Babies Don’t Keep…the poem has an author!

I posted this a while ago and a lot of people seem to be looking for it – so here it is again.

Babies Don’t Keep
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

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.

22 thoughts on “Babies Don’t Keep…the poem has an author!

  1. My mother always loved this poem and I was so glad to find it for my neice’s baby shower as a tribute to her grama who would have ADORED this new baby! Thank you for helping me make this so special for all of us!

  2. This poem meant so much to me as a stay-at home mommy!
    I even have the last stanza on a china mug my mom gave me many years ago.
    My children were born in 1974, 1977, 1981 and 1984, and I just became a grandma last June!
    I was searching the Internet for this poem,
    to send it to my daughter-in-law for her first Mother’s Day,
    as well as to my niece who became a mommy in September,
    and here it is!

    Mish, do you know WHEN it was written?

  3. Pingback: pretty sweet.

  4. Oh, Thank You! I have been searching everywhere to give this to my daughter-in-law. I loved this when I had my first, and now that all 3 are grown and have given me 9 grandchildren ~ I want this beautiful reminder that baby comes first for them, too. Wow! I think the older we get: the faster time goes!!! Enjoy these precious gifts and keep this reminder in plain sight to help keep priorities straight.

  5. The poem was published in 1958 in Ladies Home Journal under the title “Song for a Fifth Child”… that title makes it even a bit more poignant, no?

  6. I remember reading this poem on a framed print in a gift shop when I was just a teenager. It touched me then… touches me now, now that I have TEN children of my own! The oldest is 20 and the youngest is 6 months. There is a five-year gap between the ninth and tenth, so believe me, I am soaking in the “rocking time” with this one!

    • I totally know what you mean! I have a seven year gap between numbers 4 and 5 – and I made sure to cherish each rocking moment with numbers 5, 6 and 7!

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  9. I *only* have four – but there’s a 14-year gap between #2 and #3, and by the time the younger two were born, I was wise enough to remember to enjoy them…

  10. In 1982, when we both had babies, my friend was cross stitching the last stanza for a wall hanging. I never knew there were any other verses. I looked up this poem for my daughter, who has a two-and-a-half year-old and a four month old AND works while her husband finishes med school. I’m very proud of her, but it amuses me when she says, “Mom, having two is so much more work!” I smile and say, “I know what you mean. you and your sister were just thirteen-and-a-half months old. It was like having twins the hard way.” My house looked like a disaster zone, but I poured myself into taking the time to play, read, and rock with my girls. Twenty-nine years and two degrees later, I know I’m glad that I spent the time on the most important thing I’ve ever done.

  11. This reminds me of the poem I wrote for my then two-year-old daughter, who is now 29, with two little ones of her own.

    In a Hurry
    by Sharon Freeman

    “Wait for me, Mommy!” you call,
    Running after me, fastest of all.
    And so I slow my steps and wait,
    Even though we’re running late.
    For you want to hold your Mommy’s hand,
    And that makes me feel just grand!

  12. Wow! I found this lovely poem framed at a goodwill store-I had to buy it. It even had lace around the inner matt-Beautiful-it hangs in my grand-daughters room-a gentle reminder of what is really important in life.

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  14. I love this poem.
    Do you know where/how I can get a cross stitch or canvas or plaque, etc. of this. I’m wanting to give it to my daughter who just had her first baby.

  15. That made me teary! I thought I was only going to get one and was so worried about messing her up that I completely missed the quiet rocking time… it was taken by grandmothers helping me. When I got baby 2 I was shocked and thrilled and yes held him a little too long but I knew he was it. My very last. Thanks for the poem!

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