Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Mother, oh mother

Song for a fifth child

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rock-a-bye, Lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek-peek-a-boo).
The shopping is not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there is a hullabaloo.
But I'm playing "Kanga" and this is my "Roo."
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rock-a-bye, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For 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, 1958

I will read this poem out to a group of expectant mum's tomorrow, and even though I have read this poem near on 50 times it will take all my effort for my voice not to wobble and water well up in my eyes. It's certainly not because I would like another baby, or even that I particularly liked being a mum to babies - I rather like them being able to speak and wipe their own bums - but it talks about the fragility of time, of why it's important not to sweat the small stuff, if the sun is shining go out and play with the kids, enjoy the moment, take time to really listen to them and to ignore the little things that are not important (perhaps returning to them when they are in bed). I think that's why this poem makes me cry, as a parent I know I could always do with more playing Kanga and Roo, and letting the cobwebs be.

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