The Longest Shortest Time

Mamas Need Lullabies Too

We all know babies need to be soothed. And we go to crazy lengths to figure out the exact soothing techniques that work for our particular kid. But after all of that soothing, *you* need some serious soothing, too!

When my friend Kirsten, of episode 21, spent a week with me after Sasha was born, she brought a bag full of things to make me feel better. All of the things in that bag were awesome, but the thing that really changed my life was a mix CD that Kirsten and her husband Jamie compiled called Sasha Sleeps.

Sasha_Sleeps_cover_webThe idea behind the mix was, Yeah, you want to play music that will help your kid relax and fall asleep—but you’d better damn well like that music too. Because once your little one finally nods off, and you’re jiggling them, oh, an extra half hour to seal the deal, you are the only one left listening to that music.

I played Sasha Sleeps constantly after Kirsten went back home. Most of the time I’d be pacing around our living room, with Sasha in the front carrier. And I would just bawl. In this way that wasn’t so much about mourning what had gone wrong with our start, but was all about being overcome with love for the tiny snoring bundle attached to my chest. That was exactly the sort of soothing I needed.

I thought some of you mamas out there might need this type of soothing, too. So I made a playlist for you. Strap a baby to your chest and enjoy! (Even if enjoying means crying your eyes out.)

1. Shelter  Ray LaMontagne
2. First Day of My Life  Bright Eyes
3. Maps  Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4. By Your Side  Sade
5. Hold On  Tom Waits
6. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy  The Cannonball Adderley Quintet
7. 5 On a Joyride  Cody Chesnutt
8. My Little Corner of the World  Yo La Tengo
9. Sea of Love  Cat Power
10. Where Did You Sleep Last Night  Nirvana
11. You Are My Sunshine  Cyrus Chestnut
12. When My Baby’s Beside Me  Big Star
13. Talking About My Baby  The Impressions
14. I Want to Hold Your Hand  Al Green

Tracks 1-5 are taken directly from the mix Kirsten and Jamie made me. Kirsten says it was especially important for her to include First Day of My Life because it was on a sleepytime mix she made for her son Jack when he was born. And now, 8 years later, she can watch this video with Jack on her lap, and they both will tear up. Still.

Tracks 6-9 are all songs I listened to a lot while I was pregnant, and they wound up on the playlist that I took with me to the hospital but never really wound up listening to while I was there. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy is the only one I can vividly remember hearing, during the good part of my labor, when I was in the hot tub. Overall, I think these tracks made me feel like the world was a good place to bring a kid into.

Track 10, Nirvana’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night, might seem like an odd choice for a baby mix, but it’s on here because my cousin Jeff used to sing it to get his daughter to sleep, and I love that.

Tracks 11-14 are a little more upbeat than the others, and that’s because they represent the time in my life with Sasha when music transitioned from being something to passively listen to, to something to participate in. It took awhile, but eventually I developed the strength to sing to Sasha. The first song I sang her was You Are My Sunshine, and it is still a bedtime staple. I am a sucker for soulful covers of classics, and Cyrus Chestnut’s version really hits the spot. When My Baby’s Beside Me was on the radio a ton right after Sasha was born because Big Star’s lead singer Alex Chilton died a couple of weeks after her birth. When I hear this song, it brings me back to our air mattress days, and gives me a much needed reminder of how far we’ve come. Talking About My Baby was the first song I played for Sasha where I really felt like she was responding to the music. It was clear that she enjoyed the call and response with the “yeah, yeahs,” and call and response music just keeps getting more fun with her the more responsive she is. Finally, Al Green’s version of I Want to Hold Your Hand. Like I said, soulful covers of classics <sigh>. Before Sasha could really talk—when one of her only words was “again”—this song was in heavy rotation. She loved nailing the high note at the climax of the song. And she still does. Plus, this was the song that got the dance party started at our wedding, outside on a wet patio after a June thunderstorm with hail the size of golf balls. It is a song that makes me feel all-around soothed. And I hope it does that for you, too.

What belongs on *your* Mamas Need Lullabies playlist? Make your own and share it with me (longestshortest on 8tracks), or leave some titles in the comments. I just might feature your picks on the blog. A download of our playlist will be included in tomorrow’s giveaway, a collaboration with A Little Bundle.

Photo: Richard Frank; CD cover design: Ravinder Kingra

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