Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Song for A Fifth Child"

I've been reminded lately of the joys--and struggles--of mothers of young children trying to juggle childcare, work, needs around the home, all the while desiring to keep important relationships strong and healthy. Add to this the love for--and the unfulfilled itch of--writing. Although my children are grown with families of their own, I remember those days.

Thus, in honor of those who are at that stage, I thought I'd share a poem that's always been a favorite of mine. You're probably familiar with it, it's been around a long time--once published, I understand, in a 1958 issue of Lady's Home Journal. But it's worth repeating. Take heart, young writers, time for writing will be there. The days of children being preciously small will not. So relax--and rock.

Song for A Fifth Child
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
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby 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 hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will 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.

I'm heading off for Saturday's Central Ohio SCBWI conference. Can't wait to hear from Mandy Hubbard, author and agent with D4EO Agency, Delacorte Press Editor Krista Marino, and others. I've packed the picture books drawn from commenters' suggestions to donate to the Nationwide Children's Hospital Reach out and Read program, and look forward to the critique of the first 10 pages of my manuscript that were submitted for review in advance. I'll check in later with a report of all the inspiring things the day promises to hold. See you later!

Any rocking plans you have for the upcoming weekend?

photo courtesy:


  1. What a lovely poem~ I hadn't seen it before, but it will be shared with my friends. Have a wonderful time at the conference~ looking forward to hearing how it went!

  2. Love this poem. What a great reminder of what's important!

    Hope you had a good time at the conference! Speaking of which, there's one sponsored by my local writers group to be held here in Shelbyville on May 21. Speakers include Ann Gabhart, Laura Resnick, Annie Jones, Lisa Samson and others. Cost is $40 (preregistration) and that includes lunch. Am trying to think of my writing friends who aren't too far away who might be interested. Sorry to go on about it here but I don't think I have your email. If you want the brochure emailed to you, contact me at karenelange(at)gmail(dot)com. I'm going to post about it too, later this week. :)


  3. I love this poem!!!!! I had a great weekend. It was my anniversary and it was very special. Hope you had a great time too.

  4. Hi, everyone--glad you enjoyed the poem :-)

    Karen, thanks for the info' on the conference! I'm sure I'd enjoy attending, but the timing won't be so good for me at that time. But thanks for thinking of me.

    And Tana--Belated Happy Anniversary! I did have a great time at the conference, and hope to post about it soon...

  5. Oooh, I hope you had fun at the conference!

    I've heard the last line of the poem before, but that's it. I **really** enjoyed it. Thanks so much for sharing. Sometimes it can be frustrating how much babies and young children just want you close by, but other times I want to freeze time and keep them forever. ;)


  6. Love that poem, thanks for sharing! Hope you had fun at the conference.