about people like Dr. Weissbluth and his “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” theories (which as many of you know has been my parenting “sleep Bible” since Sean was born). So my approach to helping the girls fall asleep on Saturday nights was to sing to them. But I wouldn’t just sing them one or two lullabies and then leave the room. I would typically sing to them for at least a 1/2 hour or more!
We had some old standbys that I always sang. But then I would usually add whatever songs I was learning in school in music class or for special events, such as 8th grade graduation. Their dad was a talented piano player and often I would barrow some of his piano music books (especially the Broadway musicals) and bring them up to the girls’ bedroom. I would belt out my favorite ballads like “On My Own” from Les Mis and “Memory” from Cats.
Those of you who have heard me sing before, know that though I don’t have a bad singing voice, it isn’t exactly high on the list of gifts I was blessed with in life. So my weekly performances, I mean lullabies, for the girls was my time to feel good and confident about my voice. I could imagine I was a soloist on Broadway and the girls made me feel like I had the most beautiful voice in the world! The older of the two sisters recently shared with me that my being with and singing to her and her younger sister, are some of her best childhood memories.
In addition to whatever I was learning at school and show tunes, there were a few other categories I pulled from when singing the girls to sleep on Saturday nights. One was songs I knew from church. But since I am Catholic and the girls are Jewish, I tried not to do too many about Jesus, as I didn’t want it to seem like I was evangelizing. Another category was Irish songs that my dad had sung to me regularly as a child at bedtime, such as “Tu-ra-lu-ra-lu-ra” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” The last category was songs that I had learned at Camp Echo, including “Linger.”
It was emotional for me to realize as I sang that it won’t be long until my kids won’t be sharing a room any more. As much as we are all excited about that, for many reasons, as we prepare to move into our new and bigger house soon, it is also bittersweet to think about them not sharing this space that they have been together in at night for almost two years now and most of Abby’s life.
As I sang some of the more sentimental songs on my list of oldies, but goodies, I got choked up a few times remembering so much about our life in this house and all the special memories we have made as a family in their bedroom. I reflected on the years that I spent nursing each of them, in the same glider rocker that I sat in for some of the time that I sang to them (after I moved from the floor in between Sean’s bed and Abby’s crib because my back was hurting a bit) last night. I thought about all the stories we have read, the prayers we have said and the many hugs and kisses before bedtime that we have exchanged.
As I found myself singing “Linger,” and recalling how sad I would get on that last night of camp, when I had to think about leaving my friends who I had really bonded with there and the camp counselors who we so admired, I made the connection between my feelings back then and those I have now about moving.
Back then I was always torn, because though I didn’t want to leave everyone and everything I loved about camp, I missed my family back home and after two weeks away, I was ready to go back and see them. Now, though I am so excited to be moving to my dream home with my dream family, I am struggling a bit as I prepare to say goodbye to our first house, the only place all three of our children have ever lived. It’s a place that holds some of the best and worst memories of my entire life.
I am really looking forward to starting this new chapter in my life with my family later this month when we move into our new home, a place that I know we can and will be able to make many new and wonderful memories in together. But for now, as the songs goes, “I want to linger here…”