That old hag

Dear Heather,

Today you turn four hundred and twenty months old. Yes, this means you’re old enough to have gone insane and are now writing letters to yourself. If the twenty-two-year-old Heather could see you now, she’d fall over from embarrassment. And in that case, please kick that twenty-two-year-old squarely in the stomach. One, she’ll recover much more quickly than you would now. And two, she needs to prepare for the pain of childbirth.

So, what do you have to say for yourself? Well, I think the first thing is, you don’t feel like you’re thirty-five years old. You just don’t, and as that number gets higher each year you get more confused as to why you still feel like you’re in your late twenties. This is called senility, and it means that eventually you’re going to end up in a bed where a nurse has to carry out your pee in a plastic bowl while you scream, “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SOUL ASYLUM?”

I think you should be proud of yourself, even though right now, this second as you’re writing this letter, you totally feel like shitting your pants. You and Jon just made one of the hugest life-altering decisions of your marriage, and because the dust around this decision hasn’t really settled just yet, you are trying to hold it together moment to moment. More than usual even, and that’s saying a lot since usually you guys wake up and either someone has broken a limb or one of the dogs has dissolved into a four-foot puddle of diarrhea in the kitchen.

You’re married to your soul mate, have given birth to two of the most amazing daughters you could have dreamed of, and all of you have your health. The dogs follow you around the house. You own a home. A dream home. You own a car that doesn’t need any work. Not only do you and your parents still speak to each other, you adore and admire each other equally. You and your sister who have really nothing in common talk to each other on the phone almost every other day. You’ve got an amazing set of friends, many of whom you could call in the middle of the night if you needed anything. You have food to eat, clothes to wear, and a giant bed to hold you at night. Not to mention the fact that you’ve published a New York Times Bestselling book.

You write a website whose audience saved your life.

You’re damn lucky, and I know you work hard because you know just how lucky you are. You probably work too hard at times, and the balance between that drive to work and the need to give more attention to your immediate family eludes you, and maybe that’s the most important reason I’m writing this to you. Because if I take a step back and look at you as a friend and listen to what worries you and gnaws at the back of your brain, it’s not whether you’re good enough at what you do professionally, it’s whether or not you’re living up to what your own mother meant to you.

You have a lot to work on. Mainly, patience. Mainly, letting go. Mainly, releasing the urgency that twists and turns your daily life into knots and stern words and eventual heartbreaking apologies. Because if you make it another thirty-five years, you’re going to look back and want to kick this incarnation of you in the stomach, or at least shake her by the shoulders. You must stop more often. Your kids will never be this age again, will never babble incoherently, will never look at you in total seriousness and say, “But the chore board is boring. I just want to spend the money I would have made if I had done the chores.”

Calm your life down.

I know you’re working on this, but I want you to work harder. I need you to work harder. Don’t let the day-to-day limb breaking or canine diarrhea or the deadline after deadline after deadline get in the way of living the memories you want to create. That’s the wise old thirty-five-year-old speaking to the out of her mind can’t get a moment’s peace thirty-five-year-old who just needs a bit of a nudge, the one who used to babble incoherently herself.

Rewind four hundred and eleven months

Love,
The woman who is going to want to kick you in the stomach in thirty-five-years

PS. HOLY SHIT. After what happened today, maybe this isn’t your fault! Maybe you just attract this kind of chaos into your life! I bet you can’t wait to tell this story!

  • olgapb

    Happy Birthday! Cheers to you and your family!

  • Karyn

    Happy Birthday, dearest Heather. You have made me laugh and cry over the years. You inspired me to start my own blog. When you have a success, I am happy for you. That’s rare, too, cuz usually with other people, I’m just like “how come THAT bitch gets to have all the fun?”

    Here’s to more happy years for you, and can’t wait to hear about your DOD (drama-of-the-day).

  • DeniseandJohn

    Happy Birthday, Heather! So glad you were born. I have been following your blog for a long time. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with all of us.
    Denise
    http://www.johndeniseadoption.blogspot.com

  • DeniseandJohn

    Happy Birthday, Heather! Glad you were born. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with all of us. Love your blog and your new house!
    Best Wishes,
    Denise
    http://www.johndeniseadoption.blogspot.com

  • Ommax3

    Happy Birthday!

