Cleaning & scrubbing · Parenting · playing · poetry · Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Babies Grow Up….Too True

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But babies grow up, we’ve learnt to our sorrow.
So settle down cobwebs and dust go to sleep,
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

The Playroom…I take the poem above seriously
The above poem hung in my mother’s kitchen for over thirty years and was read and admired often by visitors. The framed poem was actually a card that my aunt sent from Texas to my mother on the birth of my sister. It has recently moved to my sister’s home since she too is now a mother.

I always liked the poem but never fully realised the truth of it till recently. There is a four year gap between my second and third sons. With the older boys at school and kindergarten, I have time in the mornings to play with my youngest. Of course I had time with my first child too, but I appreciate it so much more now, having twice witnessed how quickly time passes and how precious those first 12 months are.

When I had my first child, I was amazed at the cards I got from friends of my parents, parents of my friends and even an e-mail from a colleague of my father. At the time I simply thought it was nice of them. Only later, when my own son was over a year old and I heard of others having their first child (sisters of friends, friends of sisters), I noticed myself reaching for the New Baby cards and penning a few lines of sincere congratulations. You see, I now knew what a wonderful adventure was about to begin for them. Only then did it click with me why so many aquaintances with children had sent me cards. There are some things only fellow parents can truly share with you.

Out of curiosity I googled “cleaning and scrubbing” today and found that the rhyme I know is the mis-quoted final verse of ‘Song for a Fifth Child’ by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton. Ruth wrote the poem based on her experience with her youngest child who, like mine, was serveral years younger than its siblings and for whom Ruth had more time.

I recommend that you read the full poem (published here with permission of the author). While the final verse is the highlight, the previous two verses are moving in their combination of sincerity and light-heartedness. This should be compulsory reading for expectant mothers. Pass it on!

Truly Madly Kids

7 thoughts on “Babies Grow Up….Too True

  1. Thank you for posting this. I have to give it to my partner. He only sees the chaos of the toys or in the kitchen when he comes home. And this even then when the kids are still up and playing, or them and me crafting or reading or so. he can't understand that I want to spend the time with than rather to clean the house (while they're awake – that's nearly impossible, even with girls).
    And so i start tidy up the rooms just before he comes home. silly me. Hoping he wont say anything. But then. Neither I did spend this time with my kids nor is it tide up. so… I should change it. But how.
    maybe I should hang this poem on a wall where he can see it before he can see anything else 😉

  2. Definitely do! Put it where he leaves his keys or jacket when he comes home. It hung in my mother's kitchen in a spot where everyone could see it. You'll have plenty to time to clean up when the girls are teenagers and are doing their own thing.

  3. These poems always make me feel a little sad because as a working mummy, it makes me feel a bit guilty that I can't stick this up at home! Time goes even faster when you are not at home looking after your little one!! Thanks for linking up with #twinklytuesday – I still hope that one day I can pop this up on the wall and it rings true!

  4. I know how you feel Lisa. I worked a four day week when Number 1 and 2 were smaller and am on maternity leave now with Number 3. Hang it up on your wall and let it apply to the time you spend at home. The housework can wait.

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