Thursday, July 19, 2012

Parenting as Spiritual Practice

I am taking a class on monasticism and I am learning so much about practices. As I was reading the other day I was becoming somewhat overwhelmed with some of the ideas that were speaking to me. How could I, the mom, the student, the wife, the chef, the housekeeper, the errand runner make my life more spacious? This on top of feeling like I am being buried alive by toys every ten seconds. Other times it feels like my own stuff is going to tumble down and take out a toe or two, clean dishes on the right of the sink, dirty on the left both piles desperately crying for my attention as I try to balance homework and potty training. Sometimes it is just all too much. Too much stuff, to many things on my to do list, not enough time, not enough energy, not enough sleep, not enough quiet. If I sit and think about it long enough my head might actually spin.

Then this moment happened, my life doesn't have to be governed by to do lists. Enter in cynical voice, but you have to keep things some what clean. So as these two fought in my head, I started to begin to think about some spiritual practices I have learned over the years. For example praying as you make dinner for your family, for the workers who brought the food to your table and so on. Then I thought about just being present with LG. What if instead of just handing her things to keep her out of my hair while I am trying to do the dishes or fold the laundry or read a book for school, what if I put it all down and fully engaged with her.

So I did I put it all down and when Paul got home from work we ate dinner and went to the splash park. I took towels with me and my keys, no phone no bag no junk, just a towel and a cover up for LG. I spent two hours just being fully present with her and Paul and honestly it's a bit like meditating at first. There was this sense of Paul has an eye on her time to make a mental to do list. I had to keep reminding myself to be present there with them not looking ahead in my mind. There I found the holy and remembered what a precious gift these moments are. My child who is ever growing and learning and exploring is so happy to have me by her side for the journey. When I slow down and take time for the holy in everyday tasks, I don't miss any of the joy parenthood brings.

Maybe the answer then is just finding God exactly where you are with all the tasks and piles of crap you have to deal with. Well at least for those of us who won't be going to live at the monastery anytime soon. I started last week reminding myself to be grateful for LG. When she is frustrating me I remember the moments of near tears while out running errands and being surrounded by pregnant women. I stop take a breathe and remember she is not my burden, she is my beautiful and precious gift from God. It really puts things into perspective for me. I wonder if we all stopped and did this every time our child(ren) get frustrating if it would revolutionize parenting? It's really hard not to get lost in that frustration!

I think that I am on the path to finding the holy moments in parenting and today if you are a parent or caretaker I invite you to join me on the journey.  I never expected a class on monasticism to teach me about parenting as spiritual practice but is has and I am grateful.

1 comment:

  1. read the gift of mindfulness by thich nhat hanh. You will learn about "doing dishes when you do the dishes". The art of being mindful in any tasks-actually talks quite extensively about midnfulness in childrearing being generative of more time. Great read-as is living buddha living christ by the same author