I don’t think I’m being too hard on myself when I say that during most hours of most days, I don’t feel very successful as a parent. I work from home while also watching my 21-month-old daughter, which means she usually takes a backseat to my infinite parade of deadlines. We manage to get out and walk or go to the store or into town or the library on most days, but it never feels like enough time or attention for her.
When my 4-year-old daughter gets home from preschool, she’s often tired and cranky and so am I, which means we both whine incessentaly when I feel like we should instead being playing, creating and relaxing.
I don’t put a ton of pressure on myself to be a perfect mom, but I still wish I were better than I feel I am a lot of the time. That being said, every once in a while, I get a glimpse of my girls and breathe a sigh of relief that I must be doing something right. Parents doing it right isn’t unique — it’s the goal, after all, isn’t it? — but when I actually manage to do it right, or even just better, I try to acknowledge and savor the moment.
That happened recently when my husband snapped a photo of our older daughter during a barbeque we hosted. She just oozed a sparkle that can’t be faked, and for a split second, I realized it could have only happened in the first place because we set her up for some amount of success. So I asked a few other parents to share photos of their kids that showed that at least on some occasions, they’re doing something right by their kids, too.
Take a look:
Parents Doing it Right 1 of 11
After all, what could be wrong with these faces?
Knowingly Happy 2 of 11
"It's easy to teach things to toddlers. It's not so easy to make them actually understand what they're learning. When I sing 'If You're Happy and You Know It' to my little one and she throws her hands up in the air to shout 'Hooray!', the way her eyes laugh and she just can't quit grinning makes me realize if nothing else, she really is happy, and she really does know it."
Brotherly Love 3 of 11
"This picture of my kids captured a very rare moment of affection between the two of them that made my heart explode. Two seconds later the younger one kicked the older one in the nuts."
Success I 4 of 11
"A photo of my youngest daughter, taken by her big sister. When I first saw this photo, I couldn't stop looking at it. The girl in this photo...she's so....fully herself. So comfy in her skin. So peaceful. So perfectly and simply happy. Having this photo captured in the midst of a year full of incredibly tough changes (including moving, leaving a religion, and divorce), I was awestruck and grateful to see this photo and know...she's gonna be alright."
For Your Eyes Only 5 of 11
"Seeing my two girls together brings me such joy. My oldest thanked me for giving her a sister after her baby sister was born and nothing has made her happier than having a little sister to love, help take care of and watch grow. It has been beautiful and such an honor to watch these two interact with each other, the age difference insignificant in their eyes. According to my oldest they are best friends. Giving birth to these two girls is definitely a parenting success."
The Little Things 6 of 11
"We try not to forbid any foods outright in our family, but we do keep sweets and other less-than-healthy foods to a minimum. We recently hosted a barbeque and put some hors d'oeuvres on the table on the deck in our backyard, which meant our older daughter could take as many tortilla chips as she wanted instead of having just a handful portioned onto her plate. It's probably tough for most people to imagine getting quite so fired up about tortilla chips, but then again, we're talking about a little girl whose default switch is set to 'HAPPY.'"
Jumping Joy 7 of 11
"'Go jump in the abandoned field full of mud and junk. I'll call you for dinner in a bit.'"
- Tami Solondz
Purrfect Pair 8 of 11
"Addie has such an intense and overwhelming love for animals, I know for a fact it's the sign of a good heart that will grow into a loving person."
Kindness 9 of 11
"I've always wanted my small people to be close. They know our number one job as parents is to protect them. We've taught them that their number one job is to take care of each other. When I see moments like this, all of the other mothering chaos melts away. I didn't tell her to help him. And I definitely didn't ask her to do it like this. And yet she did. I AM doing something right."
Success II 10 of 11
"This poem came home in my youngest son's Monday Folder last week. It's kinda like every mother's greatest hope ever...to peek inside their kids mind and find a happy, strong soul who believe they can do anything."
Droll Duo 11 of 11
"Mason loves to beeline for his baby brother in the morning. He loves to make him smile. He does a little dance, which gets all of us going!"
- Jamie d'Aragon
More from Meredith on Babble:
- When Dad Doesn’t Know Best: 10 Hilariously Awkward Father’s Day Photos
- Soulumination Documents the Priceless Yet Fleeting Joy of Families with Terminally Ill Children (PHOTOS)