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Last night, I was desperately trying to get my son to go to bed at an appropriate time and he was not having it, so he was crying.  Of course, no one likes the sound of a crying baby; I have to assume that is a genetic thing wired into all of us so that we attend to the little ones.  Well, my guy was screaming as if someone were torturing him, to the point where he was hyperventilating, so I was stressed and pulling out all of the stops to soothe him.  I even resorted to singing lullabies – Lord knows why this kid actually stops crying when I sing, because most people start crying when I sing.  I have to assume that is also genetic.

But last night even my singing would only work for a second or two before the crying resumed and I would have to try again.  I have a limited lullaby repertoire, and I had to do quite a few repeat performances because this whole mess was going on for at least 45 minutes.  First, I tried “Mama’s Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird” (which I think is the name) because I just learned all of the words on a baby-related website – it’s shocking how much my life has changed.  Next, I tried “Amazing Grace” because my friend told me that she sings it to her son at bedtime and I thought that was really sweet.   Not only is my rendition nowhere near the quality of her beautiful take on the song (yes, Carey, I mean you), but I couldn’t remember the second verse so I just made it up.  On some level, it feels like a sin to make up the lyrics to a hymn.  I’m not talking about the same degree of sin as murder or mouthing off to your parents, but a sin nonetheless.

So after a couple of performances of those two songs I was almost tapped out – I told you my repertoire was limited.  Then I remembered the classic:  “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”  It’s soft, it’s pretty, and it’s about the night.  Excellent!  I sang my best possible version and…still no luck, the kid was screaming bloody murder.

After a couple more repeats of the aforementioned songs, I remembered “The Alphabet Song.”  OK, I don’t normally think of that as a lullaby but I was grasping for straws and it couldn’t hurt to throw in a bit of learning, right?  So I started singing it:  A, B, C, D, E …oh forget it, you know how it goes and if you don’t you have issues.  Anyway, sing it in your head right now, I’ll wait.

Now sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

Notice anything?

That’s right – it’s the same tune!  The music for “The Alphabet Song” is the same as the music for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!”

I felt totally and completely gypped.  All of these years I never noticed that those two songs used the same exact tune.  Now some of you are thinking, “Duh.”  And others are thinking, “I had the same experience when I sang those songs to my (child, niece, nephew, friend’s baby) – welcome to the club!”  Still others are thinking, “WHAT?!  I feel gypped too!”  I know.  I am not sure why it irritates me so much, it just does.  Neither of those songs are that long, so how hard is it to come up with a new tune?  For real.

Oh, it gets better.  So now I am annoyed and distracted and I still have a screaming baby.  I finally decided that I needed to take him downstairs after an hour of this because even though I am trying to set up a bedtime routine, Rome wasn’t built in a day and, besides, I need to know which song came first so I can determine who ripped off whom.  I know, I need to step up my parenting game but again, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

So I hand the child over to my husband so I can look up the origins of the songs and, assuming the Wikipedia entry for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is correct (always a good thing to consider), it gets worse:

  • Not only does “The Alphabet Song” share the tune with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, it is also used for “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”  I mean, come on.
  • The original melody was taken from a French song – so we’re back to the French, are we?
  • This is the best:  the French version of the song is about a girl recounting to her mother how she was seduced by man who beat her afterwards.  Now I am speechless.  And if you believe that I’m speechless, I have a bridge to sell you.

I was a little disturbed that a few lullabies could send me off on a rant, so I tried to accept what I cannot change:  that these three songs share one tune.  I suppose this is just another more step on my path to peace and serenity.  After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I recently gave birth to Max, my first child, at 39 years old.  I mean, I was 39 years old, not him.  This is not a Benjamin Button scenario.  It was all good with the pregnancy, even though the first doctor I went to said he would need to order some extra tests due to my “advanced maternal age,”  which is obviously just a euphemism for old.  I fired him, but not for that.

I am truly enjoying Max, although there are times when I am convinced that old ladies like me shouldn’t be having babies.  I have developed an ache in my back that will not go away.  When I have to wake up a few times per night to feed the baby, which is pretty much standard, I feel as hungover as if I had been on a two-day bender except that I don’t have all of the great stories at the end of it.  But more difficult than the physical adjustments are the behavioral changes I have to make, not the least of which is the dreaded schedule

Intellectually, I accept the fact that children should be on a schedule; structure is very important for children and the predictability and consistency of a schedule helps them thrive.  But herein lies the problem:  I myself have not been on a schedule for over 20 years!  Actually, I have been on a schedule, it’s just a different schedule every day.  Does that count? 

Ah, my early 20s.  Life was so simple, so straightforward.  At that point in my life my schedule looked like this:

  6:30a – Wake and shower

  7:30a – Leave for work

  4:00p – Work on lesson plans (I was a teacher at the time)

  6:00p – Drive home

  8:00p – Order pizza

  9:00p – Watch Melrose Place and heckle mercilessly

10:00p – Procrastinate

11:45p – Finish grading papers

12:30a – Go to bed

On a Saturday, it might have been more like this:

  1:00p – Get up

  1:30p – Get bagels

  2:00p – Start watching movies on cable

  5:00p – Take a break from movies to order food

  5:30p – Eat and finish movies

  8:00p – Shower and dress

  9:30p – Meet friends at 8th Street Tavern

10:00p – Play pool

  2:30a – Go home and go to bed

Years later a lot had changed.  In my late 20s and early 30s I was more focused on my career, and that created its own set of schedule-related challenges mostly due to the ways in which I had complicated my life.  I would characterize this stage of my life as one when I felt lucky if I didn’t have to eat a meal in my car.  On any given morning when I worked too long the night before, I would have a hard time getting out of bed and end up being late, leading to me shoving a bagel down my throat while driving a stick shift and checking voice mails on my cell phone.  I know that is a frightening image but scarier is that I was still driving better than 80% of the people on Route 78. 

One day I would be able to jet out of the office at 5:00p (rare) and others I would get stuck at work until they turned the lights off at 10:00p (sad and pathetic).   Some days I would plan my meetings so I could escape the office in time to get home and eat a meal at my dining table – I paid extra for a condo with dining area, after all – and then my boss would call about some fire-drill that would keep us working until 9:00p.  On nights like that I would stop at a diner or something on the way home and just eat by myself, a situation which made my mother very sad although I think it would have been more sad for me to have been starving and not stopped because I was too embarrassed to sit by myself.  Besides, eating alone at restaurants helped me find my favorite pastime – eavesdropping.  I might have to dedicate an entire post to how interesting it can be to glimpse into a moment in someone else’s life and then make up the rest in your head while scarfing down a bacon cheeseburger.

But I digress, as usual (stop snickering).  My question is:  How in the hell am I supposed to get a new baby on a schedule when I have spent 20 years just rolling with it?!?  What I described above is only the tip of the iceberg.  Somehow I have to find a way to reshape the behaviors that took two decades to develop! 

It all comes down to this…I have waited a long time to have a family because that’s just how things unfolded.  Now I am a mother and I want to be a great one and I know that means putting my child first which I am more than happy to do.  I just never realized the simultaneously subtle and gigantic ways in which I would have to change my life to do that.  If you thought it was hard to start a workout routine, imagine how hard it is to change an entire lifestyle of frenetic unpredictability.

Wish me luck…I need it.

About Me

The purpose of this blog is purely self-expression - being creative for the sake of being creative. It has evolved into a collection of non-fiction essays.

All of the anecdotes and incidents you read in this blog are completely true and not exaggerated, no matter how sad, pathetic or unbelievable they may seem.

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