“They tie you down,” a woman said,
Whose cheeks should have been flaming red
With shame to speak of children so.
“When babies come you cannot go
In search of pleasure with your friends,
And all your happy wandering ends.
The things you like you cannot do,
For babies make a slave of you.”
I looked at her and said: “‘Tis true
That children make a slave of you,
And tie you down with many a knot,
But have you never thought to what
It is of happiness and pride
That little babies have you tied?
Do you not miss the greater joys
That come with little girls and boys?
“They tie you down to laughter rare,
To hours of smiles and hours of care,
To nights of watching and to fears;
Sometimes they tie you down to tears
And then repay you with a smile,
And make your trouble all worth while.
They tie you fast to chubby feet,
And cheeks of pink and kisses sweet.
“They fasten you with cords of love
To God divine, who reigns above.
They tie you, whereso’er you roam,
Unto the little place called home;
And over sea or railroad track
They tug at you to bring you back.
The happiest people in the town
Are those the babies have tied down.
“Oh, go your selfish way and free,
But hampered I would rather be,
Yes rather than a kingly crown
I would be, what you term, tied down;
Tied down to dancing eyes and charms,
Held fast by chubby, dimpled arms,
The fettered slave of girl and boy,
And win from them earth’s finest joy.”
by Edgar A. Guest
Someone posted this poem on a message board I frequent a week ago, and I decided to repost it here. I remember the first time I read this poem. We lived in Landers, California on Dusty Mile Road. It was a VERY long (mile or two) walk to the mail box out on Hwy 18 (I think) which was also called Old Woman Springs Road. Cool names in Landers. Anyway, I came back from the mailbox and there was one of those little booklets of poetry from some publication I subscribed to. Most of it was Edgar Guest and some woman whose name escapes me but she wrote similar things. Always about home, family, patriotism, faith. I loved those little booklets. I hated this poem. See, I had no intention of having children. NONE. I didn’t like them. I’d recently read a book by Phyllis Whitney called A Long Time Coming. One sentence in that book really resonated with me. Christie, the heroine of the book, quotes her mother saying, “I alarm children, and they alarm me.” That about summed it up for me. I was irked that such a great poem could be so cruel. I mean, why was I selfish not to want to have children?
Actually, I don’t think I was necessarily selfish. Immature, perhaps, wrong definitely, but not selfish. I would never have advocated the mother in that poem abandoning her children to pursue selfish things to the detriment of her children. I just didn’t have a clear view of the whole picture– kind of like the other woman who also didn’t see the whole picture of motherhood.
And to think I now have nine. I wonder if God had an amused smile at me back then…