The Bittersweet Story of Parenting


The Toyota delivered 2 out of 3 of my babies down the gravel drive a couple weeks ago. Exhausted and laden with dirty laundry, appetites and stories, we gathered them gratefully in.

After a few weeks of rest and a slow devolving into routines of the past, they are abruptly gone again.

Bitter and sweet. From start to finish, parenting requires a mouth full of both.

I found this slightly blurry too far away picture on my phone this week. I’ve zoomed in and tried to sharpen it up. I’ve played around with all the filters. It makes me so happy to see us hanging out like ducks in a row and at the same time I’m frustrated because I know the picture could have been better. And I can’t go back.

It’s not perfect yet it reflects the one word that encompasses my job as parent, in one strong wave of mixed emotion. The most sweetly bitter experience of my life.


We deliver our children into this world in a blur of excited pain. They become inextricably woven into our story. For decades. And then life requires us to redeliver them over and over into their own stories. The excitement of it no less painful than the day we first met them.

As parents, with each hello and goodbye, we are left with the gaping holes and frayed edges of story separation. All the changes coming to their lives force us to make our own. Such a bittersweet inevitability.

So what’s there to do but go into a mother’s default setting. I load them up with fresh laundry, restock their vitamins and coffee and deodorant, and make sure they have haircuts and a few extra pounds, until all that’s left is celebration and mourning wrapped up in one casual goodbye.

He gives and takes away in a thousand different ways.

So the story goes.

9 thoughts on “The Bittersweet Story of Parenting

  1. Wow. You captured my thoughts/feelings of the past few days perfectly. Thank you for that. So bittersweet yet inevitable. We raised them to have their own stories!

  2. Bitter……sweet. Exactly. {big exhale} Beautifully said just as you beautifully live. {big exhale, again}. Excited to see the new stories, but that little pierce in my heart………

  3. I am still reeling from launching first son this August, and with January’s arrival, am in the year that second son will fly the nest. WHY did I do this two-in-a-row-leaving-home thing to myself?? But I am loving watching first son soar–I guess that is the salve. However,
    he has grown accustomed to my hugging him with tears in my eyes and dripping down, and then we both laugh at me. I guess tears and laughter are the bitter/sweet! Wonderful words, Kel!

  4. And after many years, how well I remember my three leaving for college and the emptiness I felt.
    So now in our old age, we have our own story and when the two shall come together, the chatter
    is loud and strong, but we love every bit we can get. Loved your written words, Kelli.

Your Words Matter, Comment Kindly

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.