Three. My daughter turns three years old today. As cliche as it may sound, it really feels like only yesterday that we were welcoming her into our lives for the first time. As of yesterday, she’s out conquering preschool with the best of them. How did this happen? Reflecting back on these last three years, we’ve been bombarded by all sorts of parenting cliches and, as it turns out, a lot of them are actually true. Life is weird like that.

1. “They Grow Up So Fast”

Let’s start with the obvious one.

Many parents who had already been there and done that told us repeatedly that we should cherish every moment, because it will all be over in a blink of an eye. Relish in those late night cuddles as you fall asleep on the couch together. Soak in as many baby giggles as you possibly can. The days are long (so very long), they say, but the years are short.

While the objective reality of time (probably) doesn’t change, your perception of time will certainly shift. These last three years have gone by in a blur. She’s very much a real person now, full of personality and spunk and a wild imagination.

2. “You’re Overreacting”

On some level, I’d like to think that this has become less of a thing as Addie has gotten older. As first-time parents, we freaked out over everything for at least the first several months. How much spit-up is too much spit-up? Is she getting enough to eat? Should we be concerned about her skin? What can we do to make her more comfortable?

Like so many other first-time parents, we became regulars at the nearby walk-in clinic. Most of the time, the doctor would tell us that everything is normal and we had no reason to be worried. But of course we worried. We worried that we were making the wrong decision no matter what we chose to do and, more often than not, we were totally overreacting.

But better safe than sorry, right?

3. “Every Kid Is Different”

Perhaps one of the most common parenting cliches thrown around, the one that’s supposed to provide comfort to struggling parents, is that every child is going to be different. This ties back into the second point, because this “advice” is oftentimes given to parents who are worried their kids aren’t quite “normal” or they’re not quite on the right track.

Why isn’t little Nathan crawling yet? My nephew Arthur was already crawling at that age. Julie doesn’t talk very much. Should I be worried about her language development skills? My friend’s daughter Celeste was chatting up a storm by that age. Aw, why is little Harry shying away from all the other kids at preschool? Why can’t he be more social like his classmate Nora?

Because every kid is different. And that’s okay. The world would be awfully boring if we were all exactly the same, don’t you think?

4. “Say Goodbye to Sleep”

This is just simple math and, as you may have figured out, these equations don’t exactly work in your favor. Consider this. A newborn baby needs to be fed (at least) every three hours or so and even more frequently than that when he or she starts cluster feeding.

But it’s not just the feeding (which can be overwhelmingly stressful on its own). There’s the inevitable diaper change to go with it (plus possible additional diaper changes because you can never be completely sure they’re totally done), plus the time it takes to lull the baby back to sleep again. This cycle of feed, change and lull — which can take upwards of an hour or more — continues clear through the night. At least every three hours.

It’s no surprise that parents are perpetually sleep-deprived as a result. It gets better, but I’m still always tired. Parenting is exhausting.

5. “You Won’t Understand Until You Have One Yourself”

It’s like learning how to ride a bike, except you’ll be riding a roller coaster of emotions the whole time. It doesn’t matter how many books you read or how many videos you watch. Until you hop onto that saddle, grab those handlebars, and start pedaling for yourself, you will never learn how to ride a bike.

Parenting is much the same way. You may think you’ve got a handle on the situation, because you’ve dealt with tangentially-related activities. Maybe you have experience as a babysitter or working in a daycare. Maybe you have a dog. But until you’ve got a helpless little human relying on you for 100% of its needs 24 hours a day, you can’t really know.

It’s totally cliche, but it’s totally true. What else have you heard? It’s just a phase? Having a kid makes parents illogical? All parents do is complain about how hard it is, but they wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world?