Since I work in downtown Boston, I leave the house pretty early in the morning to catch the commuter rail. As a result, I miss being a part of the morning routine for my daughter - my wife handles the morning feeding, getting her dressed, etc. and brings her to daycare, conveniently located in the school where my wife teaches one town over.
To make sure I get enough Daddy Time, I catch the earliest train possible home so I can take the bedtime routine - bath, bottle, bed. It gives me about an hour of uninterrupted time to be with my daughter, and gives my wife a much-needed break to relax.
Almost from the day we brought her home from the hospital, that bedtime routine has included songs and lullabies after she finishes her bedtime bottle. FULL DISCLOSURE: My wife is an insanely talented singer and music teacher, and yours truly is a not-so-secret musical theatre geek. So we my daughter's been exposed to pretty wide selection of music.
As she's gotten older, I've added to the catalog of music I sing to her on a given night, everything from "The Rainbow Connection" to "Sparks" by Coldplay. It's funny, tho - no matter how many different songs I sing, I always seem to gravitate to the same three songs:
- "When Somebody Loved Me" from "Toy Story 2"
- "Somewhere That's Green" from "Little Shop of Horrors"
- "Goodnight, My Angel (Lullaby)" by Billy Joel
To recap: A song about a toy left behind (watch this clip and try not to be affected) by an owner who grew up; a song about yearning for a better life that, in the context of the show, is only a dream; and a "lullaby" that acknowledges that, one day, a father will be gone and a daughter will be on her own.
Umm... not exactly the happiest jukebox in the joint. So why do I sing them to my daughter before she goes off to sleep? Probably because - besides being a melancholy, sentimental schmuck - I have started to become more and more aware of how much my life has changed, how quickly my daughter is growing, and how much I want for my daughter.
Anyone who has ever listened to a lullaby of any sort knows they are inherently sad. Any song about longing, regardless of what context, has that sadness in its DNA. That's why they are so relatable; every one of us, regardless of how happy our lives are (and mine is quite happy, indeed), always has a longing for something. It might not be something you want; it may be something you lost... but it's there.
A year ago, I didn't have a baby or a house; now I have both. Six months ago, my daughter had only started to sit up, verbalize and interact with us; now she's standing, cruising, babbling and smiling like crazy. And someday, she will grow up and head out into the world on her own.
It's funny to me to think that even though my daughter is not a year old, I already know I will soon long for times like last night, like tonight when I start to sing to her and she looks at me and I know that, in that one moment, I am her whole world.
Someday, when she is grown up, someone will ask me about her and I will instantly flash to holding her in my arms, singing about "somewhere that's green," and I will get a little choked up.
And I'll smile. Because, to paraphrase Billy Joel, "I'll know, in my heart, I will always be part of her"...