Convinced that I didn't have a good voice, I hadn't sung in over 20 years: not a church hymn, not an office-party "Happy Birthday," not even a ditty in the shower. Not until about two years ago, anyway. That's when the most receptive, appreciative audience of one – a baby boy wrapped in a blanket – came home from the hospital with me.
My pipes were plenty rusty and lyrics weren't exactly on the tip of my tongue, but I made an effort, because mothers are supposed to sing.
I started slowly, humming only melodies at first.
Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head" was stuck in mine with the many choruses of "La la la la la la la la." But my son, Nate, didn't seem to mind. He snuggled closer and dozed off.
Easy enough, I thought.
Later I tried a few lullabies, but I couldn't remember the words, even to classics such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
Funny thing was, I knew every word of "The Brady Bunch" sitcom theme and two Oscar Mayer commercials. Still, it didn't matter to Nate what I sang, just as long as I did. Whenever I began to sing, he would immediately calm down.
I felt silly as hot dog and bologna jingles flowed out of my mouth when my baby and I rocked in the darkness. But it was working for my target audience, so I wasn't about to stop.
Before long I was taking my act on the road – or at least out of the rocking chair. During playtime one day, these words spontaneously poured out of me: "I see a train a comin' – it's rolling round the bend. And I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when." Thank you, Johnny Cash.
While I was making a grocery list one day, Nate observed from his highchair. An impromptu rendition of "Yes! We Have No Bananas" put a smile on both our faces.
The closing song of "The Carol Burnett Show" became my finale every night of Nate's eighth month: "I'm so glad we had this time together, just to have a laugh or sing a song."
At the end, I always had to jostle Nate a bit so I could reach up to tug on my ear the way Ms. Burnett always did. It just didn't feel right to skip that part.
I attend many more birthday parties now that I have a child. Rather than just listening to everyone else sing the mandatory tune, I join right in.
And although I might not be ready to sign up for the church choir just yet, I have noticed our water bill runs a bit higher these days.