I don’t know what planet I was on when I thought that when I became a parent all the skills I’d need would simply “come to me.” It wasn’t long before I realized that parenting, while it has brought countless incomparable joys into my life, is hard work. Every day seems to bring new challenges, but I know for a fact that being a parent has made me a better and happier person.

Of course, my husband and I didn’t suddenly transform into good parents the moment our first child entered our lives! I would say we had the potential to be good parents, but I’ve come to realize that every day is a learning process. I expect to be honing my parenting skills for many years to come, as I adapt my parenting to the evolving needs of my children and the situations we’ll find ourselves in.

On those days when I feel frayed at the edges and question my ability as a parent and I wonder whether my efforts are paying off, my mind goes back to the day when God spoke to my heart regarding these special years of parenting. It was one of those days when it seemed like, despite my best efforts, I wasn’t even coming close to retaining a handle on all that needed to be done. I was frazzled and irritated, but then God spoke to my heart these simple words: You will look back one day and realize that these were your better years!

I try to carry that thought with me when I question whether I’m really cut out for parenting. After all, I’ve been blessed with five beautiful children, and I’m so grateful for each one. It’s easy to get locked into the daily grind of life—the extra messes that need to be tidied up, the rising laundry pile, the personal ambitions that are taking a back burner—but I’ve come to realize that being a parent means adjusting my dreams and aspirations from being based on my circumstances before my children entered my life to how my circumstances are now.

As I have changed my perspective on what I can achieve and accomplish to match up with my reality, I’m much more accepting of the challenges that come with parenting. In fact, I’m excited by the richness that my life is filled with now that I have children in my world. There were so many things that I could not comprehend until I crossed that line from adulthood into parenthood. Mine is now a parent’s world. I will never be the same again.—And I don’t think I’d want to!