Parenting is trying and difficult. It’s also gloriously rewarding. And it has little or nothing to do with how much experience with kids you have or what kind of parent you think you’ll be. Whatever image you have in your head of your future parenting journey, you can toss it out of the window of a moving car.

Experience is nice, don’t get me wrong. It’s convenient to know how to change a diaper before you take your baby home for the first time, but it’s really not necessary. You could learn the basics online if you had to. The truth is that no matter how many baby books you’ve read or how many kids you have babysat for, nothing will prepare you for motherhood.

I have always wanted to be a mother. I got pregnant when I was in high school. I felt that maternal bond immediately. I miscarried a few months later, but I yearned to have that bond back. I knew that I was going to be an amazing mom. I had a good example to follow, and I knew in my soul that’s what my purpose in life was. I was going to be the best mom ever. Wrong!

It turns out that I lack the ability to tune people out. That’s not a good thing, especially when both of your kids are hyper and loud. Not being able to tune them out is sometimes unbearable. I lose my cool way more often than I’d like to admit. Most nights I would head to bed with my sanity hanging by a thread.

Nobody talks about how hard parenting is. Every article tells you how “time flies . . . enjoy your kids . . . cherish every moment . . . mold and sculpt them.” Our parents made it look so easy. I feel like a complete failure most of the time. Luckily, despite my mistakes and insecurities, my kids are happy. They have fun, and they laugh and play together. Kids are optimistic and resilient. They forget about arguments or disagreements almost instantly. Adults tend to dwell on things that are said or done. Children don’t do that.

I would have graded myself with a solid C- in the parenting department, but then something happened that changed my perspective. I was looking over my son’s Mother’s Day worksheet he brought home from school. He only had time to finish half of it, so I went over the rest with him. There were questions about my favorite activities and movies. Then I read the next one aloud, “What do you wish your mom did more?” His answer was, “Nothing! You’re perfect!”

Even though I look and feel like a hot mess most of the time, that’s not what he sees. There is no crystal ball. You won’t know what kind of parent you’ll be or what kind of kids you’ll have until you are living it. Just take a deep breath and dive in. You just have to have faith that everything will be ok.