toddlerhood (n): intense unpredictability

Toddlerhood in our house is, among other things, intense. The joy, excitement, and laughter abound. The things he finds funny are actually funny – like playing chase, rolling around on the ground, or waving DanO’s gloves or oven mitts around on his hands.

When we’re happy, we’re really really happy.


He is so quick to share that joy, too. If he had the words “Look what I can do!” he would use them non-stop.

(Please do not talk to me about how much my son needs a haircut. I know. I do. I’m just. I can’t do it. not yet. ::wipes tears:: He’s still my baby.)

(I think this stage is called denial. But that’s a whole other post.)


(O My 80’s, my boy has a mullet. I’m kind of ashamed.)

Yes, the shrieks of joy and the endless curiosity he emits are the very definition of intense.

As are his other emotions.

For example, he is not a fan of being told no, you may not hit mommy with the oven mitt.


Not a fan at all. Intensely dislikes being told no. Intensely.

I get it, I really do. I’m not being apathetic; I understand that he is just learning about and discovering these emotions and events as much as he is learning about and discovering positive events. All of this is learning and I don’t mean to imply that he is overreacting.

I can only imagine how it feels to be small and not feel like you are in control of your world because you don’t yet understand how it works. His feelings are valid.

But they are also intense. And change often.


Which means my day-to-day is intense. And changes often. It’s exhausting and unpredictable.

In fact, some days I just want to join right in and throw myself on the ground in despair and frustration.

Intense frustration.


It feels good, actually. Have you tried it lately? Get down there on the rug and kick your legs around a bit. It relieves a multitude of stresses. I highly recommend it.

And so does OBaby.

34 Responses to “toddlerhood (n): intense unpredictability”

  1. Megan

    Human aggression and intensity of emotion from a chemical/biological perspective peaks around two years old…good thing they aren’t any bigger yet :)!

  2. Brandy

    The roller coaster ride of toddlerhood, eh? Isn’t it AWESOME??

    {said by a momma who’s TIRED … and has had THREE straight days of overly cranky 2yo girl who keeps waking up at night for no apparent reason other than the need for a cuddle. And because said 2yo isn’t sleeping straight through, it means many, many meltdowns.}

    {also said by a momma who has a 2yo we’ve lovingly nicknamed Boss Lady. She also does not like to be told “no”. Tough patootie, kiddo, I say … standing up on a chair with wheels that leans back just ain’t cool.}

    {and I, apparently, like parenthesis too}

  3. annemarie

    Oh my word, Lucy is so the same. Oven mitts, check. Exuberant joy, check. Devastating, world ending sadness when mean mama says no, check. Giant lip of sadness, check. Mama who can’t decide if she’s going stark raving mad or loving every minute, check!

  4. Michelle

    Awh! Those last ones make me want to cry!

    And yes, I have thrown myself on the ground and pounded my fists and kicked my legs. I totally agree, it’s completely stress relieving! I throw fits at God all the time. He can handle it! :) and I totally recommend it too!

  5. Maggie

    O MAMA. Only you could take the frustration of raising a toddler and make it sing. I’m so proud of you: for your commitment to your son and for writing about it so beautifully. Keep pressing on! PS I’m praying many silent prayers that he continues with the whole napping thing. :)

  6. Nicole Drysdale-Rickman

    I am right there with you on my 16 month old needing to trim the mullet and he is our LAST baby and it is our LAST first hair cut and i am so, so, so sad and i just cannot either. too sad.

    OBaby is even cute throwing a tantrum!

    and ps….you rock at putting down my thoughts exactly in your posts…

  7. kate

    omg do not cute his hair!!!! it is too cute that way. when my oldest was young we let it grow into a “surfer do” as I called it. So adorable until summer came! I love your little man and his hair..too cute for words!

  8. Jennifer S.

    Such a perfect post! My daughter just turned 2 and we have these moments every few hours (or so it seems!). It gets easier and then they will start a few new phase and it gets bad again and then much better. It’s a crazy cycle but never the same, usually hilarious (if not right away, later) and provides great stories.

    Also? As I said my daughter is 2 and we still have not gotten her hair cut (by we I mean me). I cannot bring myself to do it. Cannot do it. Those little baby curls on the end are her baby hair and I just love them. You are not alone my friend.

  9. Cole

    Mommy and I had an “intense” day yesterday… She ran out the door when Daddy came home and went to a movie by herself for some quiet time! She’ll have to try the tantrum thing…

  10. Ashlie

    Awwww….keep those shabby, surfer, hippie locks as long as you can….cuz when you get a “short cut”…they start to look older and more “big boy like” :( (I’ve 3 boys – all 5 and under) Plus it makes them especially cute when they have tantrums ;-)

  11. Heather of the EO

    There are so many things you are so good at understanding, lady. Things it takes most of us a long time to accept and validate, etc. And I love how you allow yourself to be frustrated and say that you are. We need to say it or we compare ourselves to other moms and wonder if we’re the only one that can’t handle it all.

    a long time ago I was struck with this thought: motherhood is constant intense opposite clashing emotions. Ours and theirs. That’s exhausting.

