Jul 17 2011

Babies Don’t Keep

Published by at 10:15 pm under Baby D 2010,Daneman Boys,Samuel Lewis

Have you ever heard the poem “Babies Don’t Keep?” Most people probably at least know the last two lines of “So quiet down cobwebs, Dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.” I’ve always loved those lines, and the whole poem (which I’ll put below) chokes me up every. single. time. I read it. I loved the poem before I was a mommy. I loved it even more when I became a stepmommy, and ever since Sam came along, it’s almost like a mantra to me. It’s especially haunting after a day when I KNOW I’ve been too focused on stuff that doesn’t matter – laundry, housework, work-work.

I just can’t seem to get the poem out of my head lately. Maybe it’s because he’s growing up so fast. Every day we get new words, new claims of his independence, and new skills. He’s learning so much, so fast. He’s rocketing out of baby-hood and into full-on toddler-hood much faster than I’m comfortable with. Maybe the poem is also resonating because I recently learned that it was originally published under the title “Song for a Fifth Child.” While Sam isn’t the fifth child, unless Daddy has a change of heart/mind, he’s likely our last. And I hate that he’s growing up so fast. I hate that Jacob and Caleb are growing up so fast. I want to just freeze time.

So, when I get extra cuddles, whether it’s because of a rough sleeping night, a boo-boo, an apology after a time out or just a drive by hug, I cherish them. When I get the great big, I-forgot-how-big-and-grown-up-I-really-am smiles and the oh-so-rare hug from my big boys, I cherish them. Because Babies, and Big Boys, Don’t Keep.

And I promised you the full text of the poem, so here it is:

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.

-Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply