Babies Don't Keep

Today we have a six week old baby in our house.  Now grant you we’ve had this before, three times before, but today I find myself very aware that this is more than likely the last time we will be in this boat.  With this in mind I want to inhale every bit of babyness that our little one exhales.  All of her sounds, smells, the way she feels in my arms I want to have a permanent memory of it all.  Could I ever keep enough in my cup to last another twenty years or so until the possibility of grandchildren comes?  The truth is I can’t imagine our life without babies.  I know that soon she will be another pair of feet running the racetrack around my kitchen and living room.  I know that soon instead of her calming my frustrations she will be the cause of them.  Does this mean that I love my children less than my babies?  Of course not, it’s just another season of parenthood that’s all.

I came across this poem a couple of days ago and have surprisingly never read it before.   It was first published in 1958 and written by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton.  Yes, apparently women in the fifties had mother guilt too.  Anyway, the next time you feel guilty because you can’t remember the last time you got around to washing the sheets or because PB&J night seems to be a weekly occurrence, remember this poem and let the guilt go because it’s all too true that babies don’t keep.  🙂

Song for a Fifth Child

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown 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 her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for 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.


4 thoughts on “Babies Don't Keep

  1. I was just looking for this poem the other day, I want to hang it in the house somewhere, framed and all. I’m thinking in the living room where the entire house’s chaos can be seen. I need to savor my babies more than ever before….because like you, this one will most likely be the last baby we bring into the world. So sad….and so final. Am I old enough to have something that final decided for me? And then again….I know this is best for everyone – myself especially…..sorry for the randomness. Love you all so much – see you soon.

    • You’re right being done having babies does seem very final, like closing a chapter in your life. All we can do is savor these babies and prepare for the next step in parenthood, raising all these monkies. 🙂

  2. Casey I like the poem, it is very true. It is so crazy to me how it was so hard before to imagine my life with a child and now I can absolutely never imagine it without her. The eye doctor asked me today what it was like being a mother, because he doesn;t have kids. I told him that there are no words that can adequately describe it. Because people can tell you about it, but that is all they are just words. All I know is that when I have those wonderfull moments with her nursing, I can look at her and it feels like my heart could burst. Who knew what it could feel like to have your heart walking around outside of your body. And you are exactly right, they are the best stress relievers. Because at teh end of the day, no matter what has happened they are still there needing you and loving you unconditionally.

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