Busy days and sleepless nights can make it easy to forget how magical parenting can be. Taking a moment can help us remember.

Raising kids can be rough. Even after pulling your fair share of all-nighters, you’ve rarely felt this level of exhaustion and fatigue. Or this kind of frustration and outright rage.

Long stretches of solo time? You just laughed because you figured I was kidding.

Yes, it’s vital to be honest about the challenges of parenting and the sheer overwhelm and seemingly relentless nature. But many memes, articles, and social media posts portray parenting as a joyless, miserable slog, which unfairly puts a negative light on something miraculous.

Just because parenting is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t also beautiful and wonderful. Because there are many, many things to love about raising kids — even when you’ve been cooped up in the house together for countless hours.

Naming these many things helps us to more effectively traverse the tough stuff. It becomes our anchor during some pretty stormy days. And it reminds us why we wanted to become parents in the first place.

Consequently, we asked moms and dads to share precisely what they love about being a parent. Here’s what they said (cue the tears!):

“The thing that I love most about parenting is that it reminds me to play. When you have the responsibilities of a mortgage and career and trying to balance your social life in between, it can be easy to be very serious and business-like all the time.

But when you’re a parent with a young child, they remind you that excitement and joy don’t have to be things you have to go on holiday to experience. They can be something you experience whenever you choose.”

— Leigh Louey-Gung, founder of LifeOS and dad to 4-year-old son

“There are a couple of amazing things that I love about parenting. The first is the love that I receive. Just the sparkle in their eyes when they see me and how they run and hug me in excitement when I pick them up from school.

They even have their own special way of saying I love you: ‘I love you and miss you, and love you too mommy and daddy.’ It’s magical and priceless.

In addition, I love their spontaneity. You really never know what they are going to say or do. They are full of surprises, and I love surprises. There is never a dull moment, like calling an octopus an ‘opacus’ or asking why are we driving on the highway and not the ‘lowway.’”

Delene Musielak, MD, author, coach, and mom of triplets

“I love our little talks… There’s nothing I enjoy more than listening to [my daughter’s] perspective, from the simplest observations to the most complex ideas. Her thoughts are surprising and hilarious, and on occasion, remarkably insightful.”

— Ross Quade, co-owner and CEO of Prime Mutual and dad to 8-year-old daughter

“I love being a parent because there is no more incredible experience than seeing an extension of you discovering the world.

I used to think I was shy and weak. But when I see [my daughter’s] strong personality and all her courage, I get inspired because I know that that is part of me too. I end up, naturally, awakening those dead parts and wanting to be a better person — for me and for her.

I love being a mother because I never imagined that I could discover myself and develop so much in this role. I used to think that I was old for a lot of stuff (I am 33), but now I think that I have a whole new life to live and to discover with my girl.

[Being a mother] gives me perspective for the future [and the] will to fight for my dreams and life purpose.”

— Lara Soares, owner of The Mood Guide and mom to 15-month-old daughter

“My favorite thing about being Brianna’s dad is that she’s made me a better, more dynamic person. You don’t realize the sacrifices you’re willing to make or the challenges you’re capable of overcoming until you become responsible for the welfare of someone you love.

I’ve stayed up all night on a work night to help care for Brianna when she’s sick. I’ve changed jobs so I can be around her more… We may not share blood, but she is still my daughter.”

— Bryan Truong, co-founder of Game Cows and adoptive dad to 12-year-old daughter

“I love being able to mold and shape little humans… My kids help me see the good in people and make me hopeful for the future. It’s such an amazing feeling seeing them grow and develop into individuals knowing I had a hand in that!”

— Amber Robinson, writer and mom of two under 2

“I love seeing the world through my children’s eyes. My wife and I are travel enthusiasts and have had the opportunity to travel to 30+ countries as well as live abroad in Japan for 5 years. So now that our kids are getting older, one of our favorite things is to travel internationally. This allows them to experience the world and the cultures my wife and I hold so dear.

It brings us great joy to see them learn and grow in different environments. My daughter is in an Italian immersion school and is excited for us to travel to and live in Italy as a family someday in the near future.

I love having this bond with my daughter to discuss the world and the opportunities that await when we open our [minds].”

— Alex Shute, co-founder of UpwardExits and dad to 7-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son

“What I love about being a parent is that every day you have the chance to be a positive role model to your kids. I love to start off each day with a healthy and fresh breakfast and uplifting music, for example.

We like to sing, dance, and we keep the TV turned off for a while. It helps put us in a great mood for the day. You have the ability to set the tone for your kids and that’s special.”

— Olga Zakharchuk, investor, blogger, and mom of an infant and toddler

“Parenting is wonderful because it invites us to revisit the simple and silly joys of our own childhood. We are afforded the opportunity to join our children in their wonder and curiosity as they experience firsts, consider big questions, and explore their world. Our inner child is invited to participate in the discovery process and all the fun.

As a result, we are able to step into silly, lightheaded, and refreshing places. It is hard to take yourself seriously when you are donning superhero capes, having a dance party in your kitchen, or creating with sidewalk chalk.

By stepping into a silly, lighthearted, and fun place as parents, we lighten up and enjoy the simpler things in life.”

— Caitlyn Scaggs, writer, administrator, blogger and mom to 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son

Like any worthwhile pursuit, parenting is demanding and challenging. And it’s incredibly beautiful.

So, take some time today to reflect on what you love about being a parent. Jot down your words in a journal.

Come back to this question regularly and see how your answers shift and grow throughout the months and years — as you and your kids do, too.

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS, is a freelance writer and associate editor at PsychCentral.com. She’s been writing about mental health, psychology, body image, and self-care for over a decade. She lives in Florida with her husband and their daughter. You can learn more at www.margaritatartakovsky.com.