"Babies Don't Keep"

by Boon and Boys


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 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.

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How often must I remember these words.  As I transition into my new life as a currently full, and at least mostly, stay at home mom, I hope to hold this message dear to my heart.  I may have dishes to do, cleaning to complete, and groceries to get, but my baby will grow and I don't want to lose a moment with him.  I may not get to shower when I want, attend yoga classes, or have time to get a massage, but I have the honor and privilege of being a mother.

Due to a mistake on the part of our movers, we've been in our new home for two weeks without any of our stuff (other than what we brought in our car).  No furniture, other than an air mattress, two lawn chairs we bought, and Henry's rock n' play.  Little clothing, only paper dishes and utensils, and much less of our "toys" and technology.  As difficult as it's been to be without so much, it's also been somewhat of a blessing in disguise.

Derek hasn't started his job yet, so our days have been completely devoted to family time.  No more packing or unpacking, no distractions, no organizing or cleaning, only each other.  We have explored the town, played games, had story time, talked, made home videos, taken baths, cuddled, hung out in our air mattress, and "camped" out in our apartment.  We've been forced to be more present and less occupied.  We have lived with much less material objects and bonded more fully.  

Even when our stuff arrives and we have organizing and unpacking to do, more activities to pull our attention, and less time together once Derek starts work, I will speak these words to myself, remembering that babies don't keep and each moment with my family is both precious and irreplaceable.