21 Things Only Moms Who Have Dealt with a Threenager Know

For every mom who worries about how potentially bad the terrible twos might be, there is a mom who has survived having a 3-year-old slowly rocking in a dark corner counting down the days until she’s an empty nester.

Having toddlers was exhausting because I was always running around trying to make sure they weren’t about to cause themselves bodily harm. Once their third birthdays hit? It was all mental harm. My mental harm — and there was no protecting myself from it.

I remember one time my daughter started freaking out in the kitchen, scared to death. After assuring her that the object of terror was just a harmless yellow wall, she stopped crying and happily danced away. Now, imagine that emotional rollercoaster taking those kind of dives every five to ten minutes, 24 hours a day, for exactly 12 months. That’s what it’s like having a 3-year-old. Here are some more examples that anyone who has ever had a threenager can absolutely relate to:

1. The total mind screw that is potty training.

2. His audible reaction to your gentle suggestion that he takes a nap makes the neighbors think you’re killing cats for sport.

3. That the switch from having a deliciously charming toddler to having a psychological terrorist living among you is swift and shocking.

4. At times you suspect she hates you.

5. It’s so adorable when he “reads” his board books to you before bed, until the moment he throws it at your head when he’s done.

6. What it’s like to have a three-foot-tall person pissed off at you for not getting her a $600 smart phone.

7. He insists on feeding himself like a big boy but mostly just feeds his cheeks/shirt/lap.

8. That she’s totally old enough to not be in a stroller anymore but you totally don’t have the mental energy to deal with asking her to HURRY UP FOR CRIPES SAKE a thousand times per yard of distance needed to be traveled.

9. The hilarious horror of hearing him loudly say exactly what you’re thinking in public, like, “It smells like poopy monkey fart in dis elevator.”

10. Her expected bedtime is theoretical.

11. Pretending you’re sad to see your baby go to school for the first time then doing cartwheels on the way back to your blessedly silent car.

12. How he can make you belly laugh until you cry as well as cry until you belly laugh.

13. “Irrational” is her middle name.

14. Loving that your genuinely curious tot really does want to know “Why?” everything, but also wanting to bash your head against a wall to make it stop after the 300th “Why?” that day.

15. You get so swoony over witnessing him make new friends on his own that you stare at them like a creeper with tears in your eyes.

16. You don’t really like her new friends.

17. He only wants, “I DO MYSELF MAMA!” when it’s something that will take one million times longer than you have time for him to do.

18. The tantrums are even worse than the ones she had when she was 2, but you’ve been a parent long enough now that you only respond by dryly saying, “Let me know when you’re done here, princess” then go back to sipping your coffee.

19. That someone who weighs 30 pounds can magically increase his density to weigh approximately five times that when he doesn’t want to get in his car seat.

20. The excitement over signing her up for team sports and activities for the first time until you realize how expensive all that sh*t is.

21. He has two moods: raging mad at you or adorably in love with you.

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Graphic: Kim Bongiorno