Why parenting is both the toughest and most rewarding gig .

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Parenting is an emotional rollercoaster.

One minute you're feeling the pure joy of hearing your child say "I love you". The next, you might find yourself in the emergency department, worried for a child with a sickness no doctor can diagnose.

When we asked you to tell us about the highs and lows of your parenting careers, we received an eclectic mix of responses. Parents love to talk about their kids!

Whether you've got children already, or are thinking about taking the plunge and are wondering what it might be like, these comments and stories will warm — and break — your heart.

The best bits

'It's OK mummy'

Anne-Marie Brownhill told us how her two-year-old helped her during a tough time.

"I was pregnant with my second baby and struggling with pelvic girdle pain, which had me using crutches and a wheelchair to get around," she says.

"I was crying on the couch one evening while my husband gave our two-year-old a bath.

"My daughter came out to me, wrapped in her towel. She saw me crying and hopped up on my knees.

'Daddy, I'm a fire-fiffer'

After a long day at work, coming home to your children can be the best medicine, writes firefighter Grant Tucker.

"I came home from work after 14 hours on the fire line. Juno, my two-year-old, looked at me and said, 'Hello Daddy, I'm a fire-fiffer'. She had a cardboard box on her head as a helmet."

Sibling love

For Renata Luhr, it was watching a tender moment between her son and daughter on the front steps at home.

"We have a three-year-old daughter and 14-month-old son who has started walking in the last couple of months," she says.

"One day last week, when my husband was getting them into the car to take them to day care, my daughter took her little brother by the hand and started helping him down the front steps of the house.

'What do ladybugs eat?'

Alesha Kilpatrick told us about the insatiable curiosity of her children — and their strange questions.

"For me, the best bit is my children's random questions and sense of humour. 'Mum, what do ladybugs eat?'"

'I am irreplaceable'

Ivana (who asked we don't use her surname) spoke about the boost that comes with hearing those three special words from children.

"When your kid climbs onto your lap, cradles your face in his little hands and whispers, "I love you, Mummy", while staring at you like you are the greatest wonder on the planet, it makes every moment of frustration, boredom and exhaustion worth it," she says.

"It's a reminder that, to my kids, I am truly and utterly irreplaceable — which is both an enormous responsibility and the greatest privilege of my life."

The hardest bits

Fear of losing your child

Sharon Denny with her son Patrick to depict the toughest and most rewarding parts of parenting.
Image Sharon Denny's son, Patrick, has had a number of health scares.(Supplied: Sharon Denny)

Sharon Denny nearly died in labour with her first child. At the time, her biggest fear — which she kept from her husband — was that she might not live to see her newborn son, Patrick.

"Through sickness and in health, the fear of losing your child can be so terrifying it's exhausting. The only thing worse than having to bury your child would be not being with them when they died," she says.

"Pat has had several autoimmune-related diseases.

"We had 12 days where no-one could diagnose what it was. That was one of the hardest moments."

'I had to learn from books'

Eva Wilhelm sits with her son to depict the toughest and most rewarding parts of parenting.
Image Eva Wilhelm with her son.(Supplied: Eva Wilhelm)

For Eva Wilhelm, mother of a 29-year-old, parenting didn't come easy.

She was forced to confront some things about herself after becoming a mother.

"I didn't have a role model of a successful parent in my life. I only knew that I needed to do everything differently, without frightening discipline and lots of love and praise. I had to learn from books," she says.

"I believe parenting is less about parenting than learning whatever you are meant to learn to be a better person."

'Casual judgement of strangers'

No-one likes feeling judged, but the sting is far worse when it's about your parenting, says Mark Carter.

"The casual judgement of ignorant strangers who think they have a right to rub your face in their big daft opinions. That grinds my gears."

When reality hits

When Amber Synnott found herself unexpectedly pregnant at 32, her first reaction was worry.

She had just come to terms with the idea of not having children. Then, she was overcome with an overwhelming sense of calm — one that wasn't shared by the people around her.

"All I can remember thinking was, 'Shit, this is real, but I've got this. My baby and I are a team'," she says.

"It was hard to fathom that others didn't share my tenacity. I was constantly told it would be tough, I wouldn't manage, I couldn't provide for the child, that I needed to consider my options.

"In my mind, there was no other option. This was the situation and we would be fine — and we are."

'Harder than I could have imagined'

Kiri Joyce-Griggs holds her young son in a park to depict the toughest and most rewarding parts of parenting.
Image Kiri Joyce-Griggs with her son, Jasper.(Supplied: Kiri Joyce-Griggs)

Kiri Joyce-Griggs became a mother seven months ago. She thought she'd prepared herself, but the first months have been tougher than she imagined.

"I always knew it would be hard — I was never one of those people who thought it'd be all breastfeeding on a lily pad, painting while the baby slept and playing joyfully in the sunshine," she writes.

"But this hard? I had no idea. The physical changes, the blow to your relationship and your friendships, the extraordinarily selfless kind of love that you have for this tiny person, and the sleep deprivation.

"Suffice to say, I haven't adjusted yet. I'll get back to you."

Thank you to everyone who shared their story with ABC Life. We loved reading them.