Since my daughter M was born, I have sung lullabies to her almost nightly. I don’t sing them well or on key, but she has never seemed to mind. I have always sung the same three songs: Hush Little Baby, Lavender Blue, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. M tends to prefer “Hush Little Baby,” so I sometimes get stuck on an infinite loop of it while trying to get her to finally sleep. While my tired voice is on autopilot, I find myself pondering over the lyrics:
“Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.” Well, that could be cool.
“Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.” Right on. Who wouldn’t want a diamond?
“Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.” Okay… decorative mirrors can make great gifts.
“Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat.” Not sure that would make me stop crying. Whatever.
“Mama’s gonna buy you a cart and bull.” No… thanks.
“Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.” That’s better.
“Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and cart.” Are we on a farm??
So… a few of the lyrics reflect the age of the song and/or the original author’s lack of creativity when it came to finding rhyming words. The overall message of the song is still endearing. At least I’m not singing about a baby falling out of a tree, right?
Many times my wandering thoughts stop with that mockingbird and what it stands for. No, I’m not about to go down a Harper Lee rabbit hole; we’ll save that for another day.
What does come to my mind is Zooey Deschanel’s role in Failure to Launch. Throughout the movie, her character battles a literal mockingbird outside her window that keeps mimicking annoying sounds like dog barks and car horns at the most inopportune times. And this brings me to my realization:
KIDS ARE HUMAN MOCKINGBIRDS.
We all know we have to be careful what we say around kids because they will repeat it. And they won’t just repeat it right after they hear it. Mommy drops her phone on her toe and says a 4-letter word the two year old hasn’t heard before. The two year old walks away and quietly adds it to her long-term vocabulary bank without saying a thing; making Mommy think she’s safe. Until Friday night dinner with the in-laws. We’ve all been there.
There are things I didn’t realize I said or did until my daughter repeated them back to me. In the 3.5 years she has been alive, I have come to terms that I maybe yell at our dogs too much and get a little too annoyed at drive-thru windows. I have also learned by watching her interact with her dolls that I can be very loving. Our breastfeeding relationship has made a possitive impact and I make sweet comments when she’s hurting or scared. I know this because she nurses her dolls and she comforts them with sweet smiles and tender touches.
My 1 year old son, L, has shown me that he is ALWAYS watching. He knows how to put the k-cup in the Keurig as he’s been on my hip many mornings that came way too soon. He knows which buttons to press on the dishwasher and he is quick to point a disapproving finger at his sister when she gets too sassy. His little hands cover his face when he’s frustrated and he will always pat your back when you seem frustrated.
Knowing that my little mockingbirds are watching have helped me be a better mom. I know that the fact that sometimes I lose my cool and I cry and I mutter “I can’t do this” under by breath is normal and all a part of being a parent. I know that it’s okay to not be the best role model %100 of the time. I also know that when we are visiting my in-laws and their parrot decides on the rare occasion to sound off a smoke detector noise that he once heard, I always wish that he had never heard it.
Luckily, my little mockingbirds see and mimic more good than bad. On my best days, I shape my mind to model the type of person I want them to be: kind, giving, patient and forgiving. That means I have become the best version of myself that I have ever been and I am so thankful to them for inspiring that in me.
I find myself smiling and talking to strangers more than I ever would flying solo. I find myself trying harder to not roll my eyes when my husband innocently gets on my nerves (notice I used the word try; God’s always molding me as His work in progress.) They act how I act and I want them to be more than just decent human beings. I want them to be the hands and feet of Jesus, right? That means I have to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And I always knew that. But having the future adult behaviors of these tiny human see-and-says on the line gives me accountability.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully believe that who we are is a combination of nature AND nurture. Somehow M has decided to be a cat-loving person who likes to eat mushrooms and her father and I did not contribute to that. However, whatever percentage of nurturing plays into their personalities, whether it be 1% or 99%; that’s ALL on us.
I’m not a perfect parent and I never will be. I’m just a mockingbird mama trying her best to fill those little wings with goodness for the day they fly from the nest.
God bless! 🙂