I remember being told motherhood is one of the most thankless jobs in the world: that I’d put in a ton of hours with no paycheck or gratitude to speak of. They said it would drain me of time, energy, and resources. And that I’d collapse into bed at night and wonder how I could do it all again in the morning. I’d say I agree with some of these sentiments—and though you don’t stand to gain much financially from being a parent, you’ll gain much more than you could ever ask for in the little moments. I’ve discovered the little wins throughout the day, ranging from the emotional to the hilarious, are what makes it all so incredibly worth it in the end. These are 17 moments I’m thankful for as a parent.
1. Breathing in milk breath. Is there anything as delicious as the smell of baby’s breath? There are flowers named after it, for goodness sake! That creamy and warm smell of your little one’s deep breaths as you snuggle them makes up for other less pleasant smells they produce throughout the day. Speaking of which…
2. When it’s just a fart. I find myself feeling grateful, thankful, and blessed when an atrocious smell coming from my kiddo is just a fart. I just changed her, after all—and better out than in, at any rate.
3. Watching your baby sleep. This moment is a win on so many levels. Not only is it insanely adorable to watch your sweet baby’s rhythmic breathing as they snooze peacefully, but you can finally watch big people TV and not share your snacks in peace at bedtime as well. Win-win, you see.
4. Going to sleep. Remember that whole “collapsing into bed” bit? Yeah, super thankful for that. Every day isn’t going to be the stuff of hearty family comedies, and those hard days make you very thankful for soft beds and cozy sheets.
5. Seeing your child experience something new. I’ve never been a big fan of the whole “never grow up!” thing people like to say to and about their children. Sure, I love that she’s still little—but when they learn something new every day and begin to develop their own personalities/likes/dislikes slowly? It’s pretty darn neat to see and experience.
6. Making your little giggle like a little maniac. Few sounds are better than a giggling baby or toddler. It’s infectious, it’s heartwarming, and it’s all that’s good in the world, trilling out in bursts of laughs and chuckles. I’m obsessed.
7. Finding out they enjoy something you love, too. Whether it’s cultural foods that make you swell with pride that they can share your tacos de lengua with you, or you find out they’re interested in your favorite hobby, too—it’s amazing to share your favorite things with your favorite people.
8. Working hard for your children. I am incredibly thankful my husband and I can work to provide for our girl—sometimes that looks like working from home, working in the home, or working outside of it—but I am thankful for time spent missing her but working towards our family goals.
9. When they let you cuddle them. Sweet baby cuddles are the best, but toddler cuddles? Earth-shaking. Toddlers are elusive and run about like ferrets a lot of the time, but in those drowsy moments, they allow you to cuddle them. It’s like heaven on earth.
10. Sloppy baby kisses. When the term “big wet one” was invented about kisses, I’m pretty sure they were talking about a toddler learning how to give kisses. Open mouth, full hearts, can’t lose.
11. When they begin to play independently. If you do something with your child that they enjoy, you’re likely to be doing it until you die. But in those tender moments where you’re doing something else while they play contentedly with toys or books or another child? That is peak parenting, friend.
12. When they eat what you’ve cooked. I know, I know—you win some, you lose some. But there are those magical meals where you’ve coaxed your kiddo into eating what everyone else is, and it’s then in a harmonious moment you decide maybe you’ll tackle world peace next.
13. Going out for your first date after baby. Whether it’s a week or a year postpartum, it’s a huge blessing to get out of the house for an evening with no littles in tow. Will you miss them? Sure. Will you enjoy the heck out of some appetizers, beer, or adult time without baby shark playing somewhere in the distance? Absolutely.
14. Solid napping through grocery shopping. I love grocery shopping, but I DESPISE when my daughter is in a “not having it” kind of mood. But, I’ve gotten lucky and done a happy dance (quietly) when she’s managed to stay asleep the entire time we’re grocery shopping. Blissful.
15. When your partner clocks in. It is a true blessing to have a co-parent throughout the little (and big) things. If you’re able to go out and read a book, have warm coffee, or even nap while your partner takes care of things: be grateful. It’s a luxury not always afforded to everyone.
16. Going to the bathroom alone. I used to joke that my best bathroom time was when my daughter was napping or otherwise content with someone else watching her. I now know and live this as my truth—uninterrupted poops and scrolling on social media is a form of quick self-care, y’all.
17. Knowing this little person is all yours. Through the triumphs and tribulations, this little person you’ve been entrusted with to shape and mold is yours: to have and to hold, for better or for worse. More binding than marriage, more permanent than a pet—your child is your lifelong passion project and will be the one grateful for you and thanking you for all you’ve done before you know it. For now, settle into your little wins and appreciate that at least this form of a paycheck will never be taxed, no matter how taxing it may be.