A million love songs

Love songs are funny things aren’t they? I used to hate them when I was young. They used to make my skin crawl with embarrassment. I’d have to switch radio stations quickly or skip the songs on the CD when it came to ‘those’ songs.

That changed though. Ironically, not when I met my husband. I love him very much but still cringe in the same way that I used to when I was younger. He will mess around and lip synch to the lyrics of romantic songs to me – and I will involuntarily screw up my face, hoping that my expression is so off putting that he will stop. He knows me too well though. He knows that I’m embarrassed and that’s part of the fun. So, I look away until he’s done.

The minute that love songs started making sense to me was when my beautiful children were born. Now I know that this sounds weird but bear with me on this. I think I was pregnant with my eldest when I heard these lyrics,

‘Oh I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do
My gift is my song
And this one’s for you. And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.’

I was on my own, probably feeling a little bit hormonal – and I heard this song, ‘Your song’, by Elton John. He wrote it, I imagine, for a person that he loved at the time. But I related to it on a different level. Those words were like a promise, a message to my unborn baby, that my world was so wonderful now that they were in my world. I too felt that what I had to offer was not that much, but I hoped that the love in my heart would do.

Even now, my girls help me far more than I help them. I hug them and draw strength from them. Sometimes I find it incredible that these girls, growing so quickly, once were growing quietly, inside me. Once so helpless, so dependent, now fully functioning, decision making, sensitive, independent forces of nature. A few nights ago, I was tucking my eldest into bed. Now, I have to be incredibly careful what I say in her presence. She is so perceptive and I can often see her trying to analyse my face to gauge my mood. If she senses that I’m upset, she’s relentless. She won’t stop questioning in her quiet, caring, unnervingly adult like way until I divulge what’s bothering me. As I tucked her into bed, she saw her chance. She knew I hadn’t been feeling my best but wanted to make sure that I was ok before she went to sleep. In that moment, I felt that our roles had been reversed and came away feeling oddly in awe of my little daughter.

My youngest daughter, who has grown in confidence over the past couple of years, has been feeling a bit teary over the past couple of nights. She is tired and goes to bed willingly, but then a few minutes later, is sobbing because she doesn’t want to be on her own.

I get that. I used to hate the dark when I was little. So incredibly frightened – my own imagination torturing me with sounds and shadows that played on my mind. Unfortunately, both of my girls have inherited this imagination and this fear. My youngest came down earlier, weeping hysterically, unable to speak because she was scared. I held her close to me, to calm both herself and myself down. It’s so distressing hearing a child cry in that way. Once her tears had subsided and her breathing had got back to normal, I said, you know there is a song that reminds me of you? She loves stuff like this, so she curiously asked, which one?

In a tuneless, croaky voice that only your own child could love, I began,

‘Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And everything you do
Yeah they were all yellow.’

Her face was a picture. ‘You don’t need to be scared,’ I began. ‘Because the stars shine for you!’ The only way that I can describe the expression on her face, is comparing to the sunshine breaking through the clouds and you feel the heat of the rays warming up your icy skin. Her face lit up. The thought of the stars shining for her, was the best feeling ever. And then she added to it. ‘They’re wishing stars too aren’t they? They make wishes for you? They look after you?’

Every word that she spoke, gave her hope that the stars were hers and hers alone. To look after her, make sure that she was safe and grant her wishes.

Before she skipped off to bed happily, she divulged to me that before we heard her crying last night, my eldest had heard her and had been trying to comfort her. I said, ‘That’s because we all love you so much. We all want to look after you.’ This thought comforted her so much, she just held onto me peacefully and sighed in the way that she used to when she was a small baby. Honestly, I didn’t want to let go.

Just like books, it’s amazing how songs can touch your soul. How one song can evoke so many memories and mean so many different things to people. I can’t listen to ‘Your song’ without crying anymore and there are so many others…but I’m so glad that these songs were written. Otherwise how else could I have known how to express this form of love to my dearest girls?

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