Friday, March 25, 2011

A Song for My Son

Since James was born, I've considered "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor to be his theme song, and I spent countless hours rocking him to sleep as a baby while singing the chorus:

Goodnight you moonlight ladies
Rockabye sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
Won't you let me go down in my dreams
And rockabye sweet baby James

The song just fits, not only because he shares a name with my dad, a real cowboy, but also because it's a lullaby about winter, and there are so many associations that I make with those bittersweet days around his birth.  I cannot hear or sing the song without tearing up a bit, and it will always be my special song for my first, sweet boy.

Today, James and I were talking about when he was a baby, and we looked at a photo album of his baby pictures.  I also showed him a book of Rhys' pictures, and I told him that he would always be my first baby, even when he is all grown up.  I held him in my arms, and starting singing "Sweet Baby James" as tears welled up in my eyes.

To my great surprise, James also started to cry, and large tears soon fell from his brown eyes.  I stopped singing and comforted him, but it shook me up quite a bit.

Was he crying because he saw tears in my eyes?  Did looking at pictures of Rhys' birth make him think he's not my baby anymore? Did I somehow rob him of his babyhood by having another child so soon?  My heart was heavy with mother guilt.

A little while later, we moved to the bathroom to change Rhys, and I started humming the song again, mostly absentmindedly, but also, if I'm honest, to see how James would react.

Again, there were tears, so I picked him up and sat on the bed with him for a long time.  I asked him if the song made him sad, and he said it did, so we sang some happy songs for a while as Rhys played at our feet.  

At lunch, I again asked about the song, and James told me that it made him sad when I sang it.  I told him that it was his special song and that we could sing it together before bed, and he told me that it was a lullaby.  He then asked me to sing it to him while I cleaned up after lunch, and he listened happily without tears.  I also made sure to spend some extra quality time with him while Rhys napped, just in case he was feeling a bit left out.

I'll never really know what triggered his tears when he heard that song today, and I'm pretty sure James doesn't know why he felt sad, either.  But it was just another reminder that he is growing up and away from me, and maybe he felt that a little bit, too.

Tonight, I sang it again as I rocked him before bed, and he listened quietly to the words.  It will always be our special song and I hope he'll always let me sing it for him.

Rockabye, Sweet Baby James.