"My reaction still surprises me to this day." 27 mums on the parenting moments that hurt the most.

This week, my dear 11-year-old son decided that he no longer wanted any of his soft toys in his bed. He has been actively pulling away from 'childish' things for some time, but he has kept this core group of three loved 'cuddlies' in bed. 

He gathered them up without ceremony and immediately re-homed them with his younger brother, who was happy to take them. Meanwhile, I had to hide in the bathroom to get my emotions under control. 

It probably sounds quite ridiculous to non-parents that the sudden demise of a soft dog, a seal, and a badger, could reduce a grown woman to tears, but they all have stories woven into our family life. 

I sewed the badger as a heavily pregnant woman in 'nesting mode' and proudly put it in his crib before I went into hospital. The seal we bought on a family trip to Taronga Zoo when he was about four years old, and the dog was a more recent gift from Santa before he stopped believing. 

I remember having similar feelings about my childhood toys as a tween and wanting to hurry up and grow up. I likely put my mum through the same thing and I know it is completely normal as kids get older. 

Watch: The Mamamia team on what they would tell their 15-year-old selves. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

But the delicate balance of wanting our kids to grow up and do awesome things with their lives while wishing they could stay little and cuddly forever, is tough. 

It got me thinking about the other unexpected parenting moments that break our hearts, make us laugh, or swell with pride. So, I asked our Mamamia parenting community to tell me their stories. Here are 26 of the best.

1. "When my daughter was about 15 years old, I reminded her I’d pick her up from school to take her to an orthodontist appointment and she said, "It’s okay, I can go by myself." I was so proud of her independence but I sobbed like a baby after the phone call as I didn’t know what my parenting job was anymore. It was like all my responsibilities that I secretly loved were ripped from under me, leaving me feeling useless, and I had not seen that coming." Kala


2. "My son told me recently that I do not need to 'hover' when he hurts himself, and that he will let me know when the pain is unmanageable! What is going on with this touchy guy and his 'I am grown up' attitude?" Raquel. 

3. "I remember my son's first day of Year Two. I dropped the kids off and my girls gave me a kiss one-by-one and my son refused saying, 'It's too embarrassing to kiss my mum!'" Danni.

4. "I was so sad when my son didn't want me to sing him songs at bedtime." Nat.

5. "Today my son said I sounded 'like a Karen' because I used the word Mohican instead of Mohawk. Ha!" Becca.

6. "My eldest daughter recently asked me not to call out 'I love you' anymore when I drop her off at dancing because her friends laugh at her." Eden.

7. "It hurts my soul when I ask my two kids (age 12 and 15) if they want to come on a bike ride, walk, or go to the beach and they say they would rather stay at home. I can tell they feel bad for saying no and I'm sure I look hurt. To avoid all this, I schedule it in instead of asking and I tell them they can hide at home afterwards!" Samantha.

Listen: Hosts Andrew Daddo and Holly Wainwright talk about some of their most embarrassing parent fails. Post continues below.

8. "I remember the moment that for my daughter’s last breastfeed, she’s waved 'bye-bye' to my boobs!" Hannah.

9. "One evening, I got my little man out of the bath and he was in the lounge room in his towel staying warm in front of the heater, while I packed up the bathroom. I went back into the lounge room and he’d gotten himself dressed, all on his own, with no help at all. I was so proud, but was also wondering where my baby had gone!" Kara.

10. "My eldest offered to go back to school a week early as his kindy-aged brother was so upset about walking into school on his own. He carried his bag and held his hand so he would feel happy about going to school. It made me realise just how compassionate he is even when within the next 10 minutes, they were hitting each other!" Emma.

11. "I remember the moment I broke my dad. Dad used to always lean over and hug and kiss me on cheek when he did the school drop off and I told him to stop because it was embarrassing. I still feel bad about it now at age 38." Asten.

12. "My daughter is just seven years old and a couple of months ago when I dropped her off school, we usually kiss and cuddle before going inside, but this time she just said, 'Bye, can I go by myself?'" Fei.


13. "When my son lost his first tooth at four years old. I was so upset, but I also knew we needed to celebrate growing up so we created a 'tooth day' celebration!" Kristin.

