Being a parent may not always be easy, but it will always be worth it. For all the sleepless nights, morning shoe battles and midnight LEGO-to-foot injuries, we will always be grateful we are parents. Read on to find out a few of the reasons why.

photo: musthaqsms via pixabay

1. We have learned not to worry as much what other people think and rely on our gut instincts.

2. We get to experience a lifetime of firsts (again). Each trip to the park or even the grocery store can be an adventure.

3. Mean people suck and we get to raise kind kids to combat all that suckiness.

4. Feeling fancy is simpler: if you actually get to wear something that is dry clean only, you are feeling pretty glam.

photo: Toshimasa Ishibashi via flickr 

5. Stowaways in our beds at dawn: those early morning cuddles are priceless.

6. No one wants to have the applesauce wiped off their chins by a stranger, including us. And one day, that applesauce-covered cherub will be wiping our chins (we hope).

7. Perspective: have a baby or two and those “few extra pounds” from your college years are looking pretty good.

photo: Michelle Ress via flickr

8. Because no one raises an eyebrow when the grocery cart is filled with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate if there’s a kid nearby.

9. The secrets that they spill before bedtime: How can they go from “I think Iron Man is more powerful than Flash Gordon” to “Did your soul know mine before I was born?” in the same breath?

10. Everyone needs some humility to keep it real, and there’s nothing that spells humility like dealing with the bodily functions of a toddler.

photo: Caitlin Childs via flickr

11. Family takes on a new meaning and you soon learn we are all the same tribe.

12. Because being a parent makes us appreciate—or at least understand—ours a little bit more.

13. We don’t have to make up an excuse to watch The Parent Trap, The Rescuers, or Goonies. Again.

photo: Leonid Mamchenkov via flickr

14. Because we have tiny little mindfulness experts surrounding us every day, and there are no better examples of living in the moment than our kids.

15. A dirty house is not only allowed, but expected.

16. Oh, the 24-hour comedy routine that are our kids. What would otherwise be quiet, grown-up affairs now feature adults of all ages in tears from laughing so hard at silliness and nonsense jokes. Better than kittens.

17. Because we have tiny little mindfulness experts surrounding us every day, and there are no better examples of living in the moment than our kids.

photo: Odwarific via pixabay

18. At every milestone, we think, This is the best. I wish I could freeze time, but they stay as sweet, funny, loving—but gain in knowledge, empathy, humor and more—as they grow in to people. And they still give hugs!

19. Our friendships with other parents are steeped in reality. When they’ve seen you in the midst of a household stomach bug and still come around, you know you’ve got a friend for life.

20. We don’t have to be cool anymore. We just have to show them how much we love them.

21. When they can’t read, you can convince them that almond milk smoothies are milkshakes.

photo: mats lindh via flickr 

22. Because there’s nothing sweeter than when a little hand reaches for ours unprompted.

23. We get to spend every day with the most awesome people we’ve ever met.

24. Because humor and patience comes with every conversation and every outing.

25. We get to re-read all our favorite children’s books to them. They WILL learn to love Pippi Longstocking as much as we do. They will.

photo: Unsplash via pixabay

26. Compassion spills beyond just your the kids: our children’s open hearts help keep ours open.

27. Because our children’s presence ensures that we stop to enjoy the fun stuff in every season: apple picking, pumpkin carving, snowman building, water sliding. There are a million reasons (or excuses) to blow things off on our own; with a kid, no way.

What’s filling your parenting bucket with gratitude these days? Tell us in the comments section below!

—Shelley Massey, Gabby Cullen, Ayren Jackson-Cannady, Kristina Moy, Amber Guetebier, Mimi O’Connor, Meghan Rose, Erin Feher, and Leah Singer