What is it, to become a parent? It is a riotous journey, the first year. Highs and lows. Extreme exhaustion. Emotional growth. A loss of self, but also finding your strength. All of the cliches are true, it turns out, every single last one of them.

We’ve achieved one year, the culmination of a whirlwind series of months during which we grew into parenthood. We’ve managed to keep two little beings alive and cared for, though it came complete with one bleeding mouth, and one bleeding head injury. Twins bash into each other a lot, it turns out. It also included a selection of vaccination needles, one trip to the emergency room, one to the walk-in clinic, and a few trips to the children’s hospital (nothing serious, thank goodness.)

We’re now the proud parents of two rambunctious, bouncing one-year-olds who put literally any disgusting thing in their mouths they can get their hands on. Sometimes they don’t even bother with their hands, and just suck lint right off the carpet. A regular occurance in our household is a comedic scene in which two tiny maniacs find a spare scrap of food on the floor, fight over it, and then two tired parents try to prevent that crap from going into their mouths.

Alas, the struggle for a modicum of control is constant. Diaper changes can become an epic battle; at times the twins twist and turn and fight to sit up or roll over, screaming as if the whole experience is an unimaginable torture. Seconds later, they’re gleefully playing with a spare wipe they’ve stolen from the container, as if nothing has happened and the “extreme pain” of laying still just moments ago is now completely forgotten.

At this age, getting the twins dressed can be a lengthy affair. One minute they’re cooperating; one kid is letting you put her pants on, and the other is quietly playing with the shape-sorter. The next minute all hell breaks loose: the shape sorter is being repeatedly smashed into an innocent face. There is no ease, just constant struggling with two slippery 25-pound sacks of wriggling snakes.

I don’t mean to say it’s twice as hard being a twin parent. It is twice as much effort as one single baby, and everything takes twice as long. Okay, maybe I am saying it’s twice as hard. But, any parent of small children will say they are tired, and they’re not lying. Their exhaustion is real, and it’s not a contest for who is the most exhausted, is it? Just to be clear though, if it was a contest, I’d put my money on parents of triplets. To put it in perspective, I was recently asked one of those conversation-starter kinds of questions: what I would do with a evening in the White House to explore with no limitations? I answered without hesitation, “Take a nap.”

The first year of parenting is full of tests and trials, reprioritization, challenges to overcome, emotional moments, and difficulties. But it is also full of valuable life lessons, cuddling, belly laughter, and looking at cute baby photos late at night when you should be sleeping. All of the jokes I’ve made this year aside, and considering everything, trading proper rest for true love seems like a pretty darn easy exchange.