Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What it Means to Really Sing

A mobile home trailer complete with crushed limestone parking lot may not sound like your conventional doctor's office. But there I was, waiting in a deep-in-the-country satellite office where the close proximity to an actual doctor (or nurse practitioner in this case) was well worth the non-plush surroundings.

A 35 minute drive cut to five? Definitely worth seeking medical attention in a building where the thunderous shaking of the floor wasn't an indication of seismic activity in the area but rather an announcement of the next patient's arrival.

We waited in an 8 x 8 room, much smaller than one of the cages we saw at the zoo a few weeks ago. Yet even without the extra space to run, the twins did everything but cartwheels while "sitting" in the two blue plastic chairs that flanked the tall exam table where my oldest perched, his every move irritatingly crinkling the thin paper beneath him.

Me, the actual patient--I stood.

One minute, Wyatt was peppering me with the repeated "what's this?" as he pointed to the room's single poster depicting a heart and arteries at various stages of being clogged by blue and orange spheres of cholesterol. The next, Amelia was belting out "Jesus Loves Me" with soul to challenge any singer on American Idol.

Despite my best efforts to teach her otherwise, she has one volume--her "outside voice," as we call it. And in that echoing cave of an exam room, I looked at the two inch crack separating the door from the floor beneath it and just knew how far her voice was carrying.

But since I didn't say "stop" or "be quiet," singing was instantly deemed an acceptable activity, and the other two children joined in their voices. When one song ended, another started.

Until the doctor finally took the hint and came through the door, the entire office was regaled with everything from "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

I thought about being embarrassed, but quickly decided against it and just let them go. To them, singing is as much a part of life as breathing--it just is.

We sing while we four sit and swing, while we walk across the field to Opa's, while we drive down the road. Even a seven minute drive to church need be filled with music. And when there is none, at least one child always speaks up to request certain songs from our praise CD.

"I want 'Light of the World' song, mommy." Other child responds, "No. 'None Like You.'"

Once the music starts, if I don't jump right in, one always prompts me: "Sing, mommy! Sing!"

Not feeling like it isn't an option. And so we sing together.

I remember when I sang like them, with abandon and without any hint of self consciousness. It was junior high before I realized people could hear me singing when I had head phones on. If nobody else could hear the music, then they couldn't hear my singing, either...right? Oh, my poor parents who put up with with me in the backseat on road trips from Louisiana to my grandparents' in Michigan.

By college, I had the head phones thing figured out, but I still didn't know people could hear me when I sang on my front porch...until a neighbor jogged past our house and commented. My poor neighbors...and poor parents again, sitting an insulated wall away from a pitchy nineteen-year-old girl who loved to sing with her everything when she thought no one was listening.

I know some kid will poke fun at my children's singing ability all to soon, tell them they're not as good as someone else. Someone will throttle those three songbirds just as a music minister's thoughtless comment did to me as a tween, making them sing in whispers and with hesitation.

Could I stop time to keep that day from coming, I probably would.

But until then, I will keep singing loudly and passionately with them, keep showing them a mommy who "sings for Jesus" in church...

...hoping that when that one day comes, they'll realize the song of praise in their hearts just bursting to come forth is worth singing with their everything, no matter what others think.


  1. I am hard headed and will bow my crazy singing to no man! It's always a joyful noise. I did hone the blunt instrument a bit so I could sing a solo occasionally in worship. We have all heard the naysayers but I find when you consider the souce often the comment loses actual value.