For my last birthday before my son was born, my sister-in-law gave me a book on meditation, written by Thich Naht Hahn. One of the teachings in his book says, “Wash the dishes to wash the dishes.” His point is that we need to actually be in the moment and wash the dishes for the *experience* of washing the dishes. Not to have clean dishes. Not to please your spouse. Not to mull over your day. Just be present to washing the dishes. Once Jack arrived, I realized that I need to follow that advice in raising him, which is damn hard to do. So I modified his slogan for myself: “Feed the baby to feed the baby.” Jack’s not going to be a baby forever. Time is flying by, already, and he’s only four months old. I want to be as present and mindful as I can be with him. Because he’ll learn a lot more by watching me live my life than by listening to my advice.
I recently read a quote attributed to the writer and spiritual teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Raising children is like being at an eighteen-year mindfulness retreat.” I hope to put that idea into practice as often and as well as I can. If you’re at all interested in reading about it, you’re welcome to join me.