You clean and the house is dirty. You do the dishes and then five minutes later, the sink is full again. Literally before you’ve even finished helping them put their toys away, they’re splayed out across the floor. The new clothes you just bought them are now filthy and frayed.
This can drive you nuts. Or you can learn to love it. In Tibet, Buddhist monks make beautiful mandalas out of sand. They spend hours, even days, crafting these complex, geometric designs… only to wipe them clean and start over as soon as they’re finished.
Isn’t that a way we might see
all the work we do as parents?
It’s not about cleaning the house, it’s about the mandala—an unending, ephemeral process that we begin again and again and again. Their toys, their clothes, the dishes, these things are never done or clean or set. No, entropy is always at work. Our kids are at work. Their chaos and growth and needs are at work.
So we should not feel exasperated or frustrated by it. We should love the flow of it. It’s not work we’re doing, it’s art. Finish? To be finished would mean the end of this—the end of their childhood, their end of our lives. No, we like that it’s a little bit like Groundhog Day. Because it means a chance to wake up and do this with them again. To do it beautifully. To do it well. To do it together.