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.

Regetis Photography

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.

Kendall is 2 years 9 months, Leyna is 5.5 weeks, and I’ve got some floors to ignore and dishes to push aside. It’s a snow day and we’re on our way out to play!

  • Sarah - perfectionReplyCancel

  • Mommy Boots - Absolutely beautiful. Now that my daughter is 1, I look back and wish I could have embraced and lived by this poem. I spent far too much time worrying about the state of my house and not enough time drinking each second with her in. Thank you for the reminder for my next babe!ReplyCancel

    • Momma Jorje - If it is any consolation, I swear we can never spend enough time drinking in every second… no matter how much time we do take for that important task. It is just never enough.

      … and babies don’t keep.ReplyCancel

  • Aimee - I absolutely adore this, because it is so, so true. Today I am home alone and so NOW the cleaning will get done. But not when my baby is home and we are having fun :)ReplyCancel

  • radmama - They really don’t keep. Enjoy while you can.ReplyCancel

  • Lizz - Beautiful post. I love it.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - My mom had this poem framed and hung in our kitchen. I still remember reading it everyday while I was eating lunch and asking her what “babies don’t keep” meant. Love it.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - I was just thinking I need to print it and artfully frame it for a prominent place in the house. Love your little memory of it.ReplyCancel

  • Donna - Now isn’t that the truth!!ReplyCancel

  • Pua - This brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • @muddero6 - Yay!! I loved this post! So great to leave the housework to enjoy our babies, beautiful!!!ReplyCancel

  • Chris @ Absolutely Adequate - Love, love, love! I fully subscribe to this philosophy which is why my home looks the way it does :)ReplyCancel

  • Tweets that mention Babies Don’t Keep | Baby Rabies -- Topsy.com - [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jill Krause, Jill Krause and Jennifer Hoegg, Vivien. Vivien said: RT @babyrabies: New blog post: Babies Don't Keep http://www.babyrabies.com/2011/02/04/babies-dont-keep/ [...]ReplyCancel

  • Jessi - awww, i just love this!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • molly - Oh, I love this. I’m tearing up. LOVE the cobwebs photo. Pretty much cobwebs in every corner of my house :/ReplyCancel

    • Jill - Here, too! I’m happy to get vacuuming and dishes done. Cobwebs are the last thing on my mind.ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - Well, that made me cry. I choose rocking the kiddo over dishes every time.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - I first read this when my daughter was about 6 weeks old and bawled my eyes out. It’s so true. Thanks for sharing :)ReplyCancel

  • Kelster - Very beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Christina - So true. When I was home on maternity leave with my son, I barely did any cleaning, LOL. I didn’t care what my house looked like. I just held and loved my little guy.
    Now that #2 is due in May, Colin is 2.5 and I work full time, we have a cleaning service. :)
    They grow up way too fast.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - Ha! We’re interviewing a cleaning lady this weekend. After the last few weeks, I’ve just given up trying. I’ll sacrifice whatever I have to to get help with the kitchen and bathrooms. I blame it on having a 2nd baby.ReplyCancel

      • quazydellasue - I just hired someone to clean our house, for the first time ever, because between my bad back, 35+ wk pregnant belly, and nearly-3 yr old, I can’t do it. She did an AMAZING job and we’re having her come back weekly for a while. We can’t afford it, but I deserve to live in a clean space and can’t be expected to provide one for a while. :) Asking for help is a big part of being a mom!ReplyCancel

  • B - Such a beautiful post :)ReplyCancel

  • Alexandria - aww i love this.ReplyCancel

  • Jazzmine - OMG LOVE this!! I copied and pasted as a note to my FB…(removed your pics of course!) :)ReplyCancel

  • Bada - Love. <3ReplyCancel

  • amy - Love it…what color green is that on you wall? (I ask as if you have nothing else to do but answer)ReplyCancel

  • stardustdawn - Sooo…..what’s my excuse now that they are teens????ReplyCancel

  • Momma Jorje - Good for you! I have always loved “Babies Don’t Keep” and it serves as such a wonderful reminder that NOTHING is more important than time with our children.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny B - This is so neat! My mom had an embroidery piece up in our house with the last 4-5 lines of this poem on it, I had no idea it was actually from a much longer poem!ReplyCancel

  • Shelly - LOVE this poem! Thanks for posting! So true…ReplyCancel

  • SmileyIsles - love it! what a great poem!
    thanks for sharing photos of your messy house–now I don’t feel so badly…ReplyCancel

  • Heather - My mom had the second part of that on a plaque in our house. I’ve always said that if I can raise my kids half as well as she did, I’ll have done a damn fine job.
    And now, I’m crying. Hormones.ReplyCancel

  • Robin - I absolutely love this post!ReplyCancel

  • TheFeministBreeder - Yep. Read it again. Cried again.

    I can’t come near your blog when I’m a hormonal mess.ReplyCancel

  • pamela - perfectly beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Erin - Beautiful. I need to read this on days where I start getting stressed and frustrated because the house is such a mess. Printing this and hanging it up in the house is such a good idea, it would be a great daily reminder to put things in perspective.ReplyCancel

  • onakey - Wonderful.ReplyCancel

  • Whitney - I Just fed the baby and I’m squeezed in bed between both of my boys right now (2 month old in his co-sleeper and nearly-3-year-old in the middle of our bed) and I’m bawling! This is so ridiculously true! I’ve never heard this before…thank you! It’s beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Rainyday - I haven’t heard this poem before but I love it!
    And that’s how my house looks most days, too.ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa DeLeon - Love it! This is exactly what my house looks like right now, maybe even a little worse.ReplyCancel

  • tobasco - LOVE this post. I essentially just sent the same sentiment to a friend whose 6 month old isn’t “independant enough”.

    Also, side note, love your headboard!ReplyCancel

  • Bryce - What a beautiful poem and post, thank you for sharing this!ReplyCancel

  • Melainie - I loved the poem, thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - A friend of mine’s mother sent this poem to me just after I had my son, and I remember reading it and crying – really crying.

    It brings back such sweet memories of holding my little baby and letting the chaos of life continue to swirl around me.

    Thanks for the reminder. I’ll be holding him extra tight tonight. Lucky for me he isn’t grown yet!ReplyCancel

  • Tabetha @ amomsjoy - This is beautiful, Jill!ReplyCancel

  • TheNextMartha - I can’t even tell you how much I love this.ReplyCancel

  • NainaDG - This poem was so beautiful. Thanks for posting it with the pictures. It made me miss the days when Bun was a new born and I never thought I would miss them because I did not have a happy 4th trimester.ReplyCancel

  • Whitney Moon - This is one of my favorite poems EVER. :)ReplyCancel

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