    And, Dear dear Heather…give yourself a break…you are a real mom, perfect for your family, and that “realness” will mean more to your girls than perfection any day…

    besides…what will they blog about if their mom doesn’t do crazy things during their childhood???

    :) Blessings!

  • nantz

    You are getting really good at your “teasers” and it is driving me CRAZY.

    Love the photo, love reading about you and Jon, love hearing about Leta. I am still warming up to “Mario”… I kid!!! She’s almost as pretty as Leta.

    Happy birthday, dear Heather. You make my day more often than I should allow you to!

  • dolphy36

    Happy birthday, Heather. I wish you all the very best. Once again, you hit the nail on the head and spoke DIRECTLY to me. All that about slowing down and being in the moment is something I tell myself over and over again. I’m about to be 43…time doesn’t go by any slower. I wish this lesson would become reality in my life.

    You rock, girl.

  • crikkett

    Happy Birthday!

    It is a fabulous day to be born. I happen to know, I came into this crazy world 28 years ago today!

    It’s so strange how birthdays change so swiftly. 7 years ago I was drinking myself unconscious, and tonight I made pasta and ate before 7pm with my grandmother. HA! And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I hope you had a fabulous birthday. You don’t look a day over your twenties!

  • Tricia

    Happy Birthday, Heather!

    Can we play a guessing game about your earth-shattering news? I’m guessing you’ve decided to adopt a third child. Is that insane? Probably, but all things considered, I don’t think “insane” is outside the realm of possibility for you guys….

    Love, love, love Dooce; please don’t let the big decision be your retirement.

  • Enatural7

    Happy Birthday!! Doesn’t it feel good to know that you were a gorgeous baby? You know you were because Marlo is and she is YOU!

    I can’t wait to hear the news!

  • Spambot

    MARIJUANAAAAAAA!!!

  • nkash001

    Wow, Marlo is the spitting image of you as a baby, Heather!

    Happy 35th!

  • isabelblakely

    So, you guys decided to GET CHICKENS???

    I’m 36, and I just read in some intellectual rag a la Cosmo that this is the age when a woman is at her “most beautiful.” I’m not sure about that, but it’s definitely just getting better and better for me in lots of ways…I hope it does for you too.

    Happy birthday from a Sister in Insanity!

    Isabel

    http://talesfrombedlamblog.blogspot.com/

  • Couture Coco

    MANY HAPPY RETURNS OF THE DAY!
    Your girls are so a d o r a b l e/e d i b l e! 35? 35! 35 is GREAT. Enjoy!
    I totally understand one part of what I think the message is trying to get through to you, maybe because I’ve been going through the same thing myself. My kids are 8.5, 7 and 5 and I just can’t believe how mind blowingly wonderful they are.

    I take absolutely no credit for them. At all. They are themselves. I’ve now cut many of my responsibilities to other people, other things, other places and will devote more time to them because I want more memories, more experiences with them. It’s the least I can do as their mother – they’re not gonna get another one, that’s for sure.
    http://www.couturecoco.wordpress.com

  • Jean76

    Thank you so much.

    This letter could have been written to me (minus the words “New York Times best selling”, and then switching 35 with 34, switching Jon with Nick, and switching diarrhea with vomit).

    Very good wake up call.

  • Victoria_Girl

    Hey, happy birthday Heather. Love and love.

  • BlesstheFunk

    Happy Birthday Heather. This site and the community mean alot to me, thank you.

    Your present (albeit irreverent): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Palmer_Performs_the_Popular_Hits_of_Radiohead_on_Her_Magical_Ukulele

    Love this blog, wish you all the best.

  • Pixie

    Happy Birthday to an inspirational lady! What a delight you are and what a wonderful world you share. Here’s to many, many, many, more healthy, wonderful, years! Cheers to you.

  • JetLime

    Happy birthday Heather! You have achieved great things and I hope that behind all the stress and day-to-day worry, you are really proud. I would be. I’m turning 35 in a couple of months and your letter made me list my “achievements” in my head… sadly, far less impressive.
    So when it all seems too much, just look around. Look at your house, your loving hubby and most of all, your two beautiful daughters, all healthy. What else matters?
    P.S. Have to agree with the others, Marlo does look like you!

  • MrsRoo

    Happy Birthday! My mother (at age 64) says she still feels 23. Maybe it’s senility, maybe you are just young at heart. Whatever it is, it looks good on you….keep it up!

    In terms of life-altering decisions, I just KNEW you’d get those sister-wives you always wanted eventually. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

  • edenland

    Hey Heather,

    35 is a magic age. It’s a very powerful number apparently, in the numerology world. Who knew!

    I have been reading you for a few years, but only recently went back into your achives and read about your breakdown and time spent in a psych ward. And how Jon came and visited you with baby Leta who was fed beans and you wrote about poor Jon having to change the nappy the next day.

    You write exquisitely. You actually really are pretty fucking amazingly talented, and strong, and beautiful. You’re a trendsetter, a trailblazer, boundary rider.

    Happy happy birthday. You have earnt your dream home and wonderful family and cool husband. Enjoy it while it’s all there, right in front of your eyes.

    Love Eden XO

  • koskersidlewild

    Happy Birthday Heather! Know that you inspire me frequently to continue to write and that has brought me so much joy!

    ~Julie
    http://www.lazygreenmama.weebly.com
    http://www.koskersidlewild.blogspot.com

  • PaigeWAydensMama

    Oh thanks, now we’re in total suspense about this life-altering decision. Grrar…
    Happy 35th birthday! I’m only 26, so I can’t really sympathize yet. :-D

  • cory212

    Happy Birthday Heather!! Can’t wait to hear the next chapter of your life. Thanks for sharing it all with us.

  • Bitter_Muse

    What ever happened to Soul Asylum? I can tell you because they just played a local festival: http://www.mchenrychamber.com/pages/events/fiesta_days.html

    Past acts have included Night Ranger and Eddie Money. I rocked out hard.

  • acm

    You’ll *always* feel like you’re in your late 20′s. I theorize that that’s when your identity (not wisdom, but basic outline) stabilizes enough to feel continuous with the current one. I’ve got a decade on you, and I’m still shocked when I see signs of aging on myself or can’t keep up my prior pace. I am as cute and as wild and as carefree as I was at 28, I tell you!

  • cablearms

    See – atleast one of your children kinda sorta do look like you. you weren’t just a mere pod for Jon Armstrong’s children…

    Happy Birthday ‘mentor’. I’m not going to say I don’t miss the old snarky Dooce (don’t hate or judge me for speaking out, Haters), but this post brought my old Dooce back to me. I know, I know… people evolve and that’s generally a good thing and if you don’t go forward then what’s the point, right? Maybe it’s because I miss all the swearing and right-out swearing (I mentioned swearing twice but it’s because I’m reading “It sucked” right now). I do commend you for this – your blog, having gone through your trials and tribulations, and coming out on the other side. You have helped a lot of women; I’m one of those crazy women and personally getting an email from you was a saving grace during my miscarriage.

    You’re good people, Heather. Have a happy birthday – you’ve come a long way, Virginia Slims :D
    Peace and Love, Peace and LOVE! (~Ringo Starr)

    cablearms.wordpress.com

  • jodfoster

    Happy birthday to my fellow 35 yr old. I just turned on July 1. 1975 was a great year, amirite? What are we going to do when we’re cougars?

  • napangel

    Happy, happy birthday, Heather Armstrong.

  • lesliepaige78

    happy birthday and you are AWESOME. i am so glad i stumbled upon this website a few years ago. you can be thought provoking, laugh out loud funny, crazy or some mixture of both but all of it is a joy and pleasure and helps me not feel so alone. i wish we were friends, but the INTERNET will have to do.
    leslie

  • dianaparkhouse

    P.S.S. And we can’t wait to hear it.

  • megrit411

    Happy birthday, Heather! 35 isn’t old. Because if it is then 30 is old and I AM NOT OLD! Sorry, lost my mind for a second.

    I’d like to interrupt the birthday posting for one second to say a big huge THANK YOU for your awesome website. YAY YOU! Hope you had a fabulous birthday with no diarrhea.

  • Jayceekay

    Holy mother!! You ARE Marlo! That can’t NOT be Marlo! Wow!

  • theurbancowgirl

    Very happy birthday, Heather!