A traffic-less commute, a super short line at the grocery store, and fabulous friends that are more like family—there are plenty of reasons to be thankful, but nothing really beats being a parent. Read on for a few reasons why we’re so grateful to be mamas and papas.

photo: Jason Lander via Flickr

1. They make you smile at least once every day.

2. Your immune system is at the top of its game. Kids are germ magnets, so whatever colds, flu, or stomach viruses they get, we will probably get too.

3. Kids tell it like it is. If something looks unflattering, uncool, or ugly (their words!) on you, you better believe they will let you know.

4. You can make scrambled eggs and a toaster waffle for dinner, and your kids think it’s a five-star meal.

photo: musthaqsms via pixabay

5. That new baby smell.

6. They help you appreciate the little things in life. Think twigs, bottle caps, and pine cones.

7. Your patience level skyrockets. But, what do you expect after years of waiting for your little one to choose an ice cream flavor, a library book, or birthday gift for a friend—it takes them fooooorrrrrreeeeeevvvvvveeeeerrrrrr.

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

photo: Toshimasa Ishibashi via Flickr 

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

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

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

12. Stowaways in our beds at dawn—those early morning cuddles are priceless.

 photo: Michelle Ress via Flickr

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

14. 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?

15. 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

16. The word family takes on a new meaning, and you soon learn we are all the same tribe.

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

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

photo: Leonid Mamchenkov via flickr

19. 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.

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

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

22. You’ll always have a friend. 

photo: Odwarific via pixabay

23. 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 into people. And they still give hugs!

24. 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.

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

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

photo: mats lindh via flickr 

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

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

29. Because humor and patience come with every conversation and every outing.

30. 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

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

32. 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).

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

34. 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