Monday, April 6, 2009


After joining Facebook a couple of months ago, I've wasted far too much time there. Last night, I thought I should tinker with my personal information... Specifically, I wanted to add a quote from the Velveteen Rabbit, after reading it to Maya at bedtime.

Once that was added, I simply had to tack on a bit from this old cross-stitched wall hanging my mother handed down to me when I was first pregnant.

Simple and deadline as it is, I tear up every time I read it. Every time I quote it.

So I went digging for the author.

As it turns out, the wall-hanging is a treasure beyond my own sentimentality, fairly valuable and sought after in collector's circles (good thing I finally found a place for it in the "new" house).

More importantly, it is part of a larger poem. The excerpt has been a part of cross-stitch and embroidery circles since at least the 60s. The full poem by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton, called Babies Don't Keep, was published in 1958.

Babies Don’t Keep
By Ruth Hulbert 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,
Lullabye, rockaby, lullabye loo.
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,
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.

So with that, I'm off, teary-eyed again, to convince my oh-so-big girls to rock a bit longer, and maybe read the Velveteen Rabbit.

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