Before you become a parent, or a spouse, you have a certain set of expectations going in.

You expect parenting to be a breeze, your children to be angels and that you and your spouse will always agree Sunday’s are meant for football.

Well, then those lovely set of realities set in.

Parenting is a marathon. Kids are unpredictable at best and marriage isn’t always rainbows and sprinkles.

Bottom line: Adulting is hard, but it’s got some stellar rewards.

When I first married my solider I expected him to be home by 5 p.m. every night.

I think that’s happened maybe a handful of times in the almost eight years he’s been active duty. Now that we are parents and he’s in command, I know it’s never good news when he calls us at 4 p.m. If the kids see their dad before bedtime during the week, it’s a treat. If we can get both kids to sleep by 7 p.m. and manage to eat dinner at our kitchen table during a crazy week night and sneak in one of our DVR’ed shows before one of the kids wakes up, that my friends is parenting Nirvana.

Before kids, I lived in my kitchen and I figured that would continue once kids came into the picture because little ones are supposed to sleep a lot. I don’t know who filled my head with such nonsensical propaganda because my kids fight sleep like it’s a villain. I’m lucky to prepare one meal in their while also simultaneously unloading and loading the dishwasher and assembling bottles. I also used to fill my head with all the different things I could conjure up for dinner. Now the words, “What’s for dinner?” are fightin’ words. Adult meal time is like a fairy tale and it only happens once upon a time. God bless caffeine and anything that can be eaten with one hand at room temperature.

Even though I have twins and they were womb-mates for eight months, they could not be any more different. My son, sleeps through the night in his own bed, in his own room, but my daughter prefers to have a slumber party with mom and dad and needs to eat something every four hours. My son will eat anything I feed him, whereas his sister will happily spit said puree all over my face. At the end of the day, I may be exhausted with God knows what in my hair, but my soldier gets to come home at night and I get to tag him in so can we kiss our beautiful and healthy kiddos goodnight, together.

I was the perfect wife and mother before I actually became either. I vowed I would always prepare a from-scratch meal every night and that I would make all my own baby food. Since I have snapped out of La-La Land and my feet are firmly planted back on Earth, I’ve learned happiness doesn’t come from having all the clothes washed, folded and put away or organic, gluten free pizza. Happiness comes from togetherness and spending quality time with your loved ones, even if it means having one set of tiny feet in your face and another set lodged into your spouse’s kidney at 3 a.m.

Sometimes the reality actually trumps the expectation.

Vanessa Lynch is a former metro editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. An Army spouse, she and her husband live in Harker Heights with their two young children.

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