I was rocking in the glider, cuddling the baby.
My son was lounging in the infant bathtub, at my feet.
The tub empty, was on the rug in the nursery where I had placed it to dry the day before.
He was hiding from the late afternoon sun streaming through the windows. He had pulled the baby’s playmat over his head.
He was a fish, swimming in the ocean.
As the baby and I rocked and he played, I felt happiness welling within me.
The past few months were harder than I expected.
I wasn’t prepared for how dark it would be.
How much I would struggle.
I thought—I assumed—it would be an easy transition.
When my son was born, I had no problems adapting to life as a mother.
I loved it.
I was good at taking care of him.
I had found a place that I belonged, unlike any other.
So I expected the period after birth of my second would be equally idyllic.
And it should have been.
She was as wonderful a baby as he was.
Smiley. Peaceful. Engaging.
But our family wasn’t the same.
And neither was I.
My son, at two and a half, faced some challenges in the adjustment process.
His movements were threatening, even though he didn’t intend them to be.
Our family was sick from December through March.
For most of us, the illnesses, while they seemed unending, weren’t serious.
But, with a newborn, every virus is significant.
I took her to the emergency room when she was less than a month old.
And to see a geneticist at Children’s Hospital, when she was a false positive in the newborn metabolic screening process.
I don’t remember the last time I slept through the night. I know it’s been over a year.
I was quick to anger and grumpy, exhausted in a way I didn’t know possible.
Life kept throwing curve balls at me.
And I didn’t have a chance get my stance set. Much less see the ball as it was coming.
I couldn’t keep up.
But after four months, things were settling down.
And the sea of hormones was receding.
Life was letting up, giving me the opportunity to catch my breath.
And this afternoon, I felt different.
It was a strange feeling, like reuniting with a long-lost friend.
Familiar, yet foreign.
I had missed this.
Without thinking, I started to sing to them.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
After a long winter, spring had returned.
You make me happy when skies are grey.
Finally, the clouds parted and the light was shining in my life again.
You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.
For the first time in months, maybe since before I got pregnant, I felt like me.
Please don’t take my sunshine away.
As I finished the verse, my children both looked at me.
Matching smiles reflected on their faces.
He’s fair, she’s dark.
But their smiles are the same.
She started to laugh, the full-bellied laugh of a baby bubbling over.
He couldn’t resist joining her.
The easy, blissful joy of children, enjoying their mama’s song.
I marveled at their resilience.
I had worried that whatever was wrong with me would affect them.
That my darkness would steal their light, their happiness.
Change their character, in some fundamental way.
But it hadn’t.
They were healthy and content and whole.
And, finally, I knew I was going to be too.
I wish I could tell you that every moment has been perfect since that day. But that would be untrue—it hasn’t. There have been times that are still hard. But, en balance, things are better. We are good. All of us. And I am so relieved to finally say that.
You Are My Sunshine is copy written to the Peer International Corporation, 1940. Words and music by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell.