Out of the Cradle

There is a song about being a father that elicits tears.

Every time.Father and Son

Cat’s In the Cradle, the Grammy winning 1974 rock folk song by Harry Chapin is a haunting vision of life coming full circle.

But as I was looking through a photo album recently, I wondered about the view from the other side.

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away

That photo album was full of special moments, family moments, large and small, where my own husband was not visible. He was off making a living, making a life for his family. It was his belief, his responsibility, his work ethic and life plan.

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”

The messages about what it meant to be a father always involved doing the right thing. Being strong, loyal, steadfast, a provider, a role model. So caught up in the burden of all that, some ignored the emotional connection. Maybe it is easier with a daughter, but to a son, a different vision.

Until later in life, when the pressures ease, the father can relax, can be emotionally available, like never before.

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”

He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”

And there it was, in the song, and in the life of so many men I’ve known.

He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

Is it ever too late ? I don’t believe so. I watched as older generations of fathers softened, learned to relax, and in the process, managed to heal those relationships.

Wishing you all a Happy Father’s Day.


Note: Harry Forster Chapin, father of five, based his song on a poem written by his wife, Sandy. He died in a tragic car accident at the age of 38. He left a legacy of songwriting and philanthropy, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his humanitarian efforts against hunger.

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59 Responses to Out of the Cradle

  1. Van, how lovely. I know the song but didn’t know about Harry Chapin’s life. Certainly many of those words were/are true for a lot of families!

  2. spearfruit says:

    Yes, I can relate to this post very much. This song describes my relationship with my father. He was very busy running his business while I was growing up. I am thankful him and I have a wonderful relationship today. Thanks for this thoughtful post today. Have a happy Friday! 🙂

    • My pleasure, Terry. The song hits home for many. I’d never presume to speak for (any) or all fathers, but this reflects the sentiment of so many in my life. Thanks. 💖

  3. LaVagabonde says:

    I’ve always loved that song.

  4. My father traveled 6 months out of the year and worked very hard during those 6 months, yet somehow created an impression he was still part of my life. He once drove 600 miles to watch me pitch in a little league baseball game. (Yes, we won the game. 🙂 ) He is almost 90 now and still impacts my life more than he realizes.

    • He is unique, Doc, especially for his (and my father’s) generation. You were blessed. I miss my father every day. He included us often in activities he loved, hard to do with 2 jobs and 6 children.❤️ Thanks for sharing.

  5. That song is such a classic. This was my experience of my father too, Van. He was always working, and he did soften a bit with age. I think the father-child relationship has changed a little now with both parents working – dads seem to be more involved with their kids. It’s a pleasure to see. 🙂

  6. Rowena says:

    My Dad seemed involved with me as a child but in retrospect he kept to himself a fair bit, quite aside from working. He is quite happy by himself. He never changed our nappies, which was quite the norm back then but he changed my kids’ nappies. He had no choice. Times had changed. My husband is very involved with our kids but I also have health problems so he’s needed to step in more too. He also wanted more of a relationship with our kids than he had with his Dad, who kept to himself and worked 7 days just to make ends meet.

    • It was a very common issue, multiple jobs or long hours to support a family. My own dad insisted that my mom not work, she remained at home with 6 children. But she didn’t drive, so it was up to him to take us anywhere. He did his best. This generation of dads, so very different. You’re so right. Thankfully. ☺☺☺

      • Rowena says:

        My grandmother had four children and didn’t drive. My grandfather was a Pastor and the kids had to get themselves around. My Dad’s mother was a concert pianist so they had to get themselves around a bit too. Took themselves off to weekend sport via public transport. He was one of 7. Different world. For better or worse, kids can be very sheltered these days. My daughter is 10 and catches the train and the bus to school along with her friend and they’re both packed with school kids but my son has always gone to school locally and is much more dependent on Mum, even though he’s older.

      • We had good public transportation where I grew up. Used public buses, trains all the time as a child. No worries. A different climate, for sure. ☺

  7. Thoughtful post and I enjoyed listening to the song. I’ll share this with my husband who thankfully has time for the children 🙂

  8. A timeless song that gets me every time as well. Can you tell me how you picked the artwork for “the no awards” I’m to sick to begin to keep up.
    Take care.

  9. JoHanna Massey says:

    Van, this is such a beautifully written, thoughtful, and timely essay. Thank you so very much for sharing this. 🐞

    • My pleasure, JoHanna. With all the sorrow this week, I put on hold some of the tributes to fathers that I had planned. This one was a favorite. Thanks for the compliment. 💕

  10. Val Boyko says:

    Feel the love 💕

  11. Nurse Kelly says:

    Absolutely beautiful, Van. That song haunts me as well. Such truth in its message. I hope you and your husband have a lovely Father’s Day weekend. xo

  12. AmyRose🌹 says:

    May the menfolk in your life have a great Father’s Day, Van. This song gets me every time I hear it. Great post! ❤

  13. Oh, do good Van. Moved.

  14. George says:

    Great song and it’s never to late. Understanding usually comes to us at different times. Eventually most of us get it.

  15. So true Van. Many responsibilities and also time for healing

  16. Beautiful Van ☺️❤️

  17. Wonderful song for Father’s Day. I always liked this song. Still do.

  18. joey says:

    Forever one of my faves. I liked his intro. Scares me some, too.

  19. lbeth1950 says:

    Brings me to tears.

  20. Deb says:

    I remember this song and its irony. It’s so true though, we all get caught up in the day to day and before we know it the day has turned into years. Boy this did make me cry!!

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