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When they said ‘parenting is hard,’ this isn’t what I thought they meant

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 (for me) birth and zero postpartum depression. Let me proclaim—I know how lucky I am.

But today, as I dropped my son off at daycare—my heart broke a little, again, like it does every time.

And I finally realized, this is the hard part they were talking about.

We’ve decided to switch daycare centers. 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 his daycare today nearly in 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 that I can with him 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. 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 daycare centers. I mean it sounds silly even typing it out. But I guess this is just part of the hard stuff.

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 30’s, 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.


This article was originally published on The Sweet Life with Ericka.


Ericka Andersen Sylvester lives in Indianapolis, Indiana and is mom to a one-year-old boy, Jacob. She works for National Review magazine and runs the blog, The Sweet Life. You can find her on Instagram and Snapchat at @Ericka81.

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