Adultitis is a chronic condition that plunders laughter, burns people out, and turns them into zombie-like doo-doo heads. It causes stress — lots of it. Sometimes it seems like stress and parenthood go hand in hand.
When my wife and I were expecting our first child, I was amazed at how many people came out of the woodwork to give us their advice and impressions on parenthood. Because I travel the country speaking to audiences about life balance and how to cure themselves from Adultitis, I opened myself up to many diverse points of view. More amazing than the sheer amount of opinion we received was the degree to which it varied.
After hearing our program, scores of people informed us that kids were the undisputed cause of Adultitis.
I remember the cab driver who told us that kids are not worth the investment because they grow up to hate you and wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take care of you when you get old. Considering this little gem came after he admitted he spent most of his time gambling and pretty much drank himself to sleep every night, I took his opinion with a grain of salt.
Other people offered the ever common, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Get as much sleep as you can!Ã¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“Enjoy your last days of freedom!Ã¢â‚¬Â or the always uplifting, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Your life is over.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Add to that mix the number of stern warnings about how certain foods or disciplinary techniques or sleeping schedules or brand of diapers can irreparably jack up your kid for life, and Kim and I were terribly concerned that this foray into parenthood was a colossal mistake.
But then I remembered an interview IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d heard with Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam, who said having his little girl made everything he did before her seem like a waste of time.
And after my talks, another type of people couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait to express their more optimistic take on parenthood. They shared things like, Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to love it!Ã¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“Becoming a parent was the greatest thing that ever happened to me!Ã¢â‚¬Â The happy gleam in their eye told me they were telling the truth.
These folks actually believed that having kids was the cure to Adultitis.
This strange dichotomy alerted us to the fact that something was up. How could perfectly normal-looking people (cab driver excluded) come up with such differing opinions on this subject? Who was right?
The truth is, they both are. But the phenomenon of encountering such a varied spectrum of opinion led me to believe that Adultitis has nothing to do with the kids. Instead, the sentiments revealed said everything about the person sharing it.
Certainly, parenthood is filled with all sorts of unappealing elements: stinky diapers, a smaller bank account, bigger worries, and yes, less sleep (among other things.) But you know what? Life without kids has its own share of headaches and inconveniences. Everybody deals with challenges, frustrations, and bad days. Every day, stupid stuff happens thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s out of our control. How we react to them is up to us.
I decided before my daughter Lucy was even born that I was going to accept the bad sides of parenting as part of the job, but I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to dwell on them. Instead, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d focus on appreciating the little things, realizing that the whole process would go by in the blink of an eye. I vowed to take advantage of the opportunity to see life though the new eyes of my little girl, and maybe recapture some of the joy and curiosity that I might have lost on my own journey. I decided to remain in the present, enjoying each and every stage of her development, without getting caught up in the trap of thinking, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Life will be better when she can: sleep through the night / sit up on her own / feed herself / go to school / drive her own car to the mall.Ã¢â‚¬Â That game leads to nothing but regret over missing out on the little moments along the way.
I fully expected that having Lucy would be the beginning of a new and wonderfully exciting adventure. So far, I have been right.
So, are kids the cause of or the cure to Adultitis?
Turns out, the answer is entirely up to you.
Jason Kotecki is a dad who also moonlights as an artist, author, and professional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a former kindergarten teacher) make it their mission in life to fight Adultitis and help people use strategies from childhood to create lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com and follow them on Twitter @kimandjason