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Slices of Life: Parenting - It's so hard
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It is hard waiting for them to get here because waiting is never easy. And this bout of waiting is the longest 10 months of your life, even though everyone claims it's only nine. Once you've been there and done the math, you know the truth and the truth is often hard.

It is hard when they don't sleep through the night because that means you don't sleep through the night and day comes anyway and you are tired.

It is hard when they are learning to walk and you can't always catch them so they tumble and fall and hit their chin on the edge of the coffee table and then they are hurt and they cry. You run to hold them and rock them and realize you are crying too.

It is hard when they walk up the steps of the kindergarten bus for the first time - with a backpack nearly as big as they are, and you stand on the sidewalk watching, wishing you could grab them and bring them home, but knowing you can't and shouldn't.

It is hard when they miss the bus or catch a cold. It is hard when they are the first dropped from the roster or the last picked for kick ball. It is hard watching them struggle, even though you understand struggles are a necessary part of life.

It is hard helping them with homework after about third grade - especially in the subjects of math, English, social studies, science, geography, history and any foreign language.

It is hard when they make mistakes and the best thing for you to do is not rescue them, because that would be the easy way out and would hurt them in the long run.

It is hard when their friends become smarter than you - or so they think.

It is hard on their first day of high school, because when you go to high school you are almost a grown up and you never thought they'd ever be that old.

It is hard the first time they back down the driveway in the family vehicle with a brand-new driver's license in their pocket. On second thought, that's not hard; it's terrifying.

It is hard when they are out late past your normally wimpy parental bedtime and you try to wait up but your eyelids droop and you fall asleep despite your best efforts because you are tired.

It is hard on the last first day of high school because last first days are mostly always hard.

It is hard on the final last day of high school because this means they are no longer almost a grown up, but a full-fledged one and that is even more terrifying then having them drive a car.

It is hard when they move into a place of their own and you help them, which requires hoisting a heavy futon up three flights of stairs because the building doesn't have an elevator.

It is hard to drive away after you have finished helping move all their things into the new space. It is a quiet ride home without them. It's a quiet that has never felt so heavy.

It is hard, walking by their empty bedroom on the way to your own, knowing you can crawl under the covers whenever you want with the guaranteed privilege of being able to sleep through the night if you desire.

It is hard when you wake up in the middle of the night and remember rocking them when they were tiny and they smelled of diapers and baby wipes.

It is hard, this role - this gig, this calling - that we love nearly as much as life itself. This mom-and-pop job, which defines us and is one of the best things ever to come into our small corner of the world. It is hard, caring so much, loving so deeply.

Parenthood is hard. But is it good. No, it is eons beyond good. It is immeasurably, infinitely and incomprehensibly great. It is hard. But easy is for wimps - except at bedtime.

- Jill Pertler's column appears Thursdays in the Times. She can be reached at