Cats in the Cradle: Ode to Workaholic Moms



Cats in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man in the moon

When ya coming home Dad? I don’t know when,

But we’ll get together then, son. You know we’ll have a good time then.

This little refrain dances through my head with a jazzy little tune quite a bit these days.  I’m sure I was a strange child, because “Cats in the Cradle” has been one of my favorite songs since I was about 8 years old. Yes, I was cat-crazy from an early age, but I’ve always understood the story that the song tells. www.lyricsdepot.com/harry-chapin/cats-in-the-cradle.html

Cats in the cradle…

It seems like recently has been a particularly tough “Cats in the Cradle” time for my family.  My mom just retired after working 44 years with the same company.  She called me on the last week of her job, also my birthday week, and I was working on deadlines, stressing about sitter arrangements, and a dozen other things that day.  It was hard for me to stop the whirlwind of my day to settle down long enough to ask her how she was feeling about her next big life change.  Recently, I forgot my Dad’s birthday, but randomly called home just to say hi on his big day.  Luckily, it wasn’t a birthday ending in a zero. Both of these incidents shone the light on me, constantly in motion, compared to their process of slowing their lives to a “smell the roses” pace. My workaholic mom and I have officially switched places.

And the silver spoon…

My two preschoolers keep me busy with the usual stuff, like running to preschool and playdates. We have a lovely home that takes time to maintain and update. We are blessed with friends, church, and family.  My husband sometimes travels for his job, which strains our schedule. And, of course, we joke that I work for the most demanding boss ever, myself. It’s not quite a silver spoon life, but we, like most Americans, have it relatively good, as long as we are working and paying our dues.

Little boy blue…

Discipline, sibling rivalry, and reminders about manners take up a lot of my day  Most days feel like one step forward, two steps back. I thought two little girls wouldn’t wrestle as much as they do. Sometimes I am blue — no, worn out — by day’s end. Where are all the well-meaning lookers-on from the malls and the stores when I’m refereeing my 99th wrestling match of the day?

And the man in the moon…

When “Cats in the Cradle” was a hit for Harry Chapin in 1974, I was just a baby. Moms all over the country were still busting out of the household, scratching and clawing to make it into the working world. My girls don’t realize that women have, indeed, reached the moon, but only recently. They don’t yet realize how happy it makes Mommy to be able to keep one foot firmly in my professional life, while also working a second shift at home rather than sending them off to daycare. The song croons about a boy and his father, working too hard to fully experience his growing son’s life. The young child wants to be just like his daddy and by the end of the song, the workaholic dad realizes that, “He’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.”

In this day and age, the song would be written for mother and daughter. I really believe there is no absolute balance, no way to fully appreciate every single moment, no way to keep the kids small at their cutest stages. If it’s hard to decide whether this is an article with more “up” sentiments or more “down,” that reflects reality. Our lives are “Cats in the Cradle” moments strung together. Many women today take some big risks to fashion a life that allows for professional pursuit, flexible scheduling, and time enough with their mini-me’s. I wonder who will write the next “Cats in the Cradle”song for this generation. I won’t be surprised if it will be all about a mom and her daughters this time around.

Darla DeMorrow is a Wayne, PA mom, professional organizer and author. This post was adapted from her blog The Pregnant Entrepreneur. Also check out her blog Heartwork Organizing.

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