Redditors Share the Moment Parenting Became 'Worth It' to Them

"My 9-year-old is a somewhat enjoyable human now but holy sh*t was it touch and go there for a while."

An image of a mom cuddling with her daughter.
Photo: Getty Images.

Being a parent can feel like a thankless job. The responsibility, stress, and sleep deprivation reach levels you never even thought possible before. Even with all that, though, it can be one of the most life-changing and rewarding things you could possibly do.

But when, exactly, do those super fulfilling moments start happening? When does parenting really become "worth it"? That's exactly what this Reddit parent wants to know.

"When do the rewarding and worth it parts kick in?" u/OoklaIsMyHomeboy questioned in the Parenting subreddit. "Because I'm 6+ years deep and daily tantrums and 6 am wake-ups and no free time of my own and my non-existant [sic] social life and lack of my own friends is really beating me down. I'm not seeing any of these supposed rewards I was promised."

As some Redditors were quick to point out, some of the original poster's (OP) issues—temper tantrums, no real free time, a lack of a social life—actually can be worked on. Clear boundaries, reaching out to trusted friends or family for help, and setting yourself and your needs first some of the time can make the world of a difference. But things like 6 a.m. wakings and feeling less independent once you have a child? Par for the course.

Putting some of OP's bigger issues aside, parents can relate to those overwhelming feelings of stress and fatigue—at least some of the time. There's no downplaying how hard being a parent can be. The good days can be so, so good, but the bad days? Watch out. Between sleep regressions, new developmental milestones, the so-called "terrible twos," and cranky kids testing boundaries, it's not easy to go through the ups and downs of parenthood.

And there will be ups and downs. Reddit parents shared what finally made it all "worth it" to them or when they truly saw some light at the end of the tunnel. Here are some of the best responses.

Some parents gently reminded the OP that most of the things that exhaust us while parenting from the trenches are temporary: "We do have 2 neurotypical kids, but they came after many miscarriages so I know my gratitude in having them at all can tint my view of parenthood," u/justkeepscrollingdown replied to the OP.

"I'm not saying this to piss off any overtired parent, but if those about to become parents are reading that it really isn't all stress and tiredness. So many things are a phase and that phase passes. Your kids telling you how much they love you and smiling up at you is wonderful," they continued.

Redditor u/b-parker-balls added, "My 9-year-old is a somewhat enjoyable human but holy sh*t was it touch and go for a while..."

Those moments of exhaustion can feel all-encompassing for any parent, as u/harpsdesire pointed out, writing "My 3-year-old is often exhausting (and still doesn't sleep through the night, so I am constantly sleep-deprived), but [I] enjoy him as a person. We're still in the tantrum and demanding stage, which is normal at 3 but definitely annoying and draining. Sometimes I just long for one day without having to hear any demands or whining." But, they wrote, "He's creative, funny, clever, and sweet. Yesterday he said he loved me 116% percent. I'm not over here saying it's fun and rewarding all the time, but he's a great little human."

While the focus might be on how to survive the rough parts, others were quick to point out that it's not just the unpleasant parts that will be temporary, the sweet parts will be too.

"And it helps me to remember that each phase is temporary, the good and especially the bad. Their independence will grow, and you'll find more peace and freedom," wrote u/BuffBullBaby. "I don't expect rewards and validation from the kids. I find that in other areas, and in how I feel about my own parenting."

As many also commented that what's considered rewarding is really subjective. It could be a cuddle, a new memory or activity shared with your child, or the first time they say, "I love you."

"Well, what sort of rewards are you expecting?" u/BeccasBump asked. "They generally come in the form of things like sleepy snuggles or watching your child laugh themselves sick at a joke they thought up, or hearing their take on something and being blown away by the way they think, or even sharing their excitement when they get a new toy."

And finally, one user had some wise words to help the OP see that maybe the sweet things aren't always so easy to achieve or define:

"The rewards are usually sprinkled in, but I think it heavily depends on your situation on the child," u/bifff64gc wrote. "If you have a particularly difficult child or lack support then it will be harder to see the good through the bad. Snuggling with a baby doesn't mean much when you're sleep deprived and have no one else to take the load."

Even when the days are tough and long it's important to look on the bright side as much as you can or reach out for help if you're really feeling hopeless and down. Sometimes you won't realize that the moments that really make it all "worth it" are all around you—and you might just miss them one day.

But as for the tantrums or sleepless nights? Nah, not gonna miss those one bit.

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