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March 2, 2009

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,
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.

By Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
Originally published in the Ladies Home Journal, 1958

Isn’t that the best? I have honestly never heard that poem before seeing it on MckMama’s blog, but apparently many others are familiar with this work. I came across this just after coming downstairs from rocking my oldest ‘baby’ to sleep. My Elizabeth-baby certainly isn’t “keeping”…she is growing up right before our eyes. I cannot believe she will be seven years old in another month or so.


My life with three…

My house is messier than it has ever been. I can NOT for the life of me seem to get a handle on everything that needs to be attended to at the same time. Therefore, my home feels like it is in a constant state of disarray, to some extent. This poem was a sweet reminder to me that my ‘job’ as a stay-at-home-mom is NOT about keeping the house spotless, the laundry put away, the dishes always clean. My ‘job’, the reason for our sacrifices, is our children. Raising them up in the way they ought to go. Teaching, loving, disciplining, playing, loving, loving, loving- that is my ‘job’. I am paid mainly in hugs, kisses, sweet and kind words and works by my children and husband. Sometimes -sometimes ALOT- I am paid with frustration and angry words… Those are the times I forget that my babies aren’t going to “keep” and loose sight of the mother I strive to be for my children.

I raise my voice far more often than I care to admit. Sometimes I expect too much of my still-very-young children. I wish that everyone always made it to the bathroom in time, beds got made, teeth were brushed, and jammies put away without my constant nagging. I catch myself and stop, but not always in time. Then, the Guilt sets in. Oh the guilt I carry as a mother. Why can’t I always be loving and patient with my children? We prayed for these miraculous gifts, we planned and hoped and waited for these beautiful little people.

I am so thankful for a God that IS always loving and patient with me. I try to stay on my toes and ahead of the storm. Oh, but some days I am smack in the middle of that storm. When the baby won’t nap longer than 20 minutes at a time, John is fighting a cold and has been having tantrum after tantrum for days on end, Elizabeth is sporting an attitude I really wasn’t prepared for until a few more years from now… oh, these are those stormy days. These are the days that I have to stop the warfare (in my head, then in my house!) and remember that God watches over me and my family in ways I cannot ever hope to comprehend and then I stop and get on my knees and talk to my God. I ask for forgiveness. I ask for compassion. I ask for patience. I ask for help. And you know what? My God always answers.

Sometimes I hear a simple ‘atta girl, you can do it’. Other times I hear a caring reprimand. Always I hear that I need to strive to love my children -my gifts from God- just as God loves them… and me. Uncompromising, unfailing, never-ending, understanding. The ultimate cheerleader, really.

How often I forget to step back and watch these beautiful little people just BE. They are fantastic to watch and I always love it when I catch them just being. Those are the moments I forget everything else and simply remember. I want to remember. Elizabeth’s big green eyes flashing with energy and joy. The way that Johnathan’s hair smells when he’s asleep. How William’s face just lights up when he looks at me.

Oh Lord, help me remember.

My babies aren’t ‘keeping’.

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