Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Babies Don't Keep


Song for a Fifth Child

Mother, O' Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth.
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek - peekaboo.

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew,
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo.
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

~ Ruth Hulbert Hamilton



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Related Reading on the Babywearing Resources Page



Babywearing info cards available upon request. These small cards are excellent to encourage babywearing parents you see, to get them to a location for additional baby-friendly materials, or for giving to nay-sayers who critique your babywearing days. Printing cost (suggested donation, includes shipping): $3 for 25; $6 for 50; $10 for 100.


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18 comments:

  1. I remember seeing this on the bulletin board of the hospital when my daughter was born. That was almost seven years ago. I still love it. And yes, "But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow." Too true.

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  2. I wrote a post and linked to this poem just yesterday. The more mobile and busy my little guy gets, the more I'm cherishing the quiet times with him!

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  3. Thank you! The last section was on a framed embroidered wall hanging in my dearly loved grandmother's house. She passed away years ago and I often thought of that saying while rocking *my* babies to sleep these past three years. I never knew the author or that there was more to it...thank you for posting this!

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  4. This may be my favorite poem ever. I'm not even sure I've ever read the entire thing.

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  5. I agree this is my favorite poem of all time! I just love love it!

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  6. I love this poem. It is so true. Thank you for Sharing.

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  7. Wow - my mom had a needlepoint with the last two lines of the poem in our house, and I had forgotten about it! Reading it now as an adult and parent it sends (happy) shivers down my spine :)

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  8. Carmel O'Brien/TaulbeeAugust 26, 2011 9:21 PM

    Every Mom and Dad should read this poem. It is so very true. Now that I am a Grandma, I plan to spoil my little ones with tons and tons of hugs, kisses and fun times. I am Blessed!!!!!!!!

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  9. its funny that you posted this now..when i came home from the hospital with my newborn 7 weeks ago all i have been doing is cleaning and organising and doing everything to have the perfect home and be a perfect wife and mother (i also have a 2 and 4 yr old)..last week i looked at my pixie (the newborn) and all of a sudden she was huge!! i felt like i missed her being new :( im pretty sure it happened somewhere being mopping the floor and doing the washing..i almost cryed..the poem is amazing :) thank you

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  10. This is just gorgeous. As a mom with 3 babies who never slept well - I neglected many a chore because of this heartfelt truth, that they would grow. So so true and written so well. Thank you.

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  11. My mom had the last paragraph of this on her fridge while was growing up, and now it's one of my favorite sayings too (and you can definitely tell by my house -- and by my kids). Mom's been gone for 2 1/2 years now, but her outlook lives on.

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  12. The title of this is "Song For A Fifth Child" I have always loved this poem :)

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  13. As true as these words are, and as vital as the concept is to parenting, rocking babies at the expense of cleaning cobwebs and dust bunnies is HARD! Social pressure and "medical wisdom" push us to ignore that our babies don't keep and to parent for our own concenience. Dust and cobwebs can wait. Babies, and the adults they will become, won't.

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  14. My four wore their cousins' 'hand me downs' and we lived cheaply because I chose to stay at home with them. My house was only ever clean when visitors came! I regret many things but not this. I knew deep down that it was a precious time and would not come around again. I see my daughter doing the same with her baby and it feels lovely!

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  15. AS an aged mother, tdhe time spent with a child is so precious when one has to cut tha apron strings and see them on their way through out their lives and remember each day how precious it was. Meqoo1@windstream.net.

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  16. I had the cross-stitch pattern for this at one time

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  17. Lovely. Thank you for posting. I always include this poem in cards for new/expectant moms. And it makes me feel better about the floors around here ;-0

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