    You rock.

    • AllisonO

      Hehe. I feel you. I use a lot of “That’s not for Micah.” and “Icky, we don’t play with that.” and when I can I try to say specifically what he should be doing, like “Buddy, we keep our feet on the ground.” instead of “Don’t climb on that.”

      But even with variation, feeling like a broken record is inevitable. You’re just a broken record with more tracks. ;)

  12. Lisa H.

    Jack is 18 months and I know exactly how you feel! I have to catch myself and realize these emotions are new to him and he doesn’t know how exactly to express them yet. And cut his hair whenever you want to, you’re the mom :-)

  13. EvC

    I soooo hear you on this. Our little guy is so happy and full of life, but tell him “No, you can’t open the cabinet under the sink and play with Comet” and you would think the world as we know it has ended. Poor kids, you are right, it must be so frustrating.

    And on another note – don’t worry about the haircut!!! I finally caved and had my son’s hair cut, only because it was in his eyes and did not have a lick of curl so it was getting in his way more and more. It was sad, we kept some locks and got a cute certificate from the Barber shop. As sad as I was for that ‘end of babyhood’ moment, I was quickly filled with joy at the sheer adorableness of his new cute. And he was so darn proud of it, as any 16 month old would be :-)

  14. Andrea

    That is my not so distant future!c I’m looking forward to it… I think. :) As long as others have been there before me (and blog about it) I’ll be set.

  15. Amanda

    I am so. there. Except sometimes when my 2yo son throws a tantrum all I want to do is laugh… maybe some kind of defense mechanism so I don’t cry or go insane… but sometimes the things they whine about are just too funny! :) I will say, it seems to be getting easier to handle tantrums. I’m learning not to take them so personally, and to tune him out a bit. I also like to think about how God sees me when I’m throwing a fit… does he sometimes just laugh?!

  16. Mama Marchand

    I read a story about a mom who was tired of weathering the tantrum storms with her little ones (not suggesting that yours throws tantrums – this is just her situation). One day, she got down on the ground and threw a fake tantrum when her kids flipped out … they stopped, stared wide-eyed at her, and were quiet. She did it the next time and by time four, they never threw tantrums again.

    Now, I don’t know if this actually works but it’s worth a shot, right?

  17. Kaitlin Cole

    Oh dear! I LOVE this! My boy just hit 17 months and started throwing tantrums. HE has always been a sweet and obedient baby and then he turned on me! I HATE the phrase terrible twos because (like you) I understand this is totally a needed season in his life to figure out how everything works but man! It is crazy! You would think I killed his dog or something! He flips out, my sweet baby!
    Also, I LOVE your boys hard!

  18. Stephanie

    Thanks for the tip – I think I will try it! My daughter is 19 months and we are experiencing the same range of emotions. There is a lot estrogen and emotion in this house :) Glad it’s not just us and that I’m not crazy!

  19. Kimberly

    Oh man do I know the many faces of toddler. I like to dub my son as being more dramatic than Kanye West. My kid? The king of tantrums….especially in public places!

  20. AngieSalgy

    My toddler is turning…13 years!! this Saturday, but this post (and pictures) brought that toddler age back so clearly :) The battle of the wills, the sticky fingers, and the precious curly baby hair that you just can’t cut, not quite yet. Believe it or not, I’d go back in a heartbeat :) Thank you for pulling up those dusty memories, Mama!

  21. Molly

    Precious pictures. Question? So when he kicks and screams do you just let him go and ignore him? Or, do you change his focus?
    My sweetheart is 12.5 months and “no” has recently given her some heartache, but if I direct her attention elsewhere she’s totally fine.
    Am I screwing her up already?

  22. Molly

    I worked at a preschool my senior year of college. I had a terrible day one day, and one of our toddlers left kicking and screaming. I looked at the head teacher and said “Sometimes I think toddlers have the right idea.”

    She agreed. It looks so satisfying.

  23. Tracy

    I found you from The Bump win…sticking around because I really like your blog! Also…DO NOT CUT THE HAIR!!!!! Not until you’ve been ready for at least six months (or years) I took both of my kids at once. My toddler boy was on the right and my little girl was on the left. I turned from my toddler boy for an instant to check on my little girl, and seconds later when I turned back, there was a preschooler sitting where my toddler had been. >sniffle< Still chokes me up! Don't do it until you're ready, and then wait another six months (or years!) So not kidding about that!

    • AllisonO

      O NO! I totally cut it yesterday. And then sobbed and sobbed to DanO in bed last night.

      REGRET AND A HALF. I want so badly to tape his sweet baby curls back on.

  24. Sara

    O My! I just went through that about two weeks ago. As soon as he took his first steps, my 13-month-old DillyBean traded in his baby ways and started acting like a toddler. Just. Like. That. It was like someone flipped a switch. Now that I have adjusted to his new way of being, we are both doing a lot better, but it was a bit of an adjustment to say the least. BTW, OBaby is gorgeous. Even in mid-tantrum.


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