My son is two-and-a-half. At this age he is a challenge and a joy. (I expect he always will be, only in different ways). When I'm seated, he delights in hugging my neck from behind, nearly choking me. He insists on pouring his own rice milk, opening the garage himself, and starting each day with a formidable pile of books to be read to him. He plunges underwater fearlessly during swim lessons but refuses to kick or follow instructions.
His potty training is currently a sore point for me: he's been wearing training underwear for most of this year, and while he's very consistent when it matters (rarely dirtying his pants), he just doesn't want to use the toilet at any other time. This means that at least one of our fabric-topped bar stools is wet for most of the day, and there's a good chance that the carseat and carpet are sporting a damp spot as well. Because potty training was a much faster process with my daughter, I find this season aggravating at times.
But so much of my response as a parent depends on my expectations. Having been through toddlerhood before (albeit with our daughter), I know that his more challenging moments are struggles that will fade with time--likely within a year or two. I recognize that his physicality is an energetic expression of love, and his fierce independence is a path towards confidence.
In this third trimester of pregnancy with his younger sibling, I tend to react towards him with anger when I'm most tired, but when I'm able to replace that rising aggravation with patience and tolerance, I see him as he is: so young, and so new to the struggles within and around him. Extending grace seems to be the best way to remember the context of his precious toddlerhood.