Moms reflect on the joys of motherhood.

Life Is Wonderful

"Michael has forced me to pay attention to little happenings I once ignored. Now I cherish watching the snow fall, spotting airplanes in the sky, sledding down a hill, and observing birds at the feeder."-- Molly Feenstra, Grand Haven, MI

"I love the way my kids have reminded me what is so wonderful about life. It's not just a walk to the grocery store; it's a treasure hunt. It's not just popping in a video; it's hosting a full-fledged movie night. It's not just baking a cake to satiate a sweet tooth; it suddenly becomes the best un-birthday cake ever made!"-- Wendy Gillespie, Goleta, CA

"One day, as I was rushing off to give a seminar about the importance of family connections, my 6-year-old daughter said, 'Mama, can we sit in the rocking chair and snuggle?' I looked at my watch and my first thought was, 'I don't have time!' But then the irony of not taking a moment to honor her request for connection hit me, and I smiled. 'Of course, sweetie.' We rocked for a couple of minutes, just looking at each other and smiling."-- Denise Roy, Santa Clara, CA

"I enjoy the guilty pleasures -- watching Oprah while nursing, wearing pajamas all morning, never changing my watch batteries, eating the crusts from grilled cheese sandwiches. As a mother, I have relaxed into my life."-- Sara Woods, Annapolis, MD

My Baby Loves Me No Matter What

"My favorite time of day is when my 6-month-old baby girl first wakes up. She always lifts her head to look me straight in the eye and beams her contagious little smile, as if this person is trying to say, 'Mommy, I'm so excited to see you.'"-- Molly Hochstettler, South Bend, IN

"My daughter is the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before going to bed. The way she looks into my eyes or when she comes running toward me to give me a hug or ask me to read her a story just melts my heart."-- Jennifer Thompson, City withheld

"I could be in sweatpants and a T-shirt with my hair in a ponytail and I know when my son looks at me all he sees is 'Mommy,' and that he loves me with all his heart."-- Gina Iannantone, Aurora, IL

"Not a day goes by that I don't wonder how my husband and I ever got along without our kids. My former life seems so boring! The way my youngest daughter laughs when I pick her up, the look of wonder on my older daughter's face when she discovers a leaf -- it's bliss! How can you have a bad day when two of the most precious children on the planet love you even when you're not the prettiest, smartest, or slimmest person?"-- Michelle Curth, Chesapeake, VA

"Before I had my daughter, when I thought about motherhood, I thought of breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, and diapers. While those things are obviously a huge part of mothering, they are merely physical aspects. What took me by surprise is the way I feel when I just sit and stare at her playing across the room, or when I tell her 'Good job, sweet pea' when she accomplishes yet another task she has tried so hard to conquer. Or the way her face lights up when I walk into a room because I am her world and she is mine. Being a mother is like taking your heart out of your chest and watching it walk around."-- Maria Norris, Holly Springs, NC

Stronger Relationships

"One of the best things about being a mother is my new appreciation for my own mother, mother-in-law, and grandmothers. My mom and I have a new friendship now. I realize just how much she loved me as a child."-- Nikki Merritt, Greenville, SC

"I know the value of a true mother, and I value mine more. I now understand all the sacrifices she made and why she made them."-- Marlo Scott, Margate, FL

"Being a mom gave me a much greater appreciation of my own mom, who raised seven children. I keep thinking that if I am this busy with one, how did she manage with seven? Being a mother makes you more compassionate toward women in general, because it's a struggle to do it all these days."-- Donna Collins, Redwood City, CA

"I can't help but grin as I watch my husband jiggle to the Wiggles with 20-month-old Grace. She brings out the goofy part of him, which makes him even more endearing and sexy to me."-- Christine Collins, Honesdale, PA

"Nothing has made me fall in love with my husband more than seeing him sit on the floor and play with our son! The giggles that I hear from our son and the smile that I see on my husband's face melt my heart."-- Betsy Miller, Monticello, MN

"A completely new side of (my husband) emerged with the birth of our daughter. The stoic, macho man has become a virtual marshmallow when his daughter asks him for a hug. I love seeing his tender side."-- Jen Neely, Annapolis, MD

Now I Get It!

"Becoming a mother has taught me the most important lessons in life: patience, kindness, strength, unending faith, and that getting down on the floor and rolling around for no reason is the most fun thing in the world."-- Stephanie Toledo, West Warwick, RI

"I've become more empathetic and sympathetic. When the teenager behind the counter at Starbucks messes up my no-whip double latte, I don't yell at him because I know he is someone's baby. I hope people will be kind to my son if he's ever serving coffee."-- Susan Franyo, Racine, WI

"Being a mother has made me less of a perfectionist. Yes, juice is going to get spilled on the rug, and shirts will get stained, but those things can be replaced. A child's spirit can't."-- Shannon Johnson, Corfu, NY

"My son makes me feel like I've accomplished my greatest feat and at the same time, he makes me want to achieve greater things in his name. I want the world to be better for him and because of him."-- Laura Simoes, Concord, NH

"Now that I'm a mom, I'm so much more aware of the world around me. When I hear about a missing child or starving children in Africa, I feel for those moms in a way that I was incapable of before I had my daughter."-- Tracy Fives, Lake Worth, FL

"My daughter has taught me to be selfless, to look inside myself and try to be a person who I would want her to look up to."-- Heidi Perry-Hipp, Calverton, NY

"Nothing makes me prouder than to say I'm Connor's mom."-- Angela Lechtenberg, Columbia, MO

"My child has taught me that the lines that separate us as individuals have no racial, religious, or material borders. My little one runs up to kids at the playgroup and wants to share their toys. They enjoy other kids whom they've never seen before just for who they are. No pretenses. No judgment."--Wendy Gillespie, Goleta, CA

American Baby