The Music Man

If you know Martin, you know that he doesn’t sing. 

During our early days of courtship, I thought he was just being coy when he said he was the absolute worst singer in the world. Yet it only took about 10 seconds into a serenading attempt to realize he was being completely honest.

After that attempt, I only heard him sing once more in public. It was at our wedding reception, when European beverages were flowing, people were lighthearted, and it was funny to make Martin get up and sing in public.

And he was game for it. We have photos of our guests playfully plugging their ears.

But after that?

Never again.

Make no mistake: there is music in our house. We play music all the time. The kids and I sing at the top of our lungs. Miss C is learning how to play the cello now, and I still occasionally pull out the guitar and keyboard, and play the songs I remember from my youth.

And it’s not like I haven’t tried to get Martin to sing along with us. I don’t mind his baritone.

But for Martin to open his mouth and contribute to the lyrics being sung in the car? Rarely. Volunteering to go up on karaoke night? Not a chance. When it comes to singing at birthday parties, I think he’s mouthing the words.

Humming a tune? That’s the most of it.

Or so I thought.

The other night, we actually went to bed at the same time and talked to each other as we drifted off to sleep. Usually, in those cases, I’m the one who passes out first, which means Martin stays awake to hear me chatter some random observations as I float between lucidness and dreamland. But on this evening, Martin crashed first.

I could feel him twitch as he drifted off. Soon, his breathing was slow and even.

And then…

He started singing.

A real tune.

Just four plucky little notes, a late-night solfège.

I paused, waiting for him to go on.

“Martin?” I finally asked, touching his shoulder. “Are you singing to me?”


“Martin. You were singing.”

“I was putting the baby to sleep.”

“The what?”

“The …” he paused.

In the darkness, I could sense he was now fully awake. He rose up from the pillow a little as if to orientate himself. “The baby. I was putting the baby to sleep.”

“Were you dreaming that you were putting the baby to sleep? Because the baby went to bed a few hours ago.”

Martin started to laugh.

“Ha! Not only do I take care of the kids when I’m awake. I guess I really do it in my sleep, too.”

“And you sing to them?” I asked.

“Shut up.”

“You sing to the kids?”

“I’m going back to sleep now.”

“What do you sing to them?”

“Good night!”

He flopped over to his other side as I laughed. And I waited for more music as he drifted back to sleep again.

But alas, no more songs for me.

The next day, Martin swore he couldn’t remember this little exchange, but he admitted that yes, he sings to Jaz when he puts him to bed. He did it with the girls, too.

I know I’ll never get a dreamy serenade by my guy, but the idea of a father who sings to his babies, even if he can’t carry a tune in a bucket?

That just makes my heart sing.