In the past few days I have been thinking about the women in my family, I suppose because I am mourning the passing of my aunty. Then Melissa asked this question on Shakesville (my favourite off-shore feminist blog, as in off-shore from both New Zealand and Australia).
What lullabies did your parents or guardians sing to you, and, if there are children in your life, what do you sing to them?
There's a lovely Irish lullaby that I sing to my daughters, Too-ra-loo-ra. The version that I sing bears a passing resemblance to the official version, but only a passing one. My version is soft and gentle, a quiet repetition of syllables to soothe the girls to sleep. I have sung it to them more-or-less since the day my eldest daughter was born. My mother heard me singing it, and was surprised and delighted. It turns out that the version I sing was the one that she sang to us, and I didn't even know it. As for Mum - she learned it from her mother, who sang her to sleep with it.
A few years ago, we were looking after my then nearly-two year old nephew for the night. As it turned out, my mother was staying too. I got the little lad ready for bed, and then called my girls to come and say goodnight to him. They all trooped in, and then without prompting, started singing the same lovely little lullaby to him.
When we went back into the family room, I found my mother sitting there with tears of delight and happiness in her eyes, that four generations later, her granddaughters were singing her mother's song.