song for a fifth child

A sorority sister of mine posted an excerpt from this poem on Facebook yesterday and I was immediately intrigued and had to find out more. It was written by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton and first published in Ladies Home Journal’s October 1958 issue. It puts into words pretty much everything I’ve ever thought about housekeeping, and I’m re-posting it here because I think I shall make it into a cross-stitch sampler and I don’t want to forget.

Song for Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt 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 a 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,
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.

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