Babies don’t keep

My mother in law told me about this poem, and I love it. Too often I find myself wishing the newborn phase away (I want to interact with this kid, yo!) so I appreciate reminders that this is a quick and precious phase, the laundry can wait (not that the house has ever been that clean on my watch, anyway) but babies don’t keep.

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.



  1. Kristie September 15, 2011

    I can’t believe it’s already been a month!

  2. Kristie September 15, 2011

    Mmmm…love this one.

  3. Carolyn T. Bales September 19, 2011

    My mom had that last stanza cross-stitched on a frame. It’s lovely to see the rest of the poem. Very true.

  4. tanibree August 30, 2013

    truest poem I’ve ever heard, Love it.


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