I remember struggling as a new mom to figure out priorities. Before children, life seemed hectic but manageable. I always had time to ponder about things I might want to do and had the freedom to change my mind on a whim. I could navigate responsibilities to make sure I could hang out with friends or read a book.
That all changed when children entered my life.
It seemed like there was never any time left over in the day for me. Nights belonged to my children as well, with neither of them being good sleepers until they were pre-schoolers.
It was all about being on constant call while trying to balance all that needed to be done just to care for a home, somehow nurture other relationships, and have a few minutes for myself.
A friend shared the “Babies Don’t Keep” poem that resonated with my heart and helped me on a day to day basis. It especially helped when I wasn’t sure whether to wash the dishes or sit in the rocker with a baby or young child, singing, talking, or just cuddling.
I will never regret the times I decided to ignore a messy house and be with my children instead.
I don’t think they knew I was making the choice to be with them, and I am glad for that. I was giving them what they—and all children—deserve, full attention and a sense of being a top priority in my life (their parents’ lives).
Babies Don’t Keep
Submitted By: Poockus
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.
Author: Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
Invitation to reflect:
- How many times have you felt pulled to put all your energies into housework and/or your career, even though it meant not being fully available for your child or children? On the days when you chose housework and/or career, at the end of the day, did you wish you could go back, even if just for a little while, and have a re-do?
- While it is necessary for parents to care for their homes and provide for their children, and can’t focus on kids every moment of the day, can you see some of the times when you could forego a chore and switch to being with a child because after all, babies (and children until they become fully grown) don’t keep?
Diane Wagenhals, Director of Institute for Professional Education and Development, Lakeside Educational Network