“Headed down south to the land of the pines,
I’m thumbin’ my way into North Caroline.
Starin’ up the road and pray to God I see headlights.”
My voice was hushed, almost a whisper, as I sang this song in the darkness. It was the only song I could think of to sing as my newborn baby boy laid in my arms. My son looked up at me with wide eyes, that I could make out by the light of the moon filtering through the window, soft and gentle as a caress.
This was the third insomniac night in a row, just home from the hospital. I felt afraid to go to bed. Sleep deprivation scrambled my thoughts and plagued me with a strange anxiety. For whatever the reason may have been, the lyrics calmed my nerves, grounding me to this precious, quiet moment.
“I made it down the coast in seventeen hours,
Pickin’ me a bouquet of dogwood flowers
And I’m a-hopin’ for Raleigh, I can see my baby tonight.”
This was the only thing I could focus on. Only this moment. I battled the questions in my hyperactive brain. What am I supposed to do now? How can I care for him for the rest of my life? What if I mess up? What if he never sleeps? As the thoughts jabbed through my head, I took a calming breath and continued with my song.
“So, rock me, mama, like a wagon wheel,
Rock me, mama, any way you feel.
Hey… mama, rock me.
Rock me, mama, like the wind in the rain,
Rock me, mama, like a southbound train.
Hey… mama, rock me.”
Ever so slowly, heavy eyelids drooped over sleepy eyes of my son, and I felt mine following suit. Gently, I laid my baby beside me as I sleepily sang the rest of the song, forgetting half the words. Sleep encompassed the both of us, as I wrapped my arms around the now sleeping boy. The release of slumber was so sweet, tears slid down my cheeks as my brain phased into dreams. Everything was going to be alright. There would be endless days ahead of music to share with my sweet child.