The Bittersweet Privilege of Being a Parent

The Bittersweet Privilege of Being a Parent

As far as I can remember, bittersweet was a word I seldom used or thought of before becoming a mum. It just didn’t apply to the events in my life all that often. But parenting seems to be full of bittersweet moments. It’s almost as though the two go hand in hand.

Our youngest will be turning one in just a few short weeks (how did that happen?!). In the lead up to the event I noticed that my anticipation and excitement have been tinged with a little sadness. The reason? I’m happy that she’s growing up AND I’m sad that she’s growing up!

As with every milestone my daughters have reached, it’ll be bittersweet for sure. And it’s got me thinking about just how many bittersweet moments we experience as parents. We want them to grow up and gain independence, but it’s also scary to think that so many precious moments are speeding by.

I’ve been a mom for just over four years, but have already lost count of the times that I’ve felt this way.

Here are a few of the most notable for me. Perhaps you’ll be able to relate?!

The Infant Milestones

It’s amazing to think about how much our babies change in the first year of their lives. They go from being a helpless, immobile, delicate newborn, to a moving, babbling, rambuctious tot. We see their personalities emerge. We see their facial features change.

I’ve loved watching every milestone and try to document as many as possible (much to the annoyance of my family – too many photos!). But every one is also a stark reminder that they’ve moved on.

When they start walking, there’s so much more you you can do with them…. but you’ll also never again see that funny bum-wiggling crawl made you laugh so much. When they start talking, it’s wonderful to know what they’re thinking… but then of course they never stop 😉

It’s particularly poignant when it’s your last baby. All of the firsts are also lasts. The last first time trying solid food. Or the last first word.

I should probably stop here before I convince myself that we need to have another baby!


I vividly remember the day that my oldest daughter turned three. For some reason, that one hit me particularly hard.

She had gone off to school that day and I was home by myself working. To this day I’m not certain of exactly why, but the floodgates just opened and I just sat sobbing on the sofa like a madwoman. I think that it was a mixture of pride – she was developing into such a wonderful little person – and fear that she was growing up waaayyy too fast.

Later this month, when our littlest turns one, that will mark the end of our baby years. She’ll be a toddler. On the one hand, I’ll be breathing a sigh of relief. Somewhat self-serving I know, but I’m definitely ready to start the weaning process. More importantly though, she’ll start to engage more and more with the world around her, and that’s so much fun.

Even so, the first year is such a special and uniquely innocent time. And I’ll sure miss those baby snuggles.

Starting School

Since I work part-time, we enrolled my daughter into a pre-school on those days, shortly before she turned two. Again, it was a mixed bag in terms of my feelings on the matter.

The logical side of my brain knew that she’d be just fine, and that in many respects it would be a great experience for her (and she has of course flourished). There are benefits for me too – firstly I can actually get my work done while she’s at school! But I also get a little time to myself and a break from the rigors of parenting (school days are the only days I can ever finish a cup of tea).

However, the more emotional side of my brain feels guilty for sending her to school, even though I KNOW that she loves it! And as much as I enjoy my tea, I also miss her when she’s there.

I imagine that all parents feel this to some degree, regardless of the age at which our kids start school.

The Future

As I mentioned, I’m still relatively new to all of this. I’ve experienced so many bittersweet moments just in this short space of time, but I’m already thinking forward to how it will be as our daughters grow up.

First time on the school bus. First day of high school. High school graduation. Leaving home… OMG! Is there any major milestone we experience with our children that doesn’t feel a little bittersweet?

I take comfort in the fact that this is only the case because we care so much. And that’s the reason I used the word “privilege” in the title of this post, which it truly is to experience parenthood,

There may be times that we feel pride and sadness in equal measures, but overall, the sweet outweighs the bitter a hundred fold.

What’s been your most bittersweet moment as a parent?


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  • Reply Puppy Snuggles

    My wife is pregnant with our first child (due in April) and this post really made me even more excited for our little one. Thanks for this post!

    December 4, 2017 at 1:50 pm
    • Reply Polly

      It’s really such an amazing experience… congratulations to you and your wife!

      December 4, 2017 at 2:35 pm
  • Reply Denise

    awww this is such. a good read, I am a mom to an 11 months old too and I totally get everything you mentioned.

    December 4, 2017 at 3:25 pm
    • Reply Polly

      Thanks Denise, glad that you could relate!

      December 5, 2017 at 2:28 pm
  • Reply Cindy Henson

    We have five kids and with each one it was a little easier. Bittersweet is a good word to describe parenting since we have no clue what we are getting into when we start.You sound like a “sweet” mama!

    December 4, 2017 at 4:53 pm
    • Reply Polly

      Thank you so much Cindy! And yes it’s true… no clue at all!

      December 5, 2017 at 2:29 pm
  • Reply Austenne

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on parenting – “Bittersweet” is the perfect word for it! Also, your blog is beautiful!

    December 7, 2017 at 12:47 pm
    • Reply Polly

      Thanks Austenne! That is so kind of you 🙂

      December 8, 2017 at 7:49 pm

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