Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Sometimes the May Queen wakes up crying. She has growing pains in her legs, just like I did, and my mother before me. I remember my mom coming into my bedroom and rubbing my legs until I fell back asleep, and now I do the same thing for The May Queen. I never resent this time with her, because I know that, unlike when she gets up 5 minutes after I've laid her down and she's saying she needs some cough medicine or something else, that she really needs me. I like that I can bring her comfort. Her crying is hard and frustrated. She heaves in great gulps of air between her wails. She pulls her long legs up to her chest. So I rub and I shush and I sing. I sing her the lullaby that I sang to her every night when she was a baby. The lullaby that I went online to learn all the words to so I didn't have to hum through half the verses. The lullaby that she doesn't want me to sing to her any other time. The lullaby that once, when she was about a year and half old and we were on an airplane and she was so tired and crabby and fighting sleep as she looked out the window, she finally looked at me with heavy eyelids, wrapped her arms around my neck and asked as she snuggled into my cheek "lullaby?" I held her and rocked and sang:

Lullaby and good night, with roses bedight
with lilies bedecked is baby's wee bed
Lay thee down now and rest, may they slumber be blessed
Lay thee down now and rest, may they slumber be blessed

Lullaby, and good night, thy mother's delight
Bright angels around thy cradle shall stand
They shall guard thee from harm, thou shalt wake in my arms
They shall guard thee from harm, thou shalt wake in my arms

When she finally falls asleep I watch her face, now relaxed but still streaked with tears. I watch her belly rise and fall with her breath, now controlled. I pull the covers back over her legs, now still. I kiss her cheek, still wet, and sneak out of the room with one last longing glance at her form under the blanket, once so tiny, and now so big.


niobe said...

I once read someone's list of the most beautiful-sounding words in the English language. "Lullaby" was one of them. Along with "gossamer" and "gonorrhea."

Oh, The Joys said...

That's lovely. So big - and yet still needing you so much sometimes. Nice.

bubandpie said...

"Lay thee down"!!! No wonder you're asking about lie down vs. lay down. (I answered you on my blog: lie down is intransitive while lay down takes an object - i.e. lay down a book, or in this case, lay yourself down.)

Aliki2006 said...

So beautiful! You know, I used to get terrible growing pains in my legs, too. Except I remember my dad coming in and helping me get settled again...

Magpie said...

Lovely. And I never knew all of that lullaby before.

Anonymous said...

Huh. I wonder where I found a translation that was a bit morbid.

Anyway...I had a hard time carrying again after we'd had Fiona, but we were still trying when a friend was giving away some baby items, including a mobile. I called her right away: what song does it play? Brahm's Lullaby! I'll take it.

Have you tried a bar of (any kind) soap under the sheets? It's supposed to work for adults with painful leg cramps.

painted maypole said...

a bar of soap? I've never heard of that, but I'm willing to give it a try. But does that mean I won't get to sing Lullaby in the middle of the night anymore? Well, if it's better for her, I guess it's worth a try. ;)

Beck said...

Poor little girl. I had awful growing pains, too, and they were no fun.

jen said...

oh, i know.

i know. you good mama, you.

Joy, of course said...

Oh I did this too, went online to find all the words to "Goodnight my someone" so I didn't have to make it up when I sang it to her at night. You are such a good sweet mama to your maypole.

painted maypole said...

Goodnight my Someone! That brings back memories of my high school production of Music Man! I sing all sorts of show tunes to The May Queen, my favorite being A Bushel and a Peck (which Rosemary Wells has illustrated a lovely book to, and Dane Zane has on one of his CDs!)

ewe are here said...

Aaah. I know the tune well, I've been making up my own words, though, since I didn't know the real ones. These are lovely, though.

And it's so hard when they hurt, no? I wonder if perhaps these have been what's waking up my 2 year old lately... like just a little while ago.

Bon said...

i never knew the words to Brahms' truth, i wasn't ever sure there were words. which i now realize was kinda dumb. i've always sung the first line as "lullaby and good night" and then just hummed from there...what, did i think the author just ran out of sentiments? had i examined this it might have occurred to me that likely there were actually other words...

i thank you for pointing out my genius. :) and giving me words.

nomotherearth said...

I used to sing the Boy a song from Wicked, "Defying Gravity". May seem like a bit of weird song to sing, but it always came to mind because of the first paragraph:

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!

The song calmed me down too. Good times,

slouching mom said...

I used to get fierce, awful leg cramps.

As for lullabies, favorites around this house were/are Joni Mitchell's Circle Game and If That Mockingbird Don't Sing.

painted maypole said...

SM - I also looked up all the words to If That Mockingbird Don't Sing, but I don't remember them anymore. I get all tongue tied after about 3 verses, and can't remember if we're going to buy a mirror or a goat or what.

nomo - Defying Gravity is good. I sang lots of songs from Chess, particularly Anthem.

I also often sing Borning Cry, but I can't do it without crying myself.

thirtysomething said...

Oh, I adore that song. I used to sit and sing it to my first-born as he drifted off after those midnight nursings. I miss that.

I also remember those leg-grabbing growing pains a sa child,a dn my mother also came in and rubbed my legs until I fell back into a restful sleep.

Such a good mom, and she will remember it and thank you someday.