If you’re a parent, you can fill in the blank mighty easily. Life will be easier when…
…he can sleep through the night.
…she can feed herself.
…he can tell us where it hurts.
…she goes to school.
…he makes it to the NBA and buys me a ginormous house in Hawaii.
This is a diabolical game that Adultitis likes us to play, because it gets us wishing away time, distracts us from the present, and keeps us focused on the negative.
Of course, this pastime is not exclusive to parenthood. We can do it our whole life if we’re not careful. As in, “Life will be easier when I graduate, when I get that promotion, when I move to that new apartment, when the kids move out, when I finally retire…” and on and on. Then one day you wake up, wondering where the time went and yearn for the “good old days.”
Notice how nobody ever acknowledges the good old days when they’re living in them?
No doubt about it, certain aspects of life DO get easier as we move from stage to stage. What’s easy to forget is that a whole new crop of challenges and problems come with it. The reality is this: no matter what stage of parenting — or life, for that matter — you find yourself in, there are pleasant things and not so pleasant things about it. No exceptions.
The only people without challenges are taking up residence in the extended stay resorts called cemeteries.
My Dad told me that he and Mom used to look forward to the day when us kids were out on our own. “I assumed that we wouldn’t have to worry so much about you guys,” he said. “But then you all got married, and our family — and people to worry about — doubled. Now we have grandkids to worry about, too!”
Even though my brothers and I are self-sufficient and successful, we’ve all encountered various storms that come with life. Things that make diaper changing and carpooling seem like a walk in the park. Or as my Mom puts it: “When you have little people you have little problems. Big people have bigger problems.”
You know the answer. Instead of focusing on the negatives and waiting for things to get easier, the trick is to focus on the positive and appreciate the good things about your current situation. The stuff you’ll miss. There’s always something.
For instance, it IS easier now that my daughter can entertain herself for more than 7 seconds, but I already miss sleeping on the couch holding my little bundle of joy. She’s much too independent (and wiggly) for that now. Likewise, before buying a home last year, there weren’t a lot of things I liked about my old apartment. But living in Wisconsin, I always made a point to appreciate that I didn’t have to shovel snow.
If you find Adultitis urging you to pine for a time when things will get easier, use it as an opportunity to instead focus on something good about your current season of life.
Give yourself permission to relish the fact that you’re living in the good old days.
[This article was originally published over at Dad-O-Matic, a great site for Dads, by Dads.]