Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Children Don't Keep

If you've ever had a grandmother who cross-stitched or a friend who scrapbooked, or if you've been to even one baby shower in your lifetime, you might be familiar with parts of the following poem (by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton):

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
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
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 her eyes the most wonderful hue?

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......

(Oh, that last line, it gets me every time. I'll give you a moment, too...)

Today, I was trying so hard to accomplish something. Anything, really. Because every once in a while, I need to feel productive in a business-professional kind of way instead of measuring the success of my day by how many times my son remembers to say "Thank you" and not throw his dirty socks on the dining room table as he strolls by.

I endeavored to throw a few items up on Ebay, clean a few rooms, and spend some time writing. To help me accomplish my tasks, I bought a new video for Drew to watch after I picked him up from school this morning. My master plan was to sit him in front of the television until he got that tranquil, glassy look...then I would hide in the office until my tasks were completed.

Well... I need a refund on my "babysitter". Drew didn't like the glasses that the duck was wearing in the story, so he turned off the T.V. and came looking for "MOMMY!!!!" Although I begged for a break ("Just give me five more minutes and I'll come play hide-and-seek, I promise."), he was full of ideas. Eventually, he agreed to play quietly until I finished my work.

In the middle of uploading pictures to my Ebay auction, I realized that I was humming the tune to "Cats in the Cradle"...obviously I was aware that I had passed up on an opportunity to play with my little boy, and it wasn't sitting well with me.

Oh sure, I get a thousand requests a day to play, but I'm well aware that my time is quickly coming to an end. Even now, Drew would rather play chase with daddy than snuggle for books with me. And when that phase draws to it's natural end, both my hubby and I will be begging for a little time with him when our son's world is consumed by his friends.

So, I stopped what I was doing, and went to look for my boy. "What do you want to do today?" I asked.

"I know! Let's have a campfire picnic under daddy's desk with marshmallows and fire!"

A few moments later, we were sitting in the office, under the desk. With marshmallows skewered to long sticks, we "roasted" them over a candle and looked at all the dust and dirt on the floor with a flashlight (sigh... my to-do list just got longer... note to self... Hubby's office is NOT self-cleaning).

After the campfire was put out, we shared a pillow and propped our feet up on the desk. Drew asked me to tell him a ghost story. Not knowing how scary I should make it, I just looked at him and said, "BOO!". Judging by his fit of laughter, it was apparently just the right amount of scary!

After about ten minutes, our campfire picnic was over, and he was on to more interesting adventures. And me... the busy me who wanted to accomplish so much today OUTSIDE of my role as mommy... I just found myself longing for one more marshmallow... one more "Boo!" before he ran off.

So, with all due respect to Ms. Hamilton, I decided that I needed to update her poem a little. (Because, honestly, when is the last time you had "...shake out the cloth and hang up the washing" on YOUR to-do list??).

Children Don't Keep

Mommy, O Mommy!
Come answer your phone
Tackle the laundry piles,
Get the bills done.
Empty the garbage, Limit T.V.
Make time for playgroups, Figure out the Wii…

Where is the mother whose voicemail is maxed?
She’s out in the backyard, content and relaxed.

I’ve put up my Out of the Office reply
‘cause I just can’t stand one more day to slip by
When I could be playing a game of “I Spy”
With my boy on the swing-set while I push him “HIGH!”

The chores and the errands can wait one more day
But boys won’t keep asking their mommies to play
So I’ll sign out of gmail
And put the PC to sleep…
I’m playing with my child, and children don’t keep.


Anonymous said...

Wow. That is all.

Surviving 4 said...

Wow...I don't have anything else to say...just WOW. Awesome post.

MindyMac said...

Absolutely precious! What a beautiful post. I am walking away with my mommyhood perspective refreshed. Thank you!

Christy Odom said...

Wonderful poem. Thank you for making my day. I needed to read that today.