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How A Lullaby Saved My Life

  • 6 min read

The Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle, and a crying baby.

Hundreds of times my mother sang ‘La Le Lu’ to me. Hundreds of times I have also sung this song to our baby. This German lullaby conveys the peace with which a child should fall asleep. The lyricism is manageable and since childhood, I’ve known the lyrics by heart. I sang the song especially often during our first vacation as a family last summer.

Our baby was only four months old at that time — supposedly a good time to fly with the baby to Florida or Bali, or to take a vacation in our home country, Germany, to an idyllic lake in the Alps.

With the car packed full, we headed for the Alps, not at 4 am as planned, but at 7 am. A favorite hiking destination of the Germans and a dream destination for people from all over the world, the blue giants, dominated by the Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany, and Neuschwanstein Castle draw in international guests like magic. For us, it was the tenth trip to the Alps, but the first time with a baby on board.

This lullaby is a life-saver

‘La-li-loo (translated from German into English)

Only the man in the moon watches

If the little babies are sleeping

Thus, sleep you, too.’

Even on the outward journey, the song helped me, stuck, as I was, in the back seat of our family van when our little one started to whine. Even in the pouring rain, I sang the song to him as I breastfed him in a field so we didn’t have to stop at a rest stop at the height of the pandemic.

Towards evening, we arrived, totally exhausted, in Füssen at the Hopfensee, also known as the German Riviera. The glow immediately drew us back under its spell. The blue lake and the mountains with Neuschwanstein Castle were bathed in a pink light.

I sing it as a duet with my husband

From that day on, almost every day of our stay, we circled this lake with the stroller. And every day, not only I, but also my husband sang this song (well, he’s a ‘feminist dad’).

I remember only too well how he said when I was pregnant: ‘Just to let you know, I won’t sing. I can’t sing.’ Immediately on the first day, when our baby started to cry on the changing table and we didn’t know what else to do, we began to sing. And so we did the same, every day on our holiday, when our little one, who at that time still took a nap about every two to three hours, woke up and whined.

Panorama tour around the idyllic lake

Kristina God; Baby photo created by freepic.diller

The panorama tour around the lake is 8 km long and offers an almost unrivaled view of the Alps and Neuschwanstein Castle. Moreover, the lake is one of the warmest in the Alps. That walk, in the wind and fresh weather, was, for us dead-tired parents, the highlight of the day. Along the reeds with a wonderful view, the scent of fresh mountain air in the nose.

Sometimes we fled from the rain into a shelter. Sometimes we fled from the sun onto a bench in the forest. Sometimes we climbed over a fence and sat down at a small wooden fisherman’s hut beside the lake and enjoyed the silence. Sometimes we saw rainbows over the crystal clear and refreshing water. Sometimes big thick clouds rushed towards us.

Once, a strong wind blew up and we had real waves on the lake. The water turned brown from the churning and the kiters came out of their campers and surfed on the waves.

The song worked and burned all the sweet memories deep into our hearts

Our baby was always with us. Either in our arms and looking around, or in the stroller. Again and again, we took breaks from breastfeeding every one to two hours. We sat down on a bench or sheltered behind a tree. Cyclists, hikers, and families with children passed us. Joggers and surfers and boaters passed us. In between them, us, singing in the forest or on the meadow.

Joggers who circled the lake twice smiled when they heard ‘La Le Lu’ again. The song worked. Especially, when my husband and I sang it together as a duet. And it burned deep into our hearts.

I reminisce the good times when singing along

Just last night, I sang ‘La Le Lu’ to my little one again and he fell asleep snuggled up on the bed with me. But there’s more. When I sing it, it always brings back memories of those happy days on vacation.

Of lush meadows. Of happy cows and us circling the lake with the stroller — totally exhausted from the sleepless nights, but still happy because we could enjoy nature and the Alps in peace, while our little one snoozed comfortably.

© Kristina God

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