God help my daughter when we're in the car and the radio station starts playing eighties music. She is not permitted to change the station under penalty of me singing a whole lot louder.
So the other night when she happened upon Pat Benatar as she was tuning the radio dial and I said (okay, screeched) Stop!
And the strains of Ms. Benatar singing "We Belong" filled the air and my car became a time machine. Suddenly, I was hurtling back in time twelve-plus years to when my beautiful girl was an infant in my arms.
I looked over at her as she is now, almost as tall as me, beautiful and graceful and a million other 'ful's that I am so very proud of and I know that she's amazing in spite of the fact that her mother was a mess when she was born.
The truth is, her father and I were going through a very, very difficult time after her birth. Without going into the gory and maudlin details, we had issues - which is why her father eventually started being referred to as "her father" and not "my husband" anymore.
And during those first few months of new motherhood for me, as joyous as it was, I didn't feel like we were a team, he and I. I didn't feel like we were in this together.
I didn't feel like we were a family, at least, not right then.
So during those weeks of maternity leave, and those overnight feedings, and those car rides to the daycare, and all the other cuddle times in between, I sang. I sang to her and I held her and it made my world feel a little warmer. It made my heart feel a little lighter. It let me tell her with more than words, more than my arms, how very much I loved her. And needed her.
And how very much she, by just loving me back, was saving me.
One night, I woke to the sound of her crying into the baby monitor and realized that there was a storm outside, and the rain lashing the window had awakened her. It was close enough to feeding time, so I scooped her up and we went downstairs to relax in the comfortable recliner we bought just for nights like this. I settled a blanket around us and put on one of the music channels available from our cable provider.
There in the darkened living room, with rain beating on the windows and lightening flashing and wind howling, I held this amazing little person and sang softly:
We belong to the light
We belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words we've both fallen under
Whatever we deny or embrace
For worse or for better
We belong, we belong together
And we did, she and I. That night, another crack in my heart healed, and I knew that her love would come to define me in ways that would be life-changing. Eventually, things evened out between her father and I, and we became the family I so longed for us to be, at least for most of her childhood, anyway.
I still remember that night every time I hear that song. And when it played through the radio, I turned to her with a lump in my throat and said "I used to sing this to you when you were a baby. I know you probably don't remember that."
But I do, my heart finished. I do.
And when the song was over, she rolled her eyes, told me me it was her turn and pulled up One Direction on her iPod where she played it as loud as I'd let her.
"You owe me," she said.
Oh, baby girl, I do. So very, very much.