When my oldest son was nine months old we moved into our first house. It was, at the time, the house of my dreams; a small 3-bedroom ski chalet nestled in the woods, on a great piece of property. It even came with a pool that was quite a bit more than a stones throw from the house, but lay adjacent to the woods, surrounded by a natural grassy border. It even had a little stick built pool house with brown cedar siding, and barn red Dutch doors; a miniature twin of the main house. We moved in in July and I could not have been happier. When winter came, so did the big snows that buried us down our little hill, and made getting out of the driveway a new kind of winter sport. My son had a room right down the short narrow bridge overlooking the kitchen, from my room. His room was large with high ceilings and a huge picture window that looked out into the woods. Throughout the seasons, and after the sun had set, I would sit and rock with him in my green, glider chair I’d received at my baby shower. These were the quiet moments that I relished, and it was my time to share with him the beautiful pile of picture books adorning his bookshelf.
My participation in #RhyPiBoMo has reminded me of that little house in the woods, and all the wonderful children’s books whose words past over my lips in the quiet dark on those snowy nights. One of the books that came to mind in particular was a book that when I first read it I absolutely hated it. I couldn’t believe anyone ever agreed to publish it. I had such a visceral reaction to this book it was almost comical. I even went to the Internet to research its history, author, publisher, and date of publication. You could say I was a little obsessed. I just had to figure out what made this book tick, and why I wasn’t getting it. Perhaps it was I. My long commutes back and forth to the city, 12-hour night shifts, and new induction into motherhood might have been altering my perception. And face it, I hadn’t read a children’s book since I was a child. Maybe I was out of practice, or out of touch with what was hip and new, or maybe I was coming at this book all-wrong and needed an attitude adjustment.
After completing my extensive research, I discovered the book was older than me, so hip and new was out, I might have read it as it kid, but didn’t remember, so yes I might have been out of practice. I decided to read the book again. Then I found myself reading it more and more every night. I slowly began to fall in love with this book. It got to the point where I could recite all the words verbatim in the dark, while gently rocking my son off to sleep. Indeed it was an attitude adjustment that I needed. This book was brilliant, beautiful, and simple. Its rhythm matched the gliding of my chair, and the slow drooping of my son’s sleepy eyes and his slowing breath.
That big beautiful room welcomed two more children, and countless more nights gliding my children to sleep with the simple ebb and flow of Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, illustrated by Clement Hurd.
Though I have long moved away from my little chalet in the woods, my tattered copy of Goodnight Moon remains a staple in my house, and a reminder of the beauty of simplicity and grace that we mothers share rocking our babies in the night while saying our goodbye’s to the day.