Defining Parenthood

Defining Parenthood

Sometimes I have really long commutes to work. Like, an hour and half each way (plus a 12hr shift, but who’s counting?). And a part of me really enjoys that quiet time. Sometimes I just drive along reveling in complete silence, because silence is so rare in my life. And sometimes I listen to the radio. Today was a radio day and the question was asked, what was the defining moment when you realized you were a parent?

While I was listening to people respond, mostly to the tune of  ‘when I pick up the pacifier and pop it in my mouth to clean it’ or ‘when I wipe my child’s nose with my bare hands’ (a tad cliched, but 100% true) it got me to thinking if I had a defining moment that made me realize, holy buckets, I am a parent.

I mentally scrolled through the past three years that I’ve held the title mom. Was it the birth of my first born child, our first experience with NICU, our second experience with NICU? Was it the first time I stayed up all night rocking a crying baby or when I realized a night in with my family was far more appealing than any night out on the town?

And while each of these moments certainly bear the mark of parenthood, I’m not sure that any of them were singularly defining for me. At least not in the sense that it made me say ‘Ok, well now I am a parent’.

Rather, for me, the realization of being a parent has been a series of revolving bittersweet punches to the gut.

Especially since most of the time I still walk around feeling like I’m 12. Like I don’t really have a mortgage to pay, a career I spent 7 years studying for, or groceries to buy. Sometimes it’s like I’m pretending to play grown up and pretty soon my mom will tell me it’s time for dinner.

Except, now I’m the mom yelling for my family to come eat.

And it hits me, slowly then all at once, I am a mother. And the hits keep coming. From the first time I held my child, to that first fever, or fall, or belly laugh. With each new first I realize all over again that I am a parent.

That somehow (sometimes even inconceivable to me) I have arrived at a point in my life where I have little people, actual tiny humans, that depend on me. For everything.

So you see, I don’t have one defining moment that it really sunk in that I’m a parent. But all it takes are some chubby little arms around my neck to bring memories of the past three years flooding back, and then I can’t breathe. Because the enormity of those memories hits me like a ton of bricks and I realize all over again, how lucky I am to be their mother.

And then you have those less than perfect moments. Like this. You know, where your kids refuse to smile and all you wanted was just one nice family picture? Is that really so much to ask?

But in the years to come, I’ll still look back on these photos and they’ll still take my breath away.

{AMPD} Nellis 013 copy

{AMPD} Nellis 062 copy {AMPD} Nellis 058 copy {AMPD} Nellis 044 copy {AMPD} Nellis 026 copy

  I guess we did get a couple smiles from Matthew 😉




About Amanda

I’m a Minnesota mama of three, wife of one, and human to our 4 legged canine friends Charlie and Jack. I’m a lover of all things DIY, coffee with cream, summer nights at the lake and good craft beer.


  1. Well said! I’ve often thought about what my answer is to this question as well, and I really don’t have a defining moment. All I know is I am a mom, I love being a mom, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You have a beautiful family!

  2. These photos are beautiful! Your children are so cute! Thank you for partying with us at Idea Box!

  3. Great post! I’ll have to think about my defining moments, but I think it will be more like you, lots of little moments that all combine. :)
    Leia @ Eat It & Say Yum recently posted…On Display Thursday #37My Profile

  4. Beautifully written!!
    Ann @ The Clumsy Wife recently posted…Spring Birthday Gift Ideas for Him & HerMy Profile

  5. So beautiful! I often have moments where I look at my sisters and friends and think, “Whoa, you’re a parent.” I am with you on the feeling 12 thing, though. Even if I can’t relate to the parenthood epiphanies :)
    Thanks for joining us at Idea Box! I hope you link up with us again this week–the party starts Thursday at 6am ET!
    C. Lem ( recently posted…Choose Your Own Adventure: March Recap & April goalsMy Profile

  6. Beautifully written! I remember clearly the moment I realized that I was the parent. My oldest son was two weeks old, and my mom was staying with us to help me out after the C-section. She was holding him, but he was inconsolable. Then, she handed him to me, and I thought to myself, “What? If you can’t make him cry, how can I?” But, as soon as I held him, he calmed down. I realized that he knew me as his mother, and that made me a parent. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.
    Sarah@TheOrthodoxMama recently posted…Our Top 5 Orthodox Children’s BooksMy Profile

    • What a beautiful story Sarah! Isn’t it amazing how our babes know their mama right from the start? It’s a pretty amazing feeling!

  7. What a sweet reveal of your heart – LOVE this post! We recently moved to Tennessee, but that wasn’t my or my husband’s plan. We were living in Vegas and frequently visited Utah to hike and we loved the scenery. We were initially planning to move there, until it hit us. That move was what we wanted and what was good for us, but not for our kids. Tennessee is right between both families and with aging grandparents (one fighting cancer) we knew that the decision wasn’t about us, it was what was best for them.

    So we decided to move back to family and what a great decision it was! We’ve seen family more in this first year back than the entire 7 years in Vegas. Our kids beg to spend their birthdays with family and we finally feel like we’re home. That idea of Utah is a distant memory, and it feels kind of foolish now, but that was our big parenting moment for me.
    Jen @ Noting Grace recently posted…Farmhouse Style Table Makeover for $20 – How we did it and mistakes to avoid!My Profile

    • Oh thank you so much Jen and what an amazing story. What a wonderful feeling to feel ‘home’. Our goal is to move closer to family before my oldest start kindergarten and I’m just praying it will happen!

  8. Wonderful post Amada! Enjoy every single age and stage that they are in! I can tell you that even when they are grown it is the same wonderful feeling! Pride , love , devotion.
    Lory xo
    Lory recently posted…Feather Your Nest Friday Link Party #10My Profile

    • Thank you Lory! I look so forward to the future and watching my children grow, I can’t imagine that feeling of pride, love and devotion ever leaves!

  9. Your post gave me goose bumps, Amanda! I couldn’t agree more with what you said. It’s all of the little moments added up (the good and the bad) that make us parents. Oh, and the photos are beautiful!! :)
    Blair @ The Seasoned Mom recently posted…Lightened-Up Blueberry Coffee CakeMy Profile

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