What does the meaning of this song mean to me?

I had a thought about the classic song by Harry Chapin.  For a refresher, YouTube it and remind yourself of what a punch in the gut it is.  It’s a beautiful song that can inflict a surprisingly a large amount of pain.

I remember hearing it when I was younger and thinking about my dad. He had always been a great dad, and at the time I figured that he had nothing to feel guilty about.  I was certain he’d feel zero regrets.  We’d tossed the football around plenty of times.  He took genuine interest in all things Brett. He helped us with our morning paper routes.  He was, and is, great.

It’s weird that this song automatically made me think about if my dad would feel guilty or not.  Is that really what its about?

Sure, there’s a lot in there.  The progression leads you through the cycle.  Yet, many years and listens later I’ve realized that this song is actually missing the mark on the reality of my own situation as a father.

Dude, I’ve played catch, mini sticks, hockey, soccer, every kind of sport!  I’ve committed myself to my sons’ ventures.  Barbara and I both.  She’s sewn them blankets, built them cozy chairs, fabricated Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley robes, read them stories in the car even though it makes her a little car sick.  She’s put medicine on their warts.  I’ve sopped up nose bleeds while simultaneously looking at the blood soaking into the skin on my arms, holding a crying face, and rubbing a back.  How much urine have I towelled up from the floor?  Apparently not enough.

I’ve started coaching them hockey.  I don’t know how to coach hockey but that doesn’t matter.  I’m going to do it because it makes my boys feel great!

Looking back over my 9 and a half years of parenthood, I feel like I’ve been engaged a great amount of the time.  I’ve got a storehouse full of memories.  It’s been great.

Yet I still feel guilty.  That same guilt that I swore my own dad had steered clear of.

I still regret every time I’ve said I was too busy, every time I didn’t want to get up to toss the ball around.

Every.  Single  Time.

In fact, what sticks with me more than the good memories is the thought of missed opportunities.  They grow up so bloody fast.  It’s quite a broken-hearted job.

So maybe the song is actually truer than I had originally admitted.  Almost like it’s a million cycles within one big revolution.  I’ll enjoy my good dad, then become one only to realize that no amount of quality time spent can ever add up to a satisfied and fulfilled experience.  It’s all just one big, long, hilariously cruel ride.  But it’s a gift, and I’m doing my best with it.

All of the joy, good times, laughs, shelter, tears, blankies, stuffies, basketballs, movie nights, bike rides, bedtime stories, cheese pizzas and hockey sticks can’t do anything to kill the feeling of how bittersweet it is to see your children grow older.

Our hockey season starts on Saturday.  It’s going to be fun for me, but they’re going to have the time of their lives, as they should;)

About The Author


Trying to share good words within a world of noise. Introverted, but I need people.


  1. Lois Gitzel | 2nd Nov 17

    I think you ‘got’ it, Brett … that’s what Harry would’ve wanted – for people to ‘get’ it.
    I believe that the joy is in the journey and, because of Jesus, the Joy never ends.

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