Bittersweet Motherhood: When the End is the Beginning

“All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.”

-Mitch Albom from The Five People You Meet in Heaven

It’s been several years since I first encountered the above quote, but recently thought of it again as my five-year-old walked across the stage at his pre-K graduation.  I found myself feeling sad for the ending of his toddler years, but also excited to see the boy he is to become. I have found the quote to take on a whole new meaning as I became a parent.

Lately, I find myself excited as my kids grow and develop.  Yet, I mourn the end of their distinct childhood stages. It is an odd juxtaposition. I am crying because I am excited? How crazy is that? I think for me it is a spirit of gratefulness, but also a sentimental attachment to milestones and developmental stages.  I have found myself being sad recently with the realization that each of my three children are at very different stages. I would like to share three examples, one for each of my children.


It was May and my oldest baby just walked across the stage at his preschool graduation.  He had the biggest smile on his little face. He was proud but also excited for the next step–Kindergarten.  That week I found myself in a constant mix of happy and sad. That night and the last day of school, I cried. I cried because I was grateful for all of the people who helped him get to this milestone.  I mean, didn’t I just birth him? I cried because how can he possibly be old enough to be in Kindergarten? I cried because of my nerves for him as he embarks on this next step in his journey. I cried because I am so excited for him and what lies ahead.  

The End of the Toddler Years

My middle baby is potty-trained and is going to be in three-year-old preschool this fall.  All of a sudden she is not a baby anymore. She has a big personality and has thoughts about how she wants things.  She is no longer the sweet little baby she once was. She is now a sweet little girl with thoughts and a personality with the ability to tell us what she wants and needs.    

No Longer A Newborn

And last, but certainly not least, my youngest baby is sleeping all night and nearing the end of the baby stage as she creeps closer to her first birthday.  As crazy as this sounds, I loved those during-the-night feedings. I loved the times when our house was dimly lit and quiet and she and I would cuddle up in the recliner for her to nurse.  Yes, I am happy to have more sleep and I am happy that she is growing and progressing as she should. As the baby of the family, she is most definitely fighting for attention from her two older siblings.  Those night time feedings were a peaceful time for her and I to bond.

Bittersweet motherhood: when the end is the beginning

I have come to realize that motherhood is bittersweet. Everything is a phase.

While I know that growing, changing, and becoming more independent are all amazing milestones, it is also hard on my mama heart. You see, I am the mom who cries at just the idea of her kids not needing her as much anymore. As I get sad about a particular stage ending, I also get excited about what is to come for them.  That is the bittersweet part. However, when something ends, it just means that there is more room for my heart to swell with pride when they meet a milestone.

People have often told me to enjoy these early years because they go by so quickly. They are so right. My challenge for myself and for you, our readers, is to do your best to enjoy each day and live it to the fullest. As we all know, there will be those hard days. Make the exciting, fun, and amazing days outnumber the hard days.  And when you get down about a phase ending, just remember that a new beginning is starting. New and exciting and great things are ahead for you and your babies.


Brenda is an Iowa native who has lived in the Iowa City area since 2005. She is married to her love, Robert, since 2012. Brenda is an elementary teacher by trade. She spent almost nine years as a stay at home parent but is now back in the classroom spending time with her school kids and being a mom to her own kids. She is the mom of three; Gabe (April, 2013) Maggie (April, 2015), and Julianna (September, 2017). Brenda enjoys being active by running and working out. She also enjoys trying new recipes, volunteering, playing board and card games, and being involved in church. Brenda is an elementary teacher and loves cheering on the Cubs, UNI Panthers, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. It is a busy but beautiful life!


  1. I really enjoyed reading this, thank you! My daughter is 4 and my son is 18 months old and although I am excited to watch them grow, I find myself feeling sad at times because part of me wants to keep them young forever.

    • Thank you so much, Lisa!! This something so real and while I want my kids to reach their appropriate milestones, it makes me a little sad when they do. I feel you! Sending you a hug! 🙂


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