Have you heard the expression, “I was a good mom until I had kids?” I was convinced that people without kids just don’t understand the nitty-gritty of parenting. To prove it, I asked a group of non-parent friends, “What is the best part of being a parent?” and “What’s the worst?” Their answers surprised me — not because they were so far off, but because they mostly got it right. Here are some of the responses:

The Best Part of Parenting

  • “When you pick up your kid and they’re just so happy to see you.”
  • “Knowing that you created life.”
  • “You get to teach someone something brand new and then see how it works out.”
  • “Watching them grow into little people.”
  • “All the love you receive!”

Some Less-Serious Replies

  • “Cute kid quotes!”
  • “All the funny things they say.”
  • “Being a Soccer Dad…well, any sport really.”
  • “I could get away with those terrible dad jokes.”

The Worst Part of Parenting

  • “That’s easy. Lack of sleep. I love me some shut-eye.”

More worsts

  • “Not sleeping.”
  • “Not sleeping”
  • “Sleep.”
  • “Ugh, diapers. Specifically when you have to change them.”
  • “You have to be ON twenty four-seven.”
  • “When you don’t understand what your kid wants.”
  • “You have to yell.”
  • “That’s so much responsibility! I mean, you’re responsible for raising that kid into a good person.”
  • “Putting up with 18 years of no freedom.”

My favorite responses summed up the whole parenting package

  • “The best part: having kids for the rest of your life. The worst part: having kids for the rest of your life.”
  • “The best part would be meeting your child for the first time and the worst is everything after that!”

So it turns out I was wrong about how little non-parents know, but I’m glad I conducted this experiment because it reminded me of all the things I appreciate about being a parent. My friends are right about the sleep deprivation, and I didn’t have the heart to tell them that it lasts much longer than they can even imagine.  And I don’t know anyone who loves changing diapers. They’re also right about how cool it is to be in the heart of someone you love so much, and that it feels like a miracle to watch them grow into amazing, unique people. And they’re right about how hard parenting can be, and how long the days feel sometimes. But as my children get older, I’m aware how quickly the time is passing, and how much I’ll miss this time when they’re grown and gone.

In the end, I hugged all those young friends of mine because they are going to make great parents. And then I hugged my kids because I’m  glad that I get to experience the best and the worst of parenting — every single day.