A Reminder for a Generation

Song for a Fifth Child

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.

Ruth Hulburt Hamilton, 1958

A reminder to mothers in our generation. Mothers who rush to ‘do it all’ and ‘have it all.’ Mothers who want to have a child and ‘have a life.’ Mothers who choose – to stay at home, to work, to work at home. There are always compromises and trade offs, whatever our personal choices. And whatever our choices or priorities, our babies grow up way to fast. So let’s make our babies, our children, our families, our choice.


  1. Hi Christie

    I couldn't agree more. What a wise woman Ruth Hamilton was.

    I have enjoyed reading through your blog and seeing all the fun and creative activities you get up to with your gorgeous Immy.

    I am your newest follower and will be adding your blog to my list of favourites.

  2. PlanningQueen says:

    Love this. Have stumbled and tweeted it too!

  3. •´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• says:

    Beautiful … as if I needed a better excuse.

  4. Beautiful and so true. Everything else can wait but our babies, they keep on growing.

  5. Hi! I'm Grace says:

    All I could say is that, "Very Cute!" 🙂

  6. Catherine says:

    Lovely poem, thanks for sharing it.

  7. ooh so true. i just blink and my babies are taller and smarter and older. am just thankful i get to spend so much time playing with them!

  8. What a lovely poem. Makes me feel a lot better about blowing off work (WAHM) today.

  9. This is a wonderful poem, and makes me feel better about playing with my children instead of cleaning my dusty house! It reminds me of the sentiment that I try to live by – on my deathbed I won't wish I'd done more cleaning.

    I've really enjoyed reading your blog and will visit again.

  10. Christie Burnett says:

    Thank you all for taking the time to comment, it really is a beautiful, insightful poem.


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