“Cat’s in the Cradle” is Harry Chapin’s only No. 1 hit song and no doubt for most of you the ONLY song you remember Harry Chapin ever performing. It came out four months after Debbie and I were married and I thought it was an interesting song, but not very meaningful at the time. But now, forty years later, the song is a reminder of all those ‘good times’ my father was going to have with me and the ones I was going to have with my sons. Sadly, my dad’s opportunities and mine are long gone. As Job said some four thousand years ago, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and are spent without hope.” Job 7:6 Those seven to eight thousand days my sons lived under my roof are gone! And there are times… Oh, if it were only possible!… I wish I could turn back the clock and play a little more catch with them.
But I was busy! Important responsibilities demanded my attention! I was dealing with other families who had great needs; ministry events had to be planned, prepared for and executed; conferences required my attendance; classes needed to be taken and beyond those…bulletins needed to be written and printed, light bulbs needed to be changed, buses had to be inspected… you know, important stuff!
Oh, if only I could turn back the clock and go to fewer conferences, take one less class, let others change the bulbs and get the buses inspected. If only, I could come home early a few more evenings to play catch in the backyard with my sons. If only…
The final words of the Chapin’s song are haunting as well. “And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me he’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.” What a tragedy it would be for a third generation of Reimer dads to be too busy to play catch, too busy to play a game, too busy to spend time with the most important ‘little people’ in my sons’ lives. If only…
On this Thursday, I have wonderful news! In this way, my boys are NOT just like me! Last Summer our families lived in the ‘Big House’ on a North Carolina beach…yep, all eighteen of us. What I saw filled my heart with joy. My sons were spending time with their children …my grandkids! They were playing in the water, flying kites and building sand castles. They didn’t leave it all up to mom. They were involved with getting their ‘little people’ ready for the day, fixing meals, putting them down for naps, cleaning up ‘accidents’. And the way they went about it told me this wasn’t their ‘first rodeo’ – they have been doing this at home, too. They are busy men – working 40, 50, 60 hours and more a week. They have up to hour-long commutes to work. They have homes to maintain. But unlike their father and grandfather, they obviously make time to play catch, comb little girls’ hair and they don’t leave it all up to the moms. I’m impressed and so thankful that they didn’t grow up to be just like me!
I know they aren’t perfect and I know there are times when ‘lesser stuff’ will demand their attention, but from my viewpoint, their children have fathers who are fully engaged in their lives. And seeing it firsthand thrilled this old man’s heart whose opportunity has flown by like a weaver’s shuttle and my hope to make my ‘little sons’ lives different is gone. Sons, I’m so proud of you! And I’m so happy for your children, because they aren’t hearing as often as you did, “We’ll have a good time then…”
Think about it.