Cats in the Cradle. Will you call, son?

When you coming home, son? I don’t know when. 
But we’ll get together then. 
You know we’ll have a good time then.

My boy will leave home, one day. I hope it’s a gradual transition. I already don’t want him to go. Yet I know I’ll have done a really good job of being Dad if he’s wanting to go and prepared to leave. It’s what I’ve been preparing him for. He’ll be excited and a bit scared; I’ll be terrified and selfishly lonely. I want him to know I’ll always be here for him. Terrible I know, but I hope he needs me…..

As my own son picks up the pace towards that inevitable moment when he will leave home and enter the big bad world to pursue his own adult life, the lyrics to this song ring true.  It reminds me of moments of placing time spent with him ahead of things like making money, or housework. Or even the pursuit of my own happiness.

Then there are the regrettable times when I have said I was too busy doing something seemingly more important than kicking a ball, seeing his latest Lego creation, FIFA team, or picture he’s drawn of our life together.

No one can do this parenting thing perfectly, but most try. Dadhood is a tough gig, yet the best ever. I’m not even there yet, with plenty of time before he might leave, so I need to focus on the here and now, and spending time with him. That’s what counts. Even if he’d rather spend his spare time with friends. I’ll leave the past and future alone. Short term I’m sure he loves whatever thing I’ve just spent money on for him – but the memories you create and they’ll recall will involve people not things. People like you. And me.

Be the person in the memories you and your child create. Be there. Often.

I should call my Dad. He, like every Dad before him, faced the same joyous proud heartbreak I have to look forward to. Followed by distance and less frequent contact with the little person who became a man, largely due to the parent’s efforts. I’ve been told that it can feel so painful – and requires grieving as it’s a huge, genuine loss. My Dad loves me calling, and I’m grateful he’s still around. Such a simple thing, usually on my to-do list, often relegated to the next day, and the next. It should be right up there.

I should call my Dad. I really should.

So I have to wonder, will my son, my child, as an adult, call me? Visit me? Think of me? I’m sure I’d be super excited about any contact, and I hope that I can come to accept that he needs to move on, become his own man, and spend his time pursuing his own life. I’ll be proud no matter what.

Try, succeed, fail, love, lose, create, remember, repeat. Be brave.

Maybe I’ll even be around to see him fall in love and have a child of his own.
Wow, I’d never really given that much thought. Makes me tear up, again.


Cat’s in the Cradle

Harry Chapin

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
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say, I’m gonna be like you, dad
You know I’m gonna be like you
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, dad?
I don’t know when
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then
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 okay
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed
Said, I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, dad?
I don’t know when
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then
Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man, I just had to say
Son, I’m proud of you
Can you sit for a while?
He shook his head, and he said with a smile
What I’d really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later
Can I have them, please?
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, son?
I don’t know when
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then
I’ve long since retired and 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 could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, son?
I don’t know when
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then


How do you feel about your children eventually leaving home? If they've already left, how do you feel now?

 

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