14. "The moment I was not prepared for was when my youngest son was aged 15. He was going away with the army cadets and needed to take his Medicare card with him. I went to Medicare office and requested an additional card. The woman advised me they only permitted us to have two cards issued in the same number and my older son already had this additional card. She said that we would need to apply for my younger son to have his own Medicare number. I can still remember the overwhelming emotion and fighting back tears whilst providing the required information to the woman. I was completely not prepared nor ready for this kind of separation. I realise how ridiculous this sounds, and my reaction still surprises me to this day. It's the little moments that are the big things." Ann.

15. "My heart broke the day my son started high school. We went to the first assembly as they invited parents. I sat there and cried the whole way through (he is an only child) and when he got up to leave assembly to go to his first class, he didn't even look to wave goodbye. I was shattered. It was more emotional than the first day I dropped him off at crèche. He actually graduated from Year 12 today. Unfortunately, I was not able to go due to COVID restrictions, but I probably would have cried today too." Sharon.

16. "When my son said he wouldn't be spending Christmas with us because his girlfriend wanted to spend all the Christmas break with her family, my heart broke into a lot of pieces. They haven't been dating long and yet this is the second year that they have done this - I am feeling very redundant." Kate.

17. "My son is 15 and there are so many moments. Every time he clears out his room and discards once precious treasures, my heart breaks. I asked to borrow his deodorant the other day (I was desperate!) and he said he would rather I didn’t as he didn’t want it touching my arm pit. I childishly reminded him that I grew him in my body!" Amy.

18. "I felt so sad when my son turned 13 years old and I had to shop in the 'menswear' section for his clothes and shoes." Belinda.


19. "My only child is eight years old, and every milestone is hard. My mum was diagnosed with cancer when he was just seven months old and we lost her when he was 18 months old. Every birthday, starting kindy, school, joining a sports group, school concert and even growing taller. It all brings tears to my eyes, knowing his Nanna isn't here to share in our joy of watching him grow up to be a fine lad." Kim.

20. "When my 10-year-old said he didn’t need to take 'woofer' on a sleepover for the first time." Madeleine.

21. "Not knowing that breastfeed would be the last one ever. It was a big deal for me. After years and years of IVF, miscarriages, every medical, naturopathic, alternative, lifestyle alteration known to man, and neither birth going the way I’d hoped, being able to breastfeed both my babies was huge. The first I fed until he was one, and the second I got to feed even longer, thanks to a well-timed redundancy. But unfortunately a serious back issue sent me to hospital by ambulance for some morphine and surgery. Apparently morphine and boob milk are not a good combo so bye-bye breastfeeding, hello super sore boobs! The cherry on the cake was that my baby was so freaked out by my absence, he refused to come near me in hospital and took a while to rebuild the bond, as I wasn’t allowed to lift him for three weeks. Thankfully five years on we’re all good!" Laura.

22. "When this week it took me half an hour to change one dirty nappy because my two-year-old outright refused, all while my six-month-old refused to be put down! It was a definite if you don’t laugh you’ll cry moment." Sophie.


23. "I feel so sad that (my kids') biological mother is holding on so much to the past that she is saying negative things to them so that the youngest is now 'scared' of our house. It's heartbreaking to see how it hurts my partner. Instead of uplifting the kids with strength and enabling them to feel strong with their life changes, they are setting up the kids with fear. It's heartbreaking." Ashlee.

24. "My six-year-old telling me at the beginning of pre-primary that I wasn’t getting a kiss at school drop-off because, 'I don’t want my friends to see how much I love you'. Heartbroken." Cassandra.

25. "When I brought my newborn home from the hospital, I was so worried about how my two-and-a-half-year-old would react. We doubted he had much understanding of what was going on. When we introduced them, he immediately ran off to her room, got a stuffed toy, and gave it to her. I just sat and cried. He knew she was here to stay." Amy.

26. "I want to share something positive. My son is 19 and every morning before he leaves for work, he comes into our room, kisses me and says, 'l love you'. It makes my day, every day." Virginia.

Have you experienced a bittersweet parenting moment you want to share? Please tell us in the comments below.

Feature Image: Getty.

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