Traditional lullabies didn’t stick when I was learning how to be a mom. Sometimes I sang hymns from church because they were easy to remember, “Love One Another”, being one of them. It had a nice, soothing melody and my daughter seemed to like it well enough.
My parents were really creative and made up their own lullabies for us as children. My father went on a Mormon mission to Italy and learned fluent Italian, and I remember him writing and singing us “Dormi”, the translation of the song is beautiful, and I wish I had it to transcribe right now. It was spiritual in its own right, it spoke of us being children of God, and being protected by him while we sleep.
My mother also created her own lullaby for us in English. They both have beautiful voices, and with so many kids to put to bed at once, their methods worked well.
For my daughter and I, it was one-on-one time up until recently, but she still asks me to sing her favorite lullaby, the only one I’ve really sung to her since she was very small: Baker Baker, by Tori Amos. It’s about lost love and lost chances and pushing people away, but it has a lullaby quality to it. Her music is soothing and melancholic and seems parallel to my sensibilities about life and how words that are healing are often those that are true and sometimes tragic. They prick deep down into your heart and force you to look at yourself and feel things that you may not want to feel. Though my daughter has heard the words hundreds of times, and may not know their full meaning, she knows who is sharing intimate moments with her, singing a melancholic song about the truth of humanity while also soothing her to sleep, cradling her still at 5’10”.