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We at the TODAY Parenting Team understand that raising children is a messy business, with lots of trial and error and more chaos than calm (especially with boys!). We asked our community to submit photos of what REAL parenting looks like so that we could feature one on our Q&A page.
Our winner and now unofficial "cover girl," Jennifer Cave, showed us how to rock the mirror selfie: by having the whole family join in.
"My 7 week old refuses to sleep or be happy or do anything without screaming from 5-8 pm, but I have a 4 year old and dinner to make and baths to give. My mantra is 'survival at any cost,' and my husband [and I] do whatever we need to do to keep things rolling. Then we both collapse on the couch asleep while pretending to watch TV," Cave wrote.
Below are some of the equally hilarious runner-ups from the Q&A contest.
1. All good vacations must come to an end (Lori Sartre)
"When your flight lands after midnight and you're waiting for your husband to retrieve the car from the lot...you just have to let your kids sleep on the ground. At least they aren't whining they are tired!"
2. Toddler with ambition (Lindsay Holyan)
"We aren't too worried about her becoming a successful woman."
3. Silence is golden (Tara Kennedy-Kline)
"After 7 hours of being 'connected' at the Ren Faire...my teen decided he would stage a protest and took a vow of silence (which he couldn't manage to self regulate...so he repurposed some duct tape). Win-win!"
4. Mom's beauty secret (Megan Kidd)
"This is why my hair is always in a ponytail."
5. Not ready for a closeup (Jenalee DiCarlo)
"22 month-old twin sisters, Alessandra and Eliana... Mommy just trying to get a picture of her daughters turns into a total meltdown."
6. 'Say what?!' (Sheryl Ziegler)
"This is me looking at my 5 year old while he is acting 'coo-coo,' as we call it, as we are out to dinner. My husband took this while I had no idea, so now I know what I look like when I am perplexed!"
7. No rest for the weary (Katie Reed)
"A photo of me at 6:00 AM after a rough night. I have a four year old who'd slept half-underneath me all night, a two year old who decided I was his pillow/teddy bear at 4:00 AM, and a 6 month old who needed to be fed."
8. Patience is a virtue (Alicia Beavers)
"Sitting on the floor waiting for my 2 ½ year old to pee for the thousandth time after having her 5th accident that day, despite being potty trained for 3 months."
9. 'Now, here's the deal' (Ashley Cavazos)
"Juliana Grace is not buying what her daddy (Michael) is telling her. She's 11 months old going on 30. We as Parents think we have all the answers, but these little people are on to our game!"
10. Airport yoga, literally (Elizabeth Lacy)
"We had to keep our 2 year old entertained while waiting for a delayed flight. We found an empty area and made a gym with different stations—this was the yoga station."
11. 'We woke up like this' (Melanie Cade)
"Our twins always make their way into our bed at night. This particular morning when I woke up, this is what I found."
12. Trouble in aisle 2 (Jennie Hardie)
"This is my daughter, Fiona Broshear. She loves to help Momma shop as well as ram her cart into things. Mom is always on alert."
13. This bed ain't big enough for the three of us (Joel Holyan)
"This Father's Day, she let me sleep in until 7:30, but this was only allowed if she got to sleep with us. My wife took this from the edge of the bed after being, literally, kicked off."
14. 'Mom of the Year' (Katie Supnick)
"This is my 10 year old daughter babysitting my 4 week-old niece, so my sister and I could have a glass of wine!"