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Tired Mothers

From the Omaha Daily Bee, July 21, 1913. By Mary Riley Smith.

A little elbow leans upon your knee,
    Your tired knee that has so much to bear.
A child’s dear eyes are looking lovingly
    From underneath a thatch of tangled hair.
Perhaps you do not heed the velvet touch
    Of warm moist fingers holding yours so tight;
You do not prize this blessing over much,
    You are almost too tired to pray tonight.

But it is blessedness! A year ago
    I did not see it as I do today—
We are so dull and thankless, and so slow
    To catch the sunshine till it slips away;
And now it seems surpassing strange to me
    That while I wore the badge of motherhood,
I did not kiss more oft and tenderly
    The little child that brought me only good.

And if some night, when you sit down to rest,
    You miss this elbow from your tired knee,
This restless curly head from off your breast,
    This lisping tongue that chatters constantly;
If from your own the dimpled hand had slipped,
    And ne’er would nestle in your palm again;
If the white feet into the grave had tripped,
    I could not blame you for your heartache then.

I wonder so that mothers even fret
    At little children clinging to their gown,
Or that footprints, when the days are wet,
    Are ever black enough to make them frown.
If I could find a little muddy boot,
    Or cap, or jacket on my chamber floor—
If I could kiss a rosy, restless foot,
    And hear it patter in my home once more.

If I could mend a broken cart today,
    Tomorrow make a kite to reach the sky—
There is no woman in God’s world could say
    She was more blissfully content than I.
But, ah, the dainty pillow next my own
    Is never rumpled by a shining head;
My singing birdling from its nest has flown—
    The little boy I used to kiss is dead!

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