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

A woman in a mom’s group I am in shared this poem with me and it struck a chord within me.

All too often, society praises productivity and shames mothers who don’t put their babies down enough. I’ve been told that I will spoil my baby by holding her while she sleeps and wearing her. I’ve also been told that I don’t get enough done during the day because I don’t put my child down enough. It seems we live in a society that praises productivity over meeting our children’s needs. Babies need touch, they need to be played with and held. These things are crucial for their development.

This is not to say that babies don’t also need solo play time, but after 15 minutes, if my baby decides she would rather play with mommy, I’m not going to choose the dishes over time with my child. I’m not going to tote my child around in the car seat or stroller all day everyday to get errands done. I’m not going to worry that my house isn’t immaculate. Things will get done, but my child’s needs come first.

Being mindful and present is also extremely important for my child. I am a full-time student and I worry about the next time she will take a nap or let me put her down so that I can get homework done. Housework and errands are then put on the back burner and I worry about those as well. When I worry about those things, I’m not fully enjoying time with my daughter.


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