Babies Don’t Keep

DSCN1565My fifth child is 2 months old now. How can that be?   She likes to cuddle and snuggle and rock. So that’s what we do.  As I look around my house- the floors covered with crumbs, dishes piled in the sink from the weekend- I think about a few poetic lines about dust, cobwebs, and rocking babies my mom had embroidered in a frame on the wall when I was growing up.

My mom actually told me recently that these lines were actually part of a longer poem called “Song for a Fifth Child.”  How appropriate!  I hunted down the poem and what do you know?  The whole poem was written for me!  A mother with her new fifth child- a baby girl.


Song for a Fifth Child

by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

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 shoppings 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.



So I’m not worrying about the fact that my dishes don’t get done every day or that the floor gets swept only when company’s arrival is imminent. Instead, I am enjoying my baby’s soft skin and sweet breath and squishy, cuddly body as I hold her close and rock her.

And I think, as I rock her in the dark stillness of night, of my mom’s words of wisdom that she bestowed upon me when my first was born, “Make friends with the night.”  I enjoy the peace and quiet that rarely reigns in my home and think that these moments are fleeting and this season will pass far too quickly.  So I am content.  To sit and rock my baby, for babies don’t keep.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s