Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

The liberating devotion of having kids is something I didn’t expect

There’s a liberation that happened when we had a child, that I didn’t expect. When I am with him, he takes 100% of my attention. Which doesn’t sound freeing but in a way it is.

When we are together he can’t help but force me to pay attention, in two ways. First, being with him is such a joy, I want to give him my full attention and full self. But also, say I’m distracted.  He cries, he gets into stuff, he waves his arms, he laughs. If I’m not giving him my full attention, he finds way to request it. One way or the other, I’m giving him my full attention. 

Admittedly, that can be draining, because the hours are long and kids (Bo included) has a special type of energy (that I don’t). Robyn and I have had to drastically change our schedule, what we prioritize, and how we socialize. That’s not liberating. 

But when I am with him, and I mean really with him, I don’t have space in my working memory to think about worries. I can’t think about a task list. I can’t multitask. It’s just not possible. When I am with him, I have no choice for mind mind to be 100% there.

Being with my son is liberating, despite the commitment and full devotion it requires, because it frees me from the painful wandering of my own mind. It helps me stay fully, right there, in a moment that I am so grateful to be in, with no other distractions clouding my mind.  

I think this is why meditation is so transformative and social media is so scary. Both require the same sort of full attention, one is just freely given attention and the other steals it.

If my working definition of “devotion” is something that I voluntarily or involuntarily allow to take my full focus and attention, asking myself what I’m devoted to is a very interesting question. And further, how is that devotion changing me as I practice it - is it releasing stress, creating loving relationships, helping me express something, or is it just making me into a basket case?