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When I’m down on myself about the long grass in the yard or the laundry that needs folding or the easy but non-nutritious dinner I fed the kids my mom sends me a poem. I was reminded of it today when theunexpectedtrip put up this post about a random day in her life. She was unwashed and rumpled, racing around with her son trying to get errands done. She was struggling to meet her goals of feeding him (and herself) healthy and nutritious food and was down on herself about making “easy” choices. She was fielding judgement from strangers about her choices and battling to have some adult time with a toddler in tow. And then she unexpectedly found herself in a blissful moment, sitting at a sidewalk cafe eating pizza with her baby boy on a blustery afternoon. The world stopped, the inner dialogue stopped, and she was content and grateful in that moment. I identify with that.

We’re so hard on ourselves. We try so hard and give so much but it never seems like enough. I’m going to try to remember her story and work for moments like that. I want to collect those moments and hold them up as a measure of my success as a mother. I want to measure myself by that standard rather than by how clean my house is, or how fancy my cookies are or how put together I look. Because truly, in the end, my kids won’t remember if the dishes were done or if the grass was mowed or if my hair was brushed. They’ll remember the day at the sidewalk cafe. They’ll remember the quiet moments in the rocking chair. They’ll remember the time spent. And after all, babies don’t keep.

Babies Don’t Keep

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


NORA KASTEN Artist Oil Painting “Mother & Child”