Big Girls Don’t Keep

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

There’s a very beautiful and famous poem that speaks to me deeply by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton; “Babies Don’t Keep”.

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
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 his eyes the most wonderful hue?
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.


As a mother to a four month old baby I find myself regularly holding this girl close and treasuring these days, I know they won’t last.  Soon she will be weaning and not depend on me so strongly.  She’ll be walking and exploring the world where I don’t take her.  She’ll be off to school and living a life I don’t know every second of.

But then there’s my big girl.  My Rose.

Miss Rose has just turned 4 years old.  She is weaned, she walks, she talks, she goes on sleepovers, she goes to school.  She swims without floats, she rides her bike, she is learning to read and write.

For her birthday she was bought so many awesome presents.  She got Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Super Girl dolls.  She got  Shopkins and My Little Ponies.  She got piles of dinosaurs and loads of art supplies.  She is surrounded by awesome things to play with, and she is getting better every day at entertaining herself.  She needs me less and less… and less…

Photo credit Unsplash

Photo credit Unsplash

Yesterday two things happened that reminded me how much my little girl still needs me.

In the morning we did some crafting.  In a house full of dirty laundry and chaos we decided that our time was better spent on a project.  Together we used a cardboard box, paint, glitter and cotton wool balls to build a rainbow adventure playground for her My Little Ponies to play in.  We got covered in paint and had a wonderful time.  She was thrilled.  She was happy.  She told me I’m her best friend.

Later in the day she went for her regular session at nursery.  When the school rang part way into the afternoon my stomach turned, what had happened?  Her teacher asked if I could go in early to pick her up as she had had a bit of an emotional crash, she is prone to extreme highs and lows in her mood like I am, and was in hysterics.  She needed her mummy.

I picked her up in my arms and held her tight whilst she cried.  She told me she missed me and she was tired and sad.

Babies don’t keep, they grow so fast.  Soon they’re off and gone, so rock them and hold them and love the time you’ve got whilst they need you.

But big girls don’t keep either.  One day spending a morning painting an old box with her mum won’t fill Rose with joy.  One day the idea of crying for her mum when she’s low at school will fill Rose with horror.  One day she will be big and grown for real, and she won’t rely on me or crave time with me in the same way.

Photo credit Jill111

Photo credit Jill111

Going to sleep last night she cuddled into me, held me tight, and told me she loves me.  We lay down together in the dark and snuggled up.  Me and my little girl.

We are on a countdown now.  It won’t be long.  Our days are numbered.

We won’t spend our days playing.  She won’t go to sleep with cuddles.  She won’t cry for me when she’s sad.  Each day counts.  Each day with my little girl that goes is a day she is closer to be grown, and one day less I get.

So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep, I’m cuddling my daughter, and big girls don’t keep.

You can check out all my contact info an links on, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!


2 responses to “Big Girls Don’t Keep

  1. Actually moved me to tears reading this. If I were as eloquent as you, I could’ve written the same about my girl and me. Beautiful article. Thank you!! ☺️



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