Joshua Z Weinstein
New York Times
As a baby I was a finicky sleeper. I would wake up several times a night, howling for someone to comfort me. My mother would come pick me up, give me what she called the “Joshy shake,” and lull me back to sleep, as so many mothers do, with a lullaby.
For all her patience, there was a night it nearly ran out. After an hour of singing and rocking, every time she put me down I would cry again. As daylight neared, all my mother could think about was having to get back up for work. She got so angry, she tells me, that she wanted to hit me. But she put me down instead, letting me cry it out.
Lullabies may help quiet babies, but they can soothe their sometimes equally distraught mothers as well. Raising a child isn’t easy, and the subjects of this Op-Doc video, the mothers living in the Siena House shelter in the Bronx, face a particularly difficult set of obstacles. With little or no family support, or income of their own, they are attempting the selfless task of parenthood often completely alone, and in extreme circumstances. I am honored to help them share their stories and love for their babies in their own words, through the universal theme of the lullaby.
When my mother told me about the night her lullabies nearly failed us both, I was shocked, but she assured me that other mothers understood. And the story gave me new compassion and gratitude for my mother and everything she did for me. I wish I’d slept more soundly for her.
See the article and video on the New York Times
Read Rivka Galchen's article for the Times Magazine The Melancholy Mystery of Lullabies