Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Zen of Parenthood

There are thousands of books on the subject. Anyone who has ever talked to a parent knows that each parent in the world has their own take on how to do things (how to soothe, how to feed, etc).
This post is not going to be about my advice to you on how to be a parent. I am not the world's greatest parent, but I'm not the worst either. Yet, the more I think on it, what makes someone the world's greatest parent? I don't know that either. As I said, this is not to be about how to be a parent as I have no real advice to give (I've only been a parent for a little over a week, folks).
No, this entry is about the Zen of Parenthood.
In some ways, parenting is a great deal like meditation. In the world of meditation, one is supposed to push aside all thoughts save for one and concentrate on that one thought into singularity.
Parenting is no different. The means are not the same as mediation, but the outcome is the same: to calm the mind.
Last night I couldn't sleep, so while my wife and son were out cold, I sat and watched Poozer doze. Those of you who are married, have children, or just have a significant other have, at one time or another, probably had that rush of thoughts that comes when you think about the relationship/life/etc.
What will happen tomorrow?
Will he/she still love me?

What If I get hit by a bus?
What will he/she be like when ten/fifteen years old?
How can I protect him/her from the troubles of this world?
On and on it goes.
Your brain runs at a million miles per hour with thoughts going so fast that they appear like those black shadows in the corners of your eye.
So how do you stop it?
You concentrate on one thought: his/her breath.
You watch this little person just breath. Concentrate on that as well as the idea that as long as that breath goes in and out, everything will be fine.

At the same time, you start to move in ways that feel like breathing.
This evening, as I was changing a diaper, my wife noticed that I wasn't looking at the baby while I was changing him. No, I was talking to her. Yet, there I was slapping on the necessary components (wipe, petroleum jelly, new diaper) without pausing.
You begin to move with a flow where you don't need to think. It's almost like second nature.
When I was doing theatre lighting professionally, I had the ability to not even look at what I was working on while doing it. Building a light from scratch, when you've done it enough, is like breathing. The same can be said for teaching (as can be seen with some of my colleagues). The explanation of Poe, the teaching of slope, or the understanding of French can be laid in your head in such a way that talking about them is like waving at someone. Any job can get that way.
Back to the point. After only two weeks, I have changed enough diapers that I can do it all with my eyes closed.
Parenting. It gets to a point where it's all a second nature. I love the fact that I no longer worry or think about what I'm doing when I'm with my son. Instead the time flies as I try to make him smile and learn.
I understand what my parents have been trying to tell me about parenting now.


Dennis said...

Parenting is trial and error, reading books is useless. Go with what you know.

cat said...

I agree with dennis! The books can only offer minimal assistance. If you get in a jam, talk to someone you know who is also a parent, or your parents. That is what my friends/sisters with kids do.

(I personally do not have kids, so what the hell do I really know anyways about being a parent...)

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