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I love my toddler. She’s spunky, cute, and spirited. She makes me laugh. She gives me hugs. She screeches with joy when I walk through door after we’ve been separated for any length of time. Sometimes, she sits on my lap and peacefully watches 20 minutes of “Sesame Street” so I can catch up on email. Other times, she dances along to the radio with her squishy little legs moving to their own beat and I swear, my heart bursts right out of my chest at the sight. But let’s be real. Like a lot of toddler-moms, I have a sneaky suspicion. Despite the fact that I know, deep-down, that she’s a happy little girl, and of course that she loves me, on the daily I swear the kid is trying to kill me. How so? Let me count the ways.

1. She’s become the pickest eater imaginable. She changes her mind daily — make that hourly — about what foods she will and will not eat. She’ll eat an entire container of blueberries and nothing else one day, and as soon as I buy more, she spits them out on my hand, crying and saying, “No.”

2. She pulls off her diapers. My daughter takes her diaper off, especially when it’s soiled, and even through layers of clothes. She does this in her crib, on our couch, and charmingly, in public, too! So fun.

3. She’s bossy about my hair. Forget putting my hair up in pony tails and mom-buns, the kid screams like she’s being attacked if I pull back so much as one strand of hair, even in the summer heat. Thus, I have two hair speeds now: blown dry and bouncy (once a month), or absolutely disgusting but still hanging drably around my face.

4. Her public tantrums are epic. I know by now better than to care what other people think about us, but really, could we tone it down just a tiny bit with the all-out meltdowns in public? They’re constant and they leave me sweaty, frantic, and totally mortified.

5. She has a fiery disdain for car rides. Especially convenient when we have a list of errands that have to get done and no one around to help. And yes, I’ve tried toys, snacks, and (reluctantly) a tablet or phone to entertain her back there. Nothing. Makes. It. Better.

6. She hates to bathe. This problem has been ongoing since her infant days, but at 30 pounds it’s increasingly more difficult to shower while holding her. The best part? She is also a lover of mud, bugs, and lying on the floor in public. Near-nightly bath battles have become a draining part of my day.

7. Her social behavior is totally unpredictable. I try to do park trips or library reading hours as often as possible to socialize my daughter, and sometimes she’ll walk up to a stranger’s kid and gently take her hand. Other times, she’ll slip out of my arms and smack someone on the face before I’ve even had a chance to process what’s happening.

8. She torments our dog. This poor, skittish rescue dog thought he’d found a happy home with us pre-baby, but now there is a tail-pulling, body-slamming, toy-snatching, occasionally cuddly creature following him all around the house. I just can’t take those sad, why-did-you-do-this-to-me eyes from him. Sorry, Pup, she’s staying.

9. She pulls behavior fake-outs. We’ll have one of those lovely mornings in Toddlerland where breakfast is consumed peacefully, Mommy’s hand is held on a walk, and even the dog gets tons of kisses. I’ll be so bold as to trust the temperament and make a plan that involves leaving the house, only for her to reach nuclear drama queen status once we arrive at our destination.

10. She refuses to nap. Okay, seriously, this is the worst. My toddler is totally still a baby, and we both need that long afternoon nap — her, to not be a monster later and me, to actually get sh*t done. But about once a week, she decides it’s absolutely not happening, no matter what I try, leaving us both in tears by the time my husband gets home at 7:30.

11. Her curiosity is dangerous. I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter’s inquisitive mind, but does she really need to find out the hard way what happens if you try to balance your entire body on the top of a chair back? Or wriggle your head in between the rungs of a banister?

12. She keeps getting bigger. Probably worst of all, my toddler keeps on insisting to grow. As much as her antics drive me nuts, I know there’s such a short window of time to kiss those chubby cheeks and have her call out for “Mama” constantly. There are days when I want to just curl up in a corner and take a 24-hour nap away from my life as a toddler-mom, but in truth I wouldn’t change a thing, because I love this crazy-cute stage in all its messy glory.

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