The Bittersweet Presence of Motherhood


I have an only child. Typing those words, I am reminded of my many dreams of having a house full of children. I have three siblings, and even though we have our moments (i.e., getting in texting feuds or sending passive-aggressive emails), I absolutely love that I have them in my life. I used to imagine that my future children would experience the same great joy of sibling-hood. In saying that, I am now beyond grateful, content, and at peace with our little family of three. While I have wrestled with the feelings associated with not having more children, I truly consider the one we have to be a gift – a gift worth my being present.

Being Fully Present

As mothers, many of us are constantly trying to be fully present in our motherhood. Most of us can relate to the sentiments that our children grow up too quickly and that we take too much of our time with them for granted. We scroll through old pictures or watch home videos late at night and shed tears over how small our babies were or how sweet their voices sounded. We read through their baby books and ashamedly struggle to recall their first words. We sit in rocking chairs and immediately remember the weight of their tiny bodies resting peacefully in our arms. We fold laundry and pause in amazement, wondering when their little onesies grew into mud-stained t-shirts. We watch them do things they once could not do for themselves and question how it is possible that they have already experienced so many of their “firsts.”

As the mother of an only child, this conviction to be fully present in my motherhood hits me right in the gut. Twice. Although we do not know what the future holds for our family, as of now, all of the “firsts” may also be “lasts.” Our first movie date, his first ice cream cone, the first day of kindergarten… They are all gone as quickly as they came, and though no one gets a do-over, I may never get the chance to do any of it ever again. Painful as it may be that I may not experience precious moments like these with another child, I am compelled to dwell not upon the bitterness of my motherhood passing me by. Rather, in realizing the brevity of motherhood, of life, I cannot help but surrender to the sweetness of each moment and give thanks for having experienced them at all.

And, despite the bitter, that taste of sweet is pretty darn good.

The Bitter and The Sweet

I look at this picture of my precious boy – no longer a baby, but a seven year old boy. I see how his little life has flown by and how much of it I have already spent full of guilt, fear, and anxiety. I see my failures to be fully present. I see my time as the mother of a little boy ending, and I see myself walking into a new season of motherhood. I see the bitter.

But, I also CHOOSE to see the sweet –  a boy who unashamedly loves his mother and trusts her to carry him. I see seven years of jokes, games, and laughter in our smiles. I see his hands growing to the size of mine, preparing to be hands that offer support to others. I see small seeds planted by inadequate parents who are grateful for the gift of parenthood. I see a child that has purpose. And, despite the bitter, that taste of sweet is pretty darn good.

Contributing Author

About {Crystal}

Crystal lives with her husband, Nicholas, and their son, Fox, in a rural town in Louisiana. She is a city-girl living the country life! Crystal and Nicholas have been married since 2006 and were pleasantly surprised that God blessed them with their first and only child in 2009 (on Black Friday). She is currently a graduate student at LSU, studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and she works part-time as a hairdresser to keep her creative juices flowing.