What makes a mom a great mom? Is it the number of school lunches she packs for her kids? Is it the hours of sleep she loses caring for an infant or worrying over a teenager? Is it her ability to coordinate play dates, coach her daughter's soccer team or help her son earn his Boy Scout merit badge, all while working her own job and getting a nutritious dinner on the table each night?
It's all those things — and more.
Like so many moms, the moms in this post have done amazing things for their families and their communities. Their stories cover the spectrum of ways that moms show their love for their children. This list is not exhaustive, and these examples aren't equal, but it's an inspiring sampling of all the good that moms do. With that said, here are nine epic moms who totally win at parenting.
1. Renee Bergeron
When Renee Bergeron's son was diagnosed with a rare heart condition at 18 months of age, she decided she would use her photography skills to put a smile on his face. Bergeron captured images of her son dressed as a superhero, and when she saw how much joy it brought him to see himself in that way, she shared this joy with other families of special needs children. That's how Bergeron's Superhero Project was born. You can see more of her photo series at Little Earthling Photography.
2. Sidonie Asseme
A 38-year-old mother of five, Sidonie Asseme risks her life daily to protect the world’s most endangered wildlife from poachers. Asseme works deep in the forests of Cameroon’s Nki National Park. She’s been attacked, beaten and threatened by poachers, but she says she’ll never stop fighting to protect Africa’s elephants and gorillas. “I was born in the forest and feel a moral obligation to protect it and its wildlife,” she says. “For humanity and for my kids.”
3. Corinna Skorpenske
When Corinna Skorpenske's daughter received this note on her car after parking in a spot reserved for the disabled, the protective mom sprang into action, defending her daughter's actions and inciting a movement among those who suffer from "silent" diseases.
Skorpenske posted an open response to the note her daughter received, explaining her daughter's lifelong struggle with lupus. "She struggles every day with permanent damage she has had to one side of her body and with hearing loss, but baby, she keeps going!" said Skorpenske in her open letter. "Many people suffer with these "GHOST" diseases, which you can't see but are just as bad as a physical disability," she added.
With one letter Skorpenske defended not only her daughter, but all sufferers of silent diseases, those who appear fine at first glance but suffer with pain and other debilitating symptoms. Her letter has been shared more than 200,000 times on Facebook.
4. Siabatou Sanneh
Also known as the Paris Marathon Walker, Siabatou Sanneh recently walked the Paris Marathon with 45 pounds of water on her head to draw attention to the distance that many women and children in her home country of Gambia must walk to get fresh water each day. “I don't want my children and their children to be collecting water from the well when they are my age,” said Sanneh.
5. Loryan Prince
Known to the rest of the world only as "PFLAG Mom," (PFLAG stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays," Loryan Prince is the mom of two lesbian daughters who say she has loved them unconditionally since birth and helped many of their friends find a safe place to share their feelings. This epic mom says it all in the sign she is holding.
6. Andi Davis
When Andi Davis went for a hike in Phoenix Mountain Reserve near her home, she had no idea how that hike would change her life. About 30 minutes in, Davis came across a pit bull that had been shot and abandoned but was still alive.
Putting aside her apprehensions, Davis gave the pup some water, picked up the 47-pound animal and carried him for the next hour, down the trail to safety.
Davis and her family brought the dog to the Arizona Humane Society where he was treated for his wounds before being released back into the care of Davis and her family. Forever. They named him Elijah.
7. Rachel Hollis
When mom of three, Rachel Hollis was on vacation with her family earlier this year, her husband snapped this pic of her in a bikini. Hollis noticed that the shot showed off her stretch marks, but she posted it anyhow, on Facebook, Instagram, and her own blog, The Chic Site, along with these powerful words:
"I have stretch marks and I wear a bikini. I have a belly that's permanently flabby from carrying three giant babies and I wear a bikini. My belly button is saggy... (which is something I didn't even know was possible before!!) and I wear a bikini. I wear a bikini because I'm proud of this body and every mark on it. Those marks prove that I was blessed enough to carry my babies and that flabby tummy means I worked hard to lose what weight I could. I wear a bikini because the only man who's opinion matters knows what I went through to look this way. That same man says he's never seen anything sexier than my body, marks and all. They aren't scars ladies, they're stripes and you've earned them. Flaunt that body with pride!"
Hollis' pic instantly went viral and sparked its own series of proud moms showing off their post-baby bikini bodies — stretch marks and all.
8. Suzanne Lea
In 2008, when Suzanne Lea's husband died suddenly from a heart attack, the mother of two young boys struggled to find a way to help her family through their grief. As the result of random gifts of kindness from her neighborhood church, Lea and her boys found joy in the holiday season and were inspired to help others do the same. Lead founded the nonprofit In 12 Days (as in the 12 days of Christmas) to help other families struggling through tough times during the holidays.
9. Toya Graham
Everyone seems to have plenty to say about Toya Graham, aka the "Baltimore Mom," who found her 16-year-old son taking part in the recent Baltimore riots, smacked him on the head, and forced him to go home. I won't pretend to know what kind of mom Graham is outside of this five-second clip of her life. And I won't say that she was justified in hitting her child. But I will say that anyone who judges her for doing so has likely never been put in the position of finding their 16-year-old son with a rock in his hand taking part in a riot. In the heat of the moment, in the middle of a riot, Toya Graham acted with the sole purpose of protecting her son and keeping him alive. And that is nothing short of epic.