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Remember back in the day when you used to get gold stars for doing something good? Feelings of accomplishment and pride were represented on a big piece of cardboard with your name and then a (hopefully) long line of gold star shaped stickers.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the playground and the kids wanted to go on the swings, but someone (teens with nothing better to do) had wrapped the swings around the top bar. I wasn’t going to let my little one go without some time on the swing, so I stepped up and began heaving the swing seats over the bars, attempting to avoid being wacked in the face as they came down. I went down the whole row of swings, and when I had finished, the other moms were thankful that their kids could swing again.

It was at that moment I decided I deserved a gold star. It wasn’t a big deal to do, but it made a difference. I was proud of myself, and believe me, most days instead of a pat on the back I get a toddler pulling my hair like we’re in a high school hallway brawl.

Last week I rocked another MGSM (Mommy Gold Star Moment).  The toddler found a flooded running trail next to the playground equipment and ran straight into it. I let him. For the next 10 minutes he ran up and down, splashing and laughing, and I loved watching him enjoy himself so much.

Then, he fell. Not a “mommy to the rescue!” fall. This was ‘roll around in blissful toddler joy and cover every inch of himself in mud’ fall. I again, let him.  I eventually had to wrestle him when it was time to leave, covering myself in mud as well, but it was worth it.  For those 10 minutes he was carefree (and tantrum free) and his giggles were all I needed to know, this was another MGSM to add to my imaginary cardboard sign.

(I should note, that I am pretty confident that if husband had been the one to allow toddler in the mud, I would have been so annoyed and complaining about the mess.)

If you’re a mom (or dad!), you probably don’t give yourself enough credit for the little things you do that make your child’s days a little brighter.  Next time you do, give yourself a gold star and try to remember that MGSM the next time you hide in the bathroom to eat so you don’t have to share your food.