I often treat my life like a musical. If you say the right (or wrong, depending on your opinion) group of words in front of me, chances are I’ll burst into song right then and there. My almost two-year-old usually screams, “STOP!!” anytime this phenomenon occurs, but— much to my kids’ chagrin—it’s probably never going to stop.
Some of us like the whole “musical life” thing more than others, I guess.
I’ve always told my husband the beat lives in my blood because if there is a song with a sick beat, I literally can’t stop my body from dancing along to it in some capacity. Apparently, the same goes for songs. It appears that lyrics, also, live in my blood, and have become the source of many memories.
Whenever someone sings I’m in the Lord’s Army, I’ll forever think of that same almost two-year-old marching around the house singing (read: yelling) his own rendition of the song. Since he can’t fully sing the whole thing he sings this adorable jumbled version that goes something like this, “I may never! March that! Shoot that! YES SIR!!” It’s an almost constant chorus, and whenever I think of that song for the rest of my life I will think of him and his little body and tiny voice running and singing at the top of his lungs.
You know the Cups song from Pitch Perfect? That’ll always make me think of that one night at the dinner table when my boys were asking if, when I’m gone, they could play a game with their babysitter. I immediately started singing the Cups song and when I got to the part where she says, “You’re gonna miss me by my walk, you’re gonna miss me by my talk, oh, you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone,” the boys started laughing hysterically and my five-year-old said, “Mom! Why are you singing about TACOS!” (Sing it to yourself, you’ll get it.) It was the first legitimately funny joke he ever made and we all laughed about it for days.
I’ll forever remember how my husband began singing to the boys at bedtime as a way to calm them down, thereby changing bed time from the worst part of the day to one of the best. No matter how much I love being a mom, the truth is I do not shine at bedtime. When my husband took over the bedtime routine, he made it fun and happy with his songs and it wasn’t long before I wanted to join in on the fun again, too. Now we tackle bedtime together and it is one of my favorite times of the day. So I’ll think of how we always tried to sing For Good, from Wicked, in perfect harmony and we failed every time, sending us all into fits of laughter. I’ll think of how my oldest insisted on singing Jingle Bells by himself every single night for months and how he sang it so adorably off key that my heart swelled to a size I didn’t know was possible. And I’ll think of the hard days—the days where everyone whined and I yelled and there were tears and hurt feelings and mom failures—those were the days I’d always spend some extra time in their room singing songs in praise to a God who forgives and makes all things new as a way to reground myself and (hopefully!) speak truth into their miniature, listening hearts.
I always imagined this season of life as one full of making memories. On Valentine’s Day we’d make fresh strawberry milkshakes together. For Christmas, Santa would always bring each boy a bag of balloons and we would spend the following days blowing them all up so we could fill a whole room. Summers were spent at the lake, fishing and splashing around until we’d finally collapse in bed, exhausted from a day full of our favorite activities. I imagined someday my kids would tell their spouses about said memories and their spouses would then think of me as the annoying mother-in-law because I instituted all these traditions they would then have to keep. This was my goal: build a life my kids would want to rebuild with their future families.
And then I went and became a mama to four crazy boys. Now I’m not saying my boys won’t appreciate our memories or our traditions, but—let’s be honest—boys are not nearly as emotional or nostalgic as girls tend to be. I’ll probably only have one son who is a sucker for it (if I’m lucky) and the rest will roll their eyes at my traditions and never even mention them to their future wives.
However, I’ve realized lately how much of our memories together aren’t necessarily traditions, but are more like echoes in our souls: songs that live in us and when people mention a word or phrase, they come naturally bubbling up out of us. I’ve now changed my tune (see what I did there?) a little bit. My new goal is this: that someday, whenever my boys hear certain words or songs, they’ll think of their childhood and they’ll say, “Hey, my mom used to sing that song whenever we said (insert word or phrase here).” Or they will sing the same lullaby to their fussy baby as I sing to them each and every night. I hope my boys always have a song in their hearts, a melody to point them toward home and remind them of the love that is always here waiting for them. These songs will conjure up memories of the sweet life we built together. Because the thing about songs is that they stay with us. They help us to remember specific times, places, people, and feelings.
There is an old hymn I used to sing at church growing up and one of the verses reads:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it's music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
These words keep playing over and over in my mind and heart because it’s true, isn’t it?
Through all the hard and the messy moments, the sibling squabbles and the “Am I even doing this whole thing right?” thoughts, the memories of sweet days and smiles and laughter are the things that carry us through. They become echoes in our souls that beg to be sung and, friends, you know I’ll always be singing.
Guest post written by Bonnie LaRusso. Bonnie is a born and raised Chicagoan who lives in a house full of boys. She married her summer camp sweetheart, Jason, and they are currently raising four boys under the age of five. You can usually find her sweating it out at yoga, chopping veggies in the kitchen, or playing backyard baseball with her crew. Because she's not a coffee drinker, she survives on a steady dose of laughter and Jesus. For more of her daily musings and the cutest little crew of boys, check out her Instagram.