Sunday, August 28, 2011

 Yesterday, I was speaking with some of the wonderful women I know that are one generation ahead of me, with kids grown and gone.  I was lamenting the age-old struggle of kids vs. clean house, and one of them quoted this:

Babies Don’t Keep (a.k.a "song for a fifth child")
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
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,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye 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?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye 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. 
I'm sitting here getting all teary about this poem and Charlotte comes up to me and has this conversation:
"Mommy, why are you sad?"
"I'm not sad." 
"Well, then why are you dripping?"
"Because I'm reading something that reminds me that babies are more important than cleaning."
(with wild, hopeful joy) "Does this mean we don't have to clean up anymore?!?"
Be grateful for the messes in your life.  They mean you have people to make them and better things to do than clean them up.  
*note:  This poem was originally published in the Ladies Home Journal in 1958.  I reposted it from this blog:*


Jenny said...

Now I'm dripping too.

Rebecca Reid said...

I love Charlotte's response! "YES! No more cleaning!!"

Teacher Eli said...

Jenny: I think this poem should be embroidered on pillows and painted on decorative wood plaques and tattooed to our arms. There have been days since I learned it (tough, dirty, days) where it's just been running through my head continuously, like a mantra.