That First Dreaded Day As A Parent

I am a relatively new parent. My daughter will be two in September, but let’s be honest – being a parent means learning a lot of new things in a quick amount of time. It isn’t an easy gig, but probably the most joyful, rewarding thing I can think about doing.

My daughter and wife on a chilly Spring morning.

There are a lot of moments, planned and unplanned, that you dread as a parent. There are a lot of moments that you don’t look forward to and when it finally comes, it was just as upsetting and saddening as you thought it would be.

For instance, I knew the first tough day for my wife as a mother was going to be the day she had to go back to work after her maternity leave. She’d been home with our daughter, loving every minute of putting her career to the side and just being…mom.

For me, I was lucky that my employer gave me ten paid days to stay home for paternity leave, so I was sad when that leave ended and I had to go back to work, but at that point, our daughter was still so attached to mommy that she needed her more than she needed me.

There are also unplanned scares that are going to come.

One night, early on, we put our daughter to bed but were awoken a few hours later to her coughing, screaming, and choking. We rushed her to the hospital to discover she had RSV, a horrible respiratory infection that takes over pretty quickly. I had to hold her down while the nurse placed the breathing mask over her face. It is still probably the hardest night I’ve had of being a parent.

But, putting those unplanned sick nights and accidents to the side. I’ve learned today what one of the hardest things as a parent to do is…

To say goodbye that first day you drop your son or daughter off at daycare.

We were so lucky to have my mom to watch her the first year and a half, but my mom moved back to Arizona, and now it was time to get her into daycare. It was time. We knew that. She had an opportunity to play with new friends and enjoy the perks of child development.

I wasn’t even worried that she was going to get hurt, or sad, or anything like that. I am sure she will get a cut or scrape from time to time, and she is going to be sad during this transition phase – I got all that.

So, why was I worried? Because I was just going to miss her. My wife and I were spending every single day with our daughter and because of COVID and the pandemic, it was more time than we originally thought it would be. So, because of quarantining and everything being closed, we spent over five months at home every day with our little one, so when the day came for us to drop her off…it was rough.

There was maybe a two minute period when tears fell from my eyes. Let me tell you this – I AM A CRYER…but today I didn’t cry much at all. But I felt numb. I felt empty. I wanted to go back and get her so many times and just hang out with her, read books, and play games. I wanted to watch the AWFUL things on Youtube and Netflix that she loves. I missed the crap out of her.

But we made it through day one…hopefully, it will get easier for me tomorrow…I fear it won’t though because she did “50/50” today at daycare. She was happy and then sad that mommy wasn’t there, and then happy again, and then said (she never mentioned daddy). So, when we take her tomorrow, I’m sure she’s aware we are going to leave her there and she’s going to have a tough time.

But such is life. We will get through it, and learn to cherish (more than we already do) every second we have with our daughter and our family.

Such is life.

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