You hear it all the time — being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have. I always thought that meant hard in terms of the physical hard: the lack of sleep, the temper tantrums, the dirty diapers, the whining, the messes.
I didn’t know that would be the easy part.
I took to motherhood very smoothly. Effortless pregnancy (aside from first trimester hellacious nausea), perfect birth and zero post-partum depression. Let me proclaim — I know how lucky I am.
But today, as I dropped my son off at daycare and my heart broke a little like it does every time, I realized this is the hard part they were talking about.
We’ve decided to switch daycares. Tomorrow is his last day at the old one. And of course in the last two weeks, he’s started going right into his teacher’s arms from mine. No more crying when I leave or clinging to my legs. His naps started going well recently too. All in the weeks before we make the big switch.
And for some reason I left daycare today nearly tears thinking I’d made the wrong decision. His teachers are sad he is leaving. What if he misses them? What if he doesn’t like the new daycare? Why am I not staying at home and taking care of him myself everyday? Why am I not spending every minute with him I can because one day soon he’ll be walking out the door to first grade..and then leaving me for college. Okay, yeah, you can see how it gets very dramatic real fast.
Yesterday, I went to get him out of bed and realized he’d thrown up in the night and had been sleeping in the vomit. I felt so awful. Two days ago, a little girl hit him in the head and he looked at me like the world wasn’t what he thought it was, like “why would someone do that to me?”
Loving someone this much isn’t something I comprehended before he was born. It hurts to love someone this much. It creates a lot of fear and guilt and irrationality sometimes. Everything bad in the world seems 100x worse. I can’t watch movies or television in the same way anymore. I can’t read the news like I used to. I can’t forget about anything bad that ever happens to a child. I can’t stop from imagining unlikely scenarios that could hurt him.
And then I have to snap out of it and thank God he is healthy and happy. I think everyday of the mothers dealing with illnesses or ANYTHING health related whatsoever regarding their children. I think about how it’s unfair to them for me to cry in Starbucks today about switching daycares. I mean it sounds silly even typing it out. But I guess this is just part of the hard. And I am a little worried of being judged getting upset about something trivial.
But I’m a Mom and things that I couldn’t ever have imagined being hard before are hard now. And maybe next week it will be easier. And in a few years, I’ll forget about how hard it was to decide something about daycare. But there will be a new hard and I wonder if even when your kid’s in their 30s, it’s still hard sometimes.
Diapers are the easy part. It’s the love that makes it the best and hardest, the scariest and the most beautiful. Of course I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
My oldest is 23, the others are 20, 17 & 10. I can tell you for certain, that daycare is easier than Kindergarten; Kindergarten is easier than middle school; middle school is harder than high school; high school graduation WILL make you cry and sending/taking them to college is the best worst day of your life. That first paycheck from a real job is like nothing else to them & you. And if, at 17 he asks you for permission to early enlist so that he can go to basic between junior & senior years, you will be proud and a little scared, and uncertain what to do. Like me, today.
Oh man…everything makes me cry! Thanks for your wisdom and insight 🙂 Thank you for reading.
Your post made me reflect on my own experiences. My children are 42 and 38. Circumstances change – the depth of love doesn’t – other than it grows as more life experiences are added. The vulnerability never ends . . . . Your children will grow up and probably get married, and then you will likely have grandkids – and that’s a whole new level of love and hope and worry. That heart-warming and heart-wrenching love you feel for your children and then your grandchildren makes you exquisitely vulnerable and makes you keenly aware of how fragile our lives truly are – but that love is also what makes life worth living. When my kids were little I swore to treasure those moments as much as possible – and I did – but it still went by way too quickly! I remember crying as we drove away after leaving my daughter at college the first time. Years later, I stood outside the hospital room listening attentively for the cry of my daughter’s first child – my first granddaughter – and when I heard it, I again burst into tears. More years later I stood outside another hospital room and cried as that same granddaughter suffered horribly from complications from cancer treatment. I would’ve taken it ALL for her if there had been any way possible – but there wasn’t. I could only love her through it. This thing called love is an emotional roller coaster! I recently babysat my youngest granddaughter – age 3 – and I rocked her and sang to her before bed knowing that such tender sweet moments will be rarer as she grows up and becomes more independent. 🙂 My oldest granddaughter (the cancer fighter), almost age 16 now, will soon get her drivers license, and while I know she loves me, her world is mostly about her friends right now. Well – friends and relapse cancer treatments. Still, we occasionally have tender moments together – not rocking her to sleep anymore (ha ha) but heart to heart talks and such. No great point to this comment – just acknowledging how time keeps moving forward – and how the tenderness and vulnerability and aches continue and change over time.
Thanks for commenting so thoughtfully. I really appreciate you reading and giving me your wonderful wisdom and insight. I have followed your granddaughter’s journey through cancer on Facebook — breaks my heart but she seems SO strong and courageous. I have prayed for her and she is lucky to have you as a grandma!
Oh, honey…I’m so sorry you’ve joined this club, but yes: THIS is what is hard. I have two girls, so I worry about them being kind to others. About what they’ll think and say about their bodies. About them loving their teachers more than they love me and then, about them not liking their teachers at all. I worry that they won’t get invited to parties or that they’ll like a boy (or girl) and not get liked back. I worry every day that they’ll remember the times I lost my temper and not the times that I let them snuggle in my bed before school. It never ends. But I think that worry is what makes me a good mom. If I didn’t stress about it…if I didn’t care…that would concern me more.
Thanks Katy. I totally agree — and I see all the other kids at daycare and wonder if all the other moms doing drop off feel the same way. I guess everyone is different — some people will struggle with other aspects of parenting that I don’t. But yeah, I’m already thinking about how hard it will be for ME when he gets left out or made fun of for some reason. Things I never thought about before being a Mom. The best thing about putting it out there is that people speak back to you and make you know you’re not alone.