I love the music of Willie Nelson, including, “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” However, that song has always made me sad. I know it is just a song, but I have to take offense at the insinuations in its lyrics. Yes, there are wild and wooly cowboys with little moral value, just like any other group of people. But all the cowboys in my life are loving, honest, hard-working, loyal, family men. Come to think of it, most of the men in my life are cowboys!
. From my personal experience, I think any mother would be very proud to have their babies grow up to be a cowboy… or girl. My grandmothers were, my mom was, and I know I am.
I wrote this poem years ago for my Dad, the cowboy who showed me by the way he has lived his life, what a real cowboy is. Love you Dad.
My Dad, he is a cowboy,
so I don’t understand
the things old Willie Nelson
sings about them in his band.
He warns good mothers everywhere
heartaches for sure to bear,
if their baby boys grow up
and the cowboy’s life they wear.
They’ll be a lonely, drinking, wild bunch,
no peace of mind in sight,
no devotion, love, or commitment,
except to ladies of the night.
Now, Willie’s got a singing voice,
that’s for sure no doubt,
but when it comes to cowboys,
he don’t know what he’s singing about.
My dad, he is a cowboy,
born and raised by cowboy hands,
and he works hard every day,
and by his word he always stands.
It is a life of loving…
horses, cattle, land, and air,
and just so Willie Nelson knows,
there’s room for family there.
I remember my dad’s hands
playing marbles in the dirt,
and gently picking me up,
whenever I was hurt.
It was those same two hands of his
that patiently would take,
the hands of one much smaller,
and teach her to ice skate.
When I was just a little girl,
I’d follow him around.
He taught me how to float my boats,
while he irrigated the ground.
He took me riding with him
moving cows from place to place.
He liked me there beside him,
and it showed there in his face.
My favorite time was morning
when he went to feed the cows.
It wasn’t done by big machines,
like so many do it now.
There was a big old wagon,
by two horses it was drawn.
Two sleds bobbed close behind it…
I wish those days weren’t gone.
My dad, he is a cowboy.
He rides and ropes and all.
Just to know he is my dad,
makes me stand real tall.
Not much brings me more pleasure
than to hear that voice of his.
If Willie could just meet him,
He’d know what a cowboy is!
Sheryl Craig Russell