How Parenting Is Minimalism
Being a parent and being a minimalist are the same.
When I was growing up, I marveled at how simple — and seemingly boring — my parent’s lives appeared to be. I wondered why my dad’s taste in music seemed to be full of holes. Or, wondering why my mom didn’t seem to have her “thing.” As I became a teenager, I wondered where all of my parents’ friends were.
In the year 2000, I was 13-years-old, and I had just truly discovered Metallica, Gin Blossoms, and Will Smith. I was confused by how my dad seemed to have gone from loving Journey and Led Zeppelin to Los Lonely Boys and Norah Jones. I never understood why he seemed to have missed almost every song released between 1986 and 1999.
In 2004, I was 17, and I was obsessed with photography. I took a camera everywhere I went and was enrolled in a high school AP photo class. That’s when I learned my mom used to enjoy taking pictures but never really kept up with it. That led me to search for what my mom’s “thing” was. At the time, I couldn’t find it. More importantly, I couldn’t understand how a person could live life without at least one deep passion.
High school brought me a preoccupation with the subject of friendship. In my limited viewpoint, my parents seemed to have only a few really great friends and I was confused about why they rarely went to, or hosted, any parties.
Four years ago, my wife and I began adopting a minimalist lifestyle and it took me about three years before I was fully committed.
Two years ago, I became a father. Today, I realized that minimalism is just a proactive application of what naturally happens to parents who love their children.
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.
As I write this, I am in the middle of what will likely become my decade away from pop culture. It’s been two years since I went to an indie concert series in the park. Now, my wife and I simply listen to our favorite songs from The Head and the Heart over and over on Spotify. I have probably seen five films in a theater in that same timeframe — and I am…er, I was a cinephile. Besides the SuperBowl, I can count on one hand the number of football games I’ve watched since my daughter was born. Why? Because baseball is more important.
No, but seriously, becoming a parent changes you in all the ways minimalism changes you; though much more comes from parenting. In either case, you have to ask yourself, Does this bring beauty into my life? Or, Does this have the potential to benefit or harm my child? Or, How will taking time for x, y, z thing affect my family?
My parents promoted the things they valued most. Their children. They removed anything that was a distraction. That’s why my dad didn’t know all the words to every single song I thought he should. That is why I couldn’t figure out what my mom’s “thing” was. I was too close to the situation. My siblings and I were her “thing.” We were our parent’s passion and their obsession and their motivation.
Whether they knew it, or not, in many ways, my parents have been minimalists for 32 years. And whether I had chosen minimalism before I was ever called daddy, I believe I would have found it anyway.