Poems about Parenthood and Babyhood...for Tomorrow.
April 27, 2020 6:56 AM   Subscribe

I need a poem on parenting or infancy to read at my brand-spanking new niece's baby naming TOMORROW. There are specs below the cut.

I had picked A Tale Begun but my partner said it's a bit too off beat for the crowd.

So while being a bit less off beat than that, I want a poem that captures the feeling of overwhelming love, and slight desperation, and exhaustion and exhilaration that come with entering into parenthood. Or poems that speak to parenting more generally, but in a compelling and non-saccharine way.

What poem would you read?
posted by jeszac to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Song for a 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.
posted by MiraK at 7:00 AM on April 27, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: (this one is my mantra, my every-single-day meditation, IMO the best thing ever written about children)

On Children
Kahlil Gibran - 1883-1931

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
posted by MiraK at 7:02 AM on April 27, 2020 [23 favorites]

I like this one, though I probably wouldn't give it to another person as that might feel like I was telling them how to parent.

Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
posted by slidell at 9:36 AM on April 27, 2020

I think yours is pretty good honestly.
posted by slidell at 9:38 AM on April 27, 2020

The Unitarian Universalist Association has a number of readings and poems for Child Dedications.
posted by andythebean at 12:58 PM on April 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

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