Urgent but Unimportant

 “My child arrived just the other day
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
He was talking fore I knew it
And as he grew he said
I’m gonna be like you dad,
You know I’m gonna be like you
And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon……”

In 1974, Harry Chapin made a #1 hit out of his song, “Cats in the Cradle.”  The folk song/ballad tells the story of a father who keeps promising his young son that he will spend time with him, but never gets around to it.  The “necessities” of life occupied the father’s time, and as the young boy grew, he told his father that he was going to be just like him-“like father, like son” is often a true expression. Finally, the son is grown and has a family of his own.  Now, the father is begging the son for some of the son’s time, but the son has no time for his father just as his father had no time for him.  “I’m gonna be just like you, dad” became a self fulfilling prophecy.

As I reflect back on times when my deceased daughter was a little girl and a young teen, I recognize that I spent time on things that seemed urgent at the time, but weren’t really very important in the overall “scheme” of things.  I agree that the flat tires had to be fixed, the grass had to be cut before it became a jungle, and yes, the stopped up toilet had to be dealt with.  These small (in the “scheme” of life) things were urgent to an extent and had to be dealt with at the time, but there were plenty more things that seemed urgent that were really optional and could have waited.  Perhaps that wood project that I wanted to finish, or that movie that I wanted to see, or that favorite tv show that I really wanted to watch, or that golf game could have waited while I did something more important-spend quality time with a little/young girl.  Maybe my little daughter, Bonnie, would have appreciated a little more time with old dad (I do think that young girls sometimes “gravitate toward dad more than mom).  I believe that it is human nature to be selfish with our time-I want to do what I want to do, and I want to do it when I want to do it!!  But a mature, thoughtful parent can see through the “smoke” and focus on what’s really important.  And spending quality time with your child is one of those important things. I use the adjective “quality” connected to the word “time” because I recognize that there were occasions when I spent time with my young children, but it was “under protest”- (I felt obligated) and I didn’t really enjoy it-maybe my children were too young to notice-hope so!

I hope the tone of this short article has not been too negative.  I’m simply trying to be honest about myself and give some good advice to younger parents.  It is true that they (your children) grow up before you know it.  Why not put off some of those “urgent” but not really important things and spend some quality time with your child/children now.  It’s an investment that you will be glad you made. And, for us older parents, maybe we can spend some quality time with our grandchildren.

Time is fleeting
As often the clock chimes,
So let’s be sure we’re meeting,
Our child’s biggest need-our time!

Written by David Haddock     
Clinton, Mississippi
in Loving Memory of Bonnie Catherine Haddock (02/06/1985-08/13/2002)

Leave a Reply

User Comments ( 2 )

  • I lost my son Danny on July 1, 2008 to an overdose. He was 22. In dedication to him I formed the first and only Prayer Registry for parents who have lost children.

    Please see my website and read about The Prayer Registry. This free website service is dedicated to all of the families who have lost children, whatever age that child was when they passed. This site registers the anniversary day of our children’s crossing. The members of this online community,the Prayer Team, have the opportunity to honor their child’s legacy, connect with other bereaved parents, and participate in world-wide group prayer for every registered loved one on the anniversary day of their passing.

    There is no charge for this service; it is my sincere hope that every bereaved parent who registers a child will join the Prayer Team and be a source of prayer for all of the children on the other side. Each time another child is registered, the Prayer Team grows larger and stronger.

    Please email Sheri at theprayerregistry@gmail.com to register your loved one on The Prayer Registry. By registering, you will have a forum to connect to other
    bereaved parents and I will be able to upload comments, biographies, or any other information you want to share about your child with our community of bereaved parents. Once registered, you will be a member of the Prayer Team and will receive Prayer Registry reminders one day before the anniversary day of one of our kids.

    Please feel free to email any questions, concerns or feelings that you would like to share. My door is always open. I hope that this site provides some small measure of balm for the wounds of loss. From one bereaved parent to another, I welcome you to my site and offer my support.

    This is one club that none of us would join by choice, but since we find ourselves in this unthinkable place, we stand stronger when we stand side by side.

  • Ed Mann

    So true… As grieving parents, we know this more than most folks ever will. I do my best to subtly communicate this to others. And I do my best to focus on what’s important for the two boys I still have here (When asked, I STILL have 3 boys).

    I’m sure you’ll all agree, but my life will never be the same because of this “new truth.” Nothing really seems more important than quality relationships once you’ve lost a child or any other close, loving relationship. The most important thing we can do is to give to others while we’re still here.

    As an aside, I met Harry Chapin when I was in college. I was working stage crew and he was playing a concert at my school. I had dinner and a beer with him back stage – in this crumby locker room below the “field house.” He was a remarkable human being and a true humanitarian – something I really didn’t appreciate at the time. But I do now and feel the world would be a better place if he was still in it.

    Thinking of the brief time I had with him and his band is a bittersweet memory, but cherished. Thank you for this post.