I heard an old song the other day that I hate. In fact, I can barely listen to it. It’s not a song that you might think — of a song that you’ve probably thought of over the past 15 years. It’s a song that has always bothered me, focused on a topic that cuts to the core of who I am as a father, as a man and as a son. 

It’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin.  

I know. Weird, right? 

Ever since I was a teen I remember thinking about that song and how terribly sad and full of recrimination it was. It hurt me to listen to it. Why does it bug me? Because it focuses on something that I despise and try to avoid with every ounce of my being, to the core of my soul — regret. 

As I watch my kids grow up faster than I can stand, I feel a daily compulsion to avoid regretting a day, a moment, an opportunity slip by where I’m not fully engaged with my children. They won’t be little for long, I remind myself when I desperately want some alone time and my kids are nipping at my heels to play with them. I actively plan my days around the activities that we can do together to continue to build our bond. Regret is something I want no part of. 

In the song, Chapin sings eloquently about the struggle a man and his son encounter in building that type of meaningful, long-lasting bond. 

If Chapin weren’t such a talented artist with a gift for the poetry of a song and a story, the song wouldn’t get under my skin as much. As I listen to it, I want to tell that dad to forget about the demands of his job for a few hours and play catch with his kid. Similarly, I want to tell that boy to forget about getting the car keys and spend quality time with his pop. 

My dad felt that way with his father, who worked in a different state and commuted home on the weekends. I don’t think my father ever felt a sense of kinship or connection with his dad and my father vowed he wouldn’t be like his dad, unlike the son in the Chapin song. My father was present for my life. He coached my teams, attended my activities, included me in his activities and supported my every endeavor. To this day, we share a tight connection. That is what I’m trying to create with my kids — a regret-free relationship. 

So, to every parent out there who struggles to find the time for their kids — I get it. We work hard. We have to pay the bills, put food on the table and keep the lights on. That counts. It matters. And so does finding the time to show our kids we love them by investing our time in their lives. If we don’t do it now, when they’re young, we risk never being able to get that time — or that level of relationship — back.  


The Beginning
About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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This is what I think...