by Thich Nhat Hanh in The Miracle of Mindfulness (1996)
“…I try not to divide time into parts anymore…The time for him becomes my own time.”
Yesterday Allen came over to visit with his son Joey. Joey has grown so quickly! He’s already seven years old and is fluent in French and English. He even uses a bit of slang he’s picked up on the street. Raising children here is very different from the way we raise children at home. Here parents believe that”freedom is necessary for a child’s development.” During the two hours that Allen and I were talking, Allen had to keep a constant eye on Joey.Joey played, chattered away, and interrupted us, making it impossible to carry on a real conversation. I gave him several picture books for children but he barely glanced at them before tossing them aside and interrupting our conversation again. He demands the constant attention of grown-ups.
Later, Joey put on his jacket and went outside to play with a neighbor’s child. I asked
Allen, “Do you find family life easy?” Allen didn’t answer directly. He said that during the past few weeks, since the birth of Ana, he had been unable to sleep any length of time. During the night, Sue wakes him up and-because she is too tired herself-asks him to check to make sure Ana is still breathing. ” I get up and look at the baby and then come back and fall asleep again. Sometimes the ritual happens two or three times a night.”
“ls family life easier than being a bachelor?” I asked.
Allen didn’t answer directly. But I understood. I asked another question: “A lot of people say that if you have a family you’re less lonely and have more security. Is that true?”
Allen nodded his head and mumbled something softly. But I understood.
Then Allen said, “I’ve discovered a way to have a lot more time. In the past, I used to look at my time as if it were divided into several parts. One part I reserved for Joey, another part was for Sue, another part to help with Ana, another part for household work. The time leftover I considered my own. I could read, write, do research, go for walks.” But now I try not to divide time into parts anymore. I consider my time with Joey and Sue as my own time. When I help Joey with his homework, I try to find ways of seeing his time as my own time. I go through his lesson with him, sharing his presence and finding ways to be interested in what we do during that time. The time for him becomes my own time. The same with Sue. The remarkable thing is that now I have unlimited time for myself!”
An excerpt from: Nhất, H. (1996). Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation.