It’s about nine o’clock at night. I’m alone, singing, recording a voice memo on my phone, per Zadie’s request. When we spoke twenty minutes ago, she was mid-bedtime prep: changing into pjs, brushing her teeth, checking for her beloved Brownie. I could hear the tired in her voice. It’s been a whirlwind long weekend: a much-needed escape from town, an adventure for her Covid-friend’s eleventh birthday. Sun, snow, tubing, crepes, hot tub, hot chocolate. She’s worn out in a good way, in the best way, in that used-up-every-ounce-of-go, sweet-exhaustion kind of way. The only energy she has left is for reading under the covers with a flashlight before I sing her to sleep. But I am not there.
Every night there’s been a request: first, an audio message so she could hear our voices on the night that we only texted; second, a video chat to see our faces; tonight, a song. “Because I am not used to being away from you guys.” And, truly, she’s not. In the “before times” (I heard that yesterday, and liked it more than “pre-Covid”), our kids were used to nights away, weekends with cousins, camping with friends. They’d pack their bags, head out on adventures, and barely look back. Now, we are rarely apart. Z is in my class this year, too, so we truly are with one another 24/7. Joined at the hip.
So, I sing. My voice is tired, and it cracks a bit on some of the higher notes. I run out of air at the end of a few lines, but I don’t stop. I sing, then I send it out across the ether to my sleepy girl, tucked into her borrowed bed, who still wants a lullaby from her Mama at night.