The average 37-year-old man who is in the prime of his life, is most likely busy with a career, hobbies, sports and family. He can easily feel like he is spinning his wheels and juggling many hats, as he packs each day full of responsibilities and obligations. He has household chores, a beautiful wife and sweet children and a boss who has just one more deadline. There never seems to be time to get it all done as priorities of people and things can randomly be displaced. There is no pause button in life, so it keeps moving along. This pattern of life has repeated itself in history, and the words of the song Cats in the Cradle, are still relevant today.
Harry Chapin, along with his wife Sandy, wrote the telling tale and set it to music in 1974. Past observations, other musical influences and the birth of their son prompted the creation of this popular song. Cats in the Cradle, which has been used as an example in church sermons, as well as in marriage and family counseling, has lyrics that are as true today as they were 37 years ago. Children grow up quickly and the busy lives of some parents leave both wanting more. As the years go by, it often happens that history repeats itself and the tables are turned with the child leading a busy adult life and the parent sitting and waiting.
This song illustrates the love and longing between a father and son who never quite seem to have the time to share. It could just as easily had been about a mother and daughter, or any type of relationship. The ‘we’ll do it someday’ effect is alive and well. Time escapes us and years fly by faster than we would have planned. History does repeat itself, or at least the behavior of people generally stays the same.
An example of this behavior could happen during the holiday season. A parent goes to the time and trouble of selecting and purchasing the most dreamed about and coveted toy, game or electronic for their child. They spend hours looking for sales, shopping, wrapping and hiding the gift with anticipation of that huge smile and shouts of joy. The long awaited day arrives only to put the gift aside until after dinner. By that time, the assembly, reading of the rules for the new game, electronic hook-ups and downloads or craft preparation becomes too time consuming for enjoyment. The special gift ends up on the shelf until they have more time to do it right another day. That day may never come, as the words to Cats in the Cradle play gently in the parent’s mind.
Taking the time that matters each day is the key ingredient for making memories that will last a lifetime. When the young 37 year old dad finds himself at age 74, the roles are often reversed. History repeats, but you can not reverse the clock. The years feel doubled as time moves on and regrets fill the space. Just as Cats in the Cradle, the song on top of the charts in 1974, reminds us to live and love each day. Life is short.
Written by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon