• The Prima Momma

    As a mother to a 4 going on 16 year old, I totally understand and support your self-censoring. Also, as a mother to a 4 going on 16 year old, I will fill in my own blanks and take comfort in the knowledge that I am not alone!!

  • TigerLily

    Heather, I have boy/girl twins who will be 11 next month. I knew from a very early age (hell, I knew during my pregnancy!) that my daughter was going to be a handful, but I always assumed the difficult years were somewhere down the road. Say, the teen years perhaps? Wishful thinking! There is something about the mother-daughter relationship that just makes it hard sometimes. I think daughters are harder on their moms, and moms are harder on their daughters. It’s just a tricky relationship at times. I love my daughter to the ends of the earth, but sometimes being her mom is just plain difficult. She’s headstrong and so am I, and that makes for a sometimes tumultuous relationship (you used the word complicated and it describes my relationship with my daughter perfectly). And it started much earlier than I ever imagined. Thankfully the trying times are far outweighed by the amazing, beautiful and touching moments in which I feel so incredibly blessed to be a mother.

    Hang in there. You and Leta are going to be just fine.

    (For what it’s worth, I applaud your decision to allow Leta her privacy. It’s the right thing to do.)

  • bostonanna

    Yikes, but I definitely understand the censoring. I remember being five (we had just moved into a new house) and my mum telling one of her friends something I had done that she thought was silly, but I thought was embarassing. I was so upset at her! And I was only five! So yeah, it is a good idea. Helps preserve the trust in your mother-daughter relationship, because even if a five year old doesn’t quite understand the exact definition of a word, or how to spell it, she certainly knows how it feels.

    But I do miss hearing about her!

  • dooce

    @The Prima Momma and @TigerLily:

    YES. AND YES. AND YES YES YES.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    Nothing about a mother daughter relationship is clear cut. Not even the best of them. The ups and downs will be both heartwarming and heartwrenching. But you are a great mother and you will get through it. My mom and I did. And I really do love her, even though I may have said the contrary several times a day from 7 to 17. Respecting Leta’s privacy is something everyone should be able to understand. But we do miss those tumbling red curls and sweet half smile she always has. Maybe since she and Jon look so much alike you should just get him a long auburn colored wig and snag her glasses after she falls asleep. It will give the Internet our fix:-)

  • TropicalPopsicle

    I suspected this time would come where you would write less about Leta. I think it’s wise of you to let Leta decide if she wants to be as public as her mama and respect her privacy if that’s what she wants.

    I do hope she gives you permission some day because I sure miss her! Good luck with things. I have no doubt you’ll get through it with wisdom gained.

    I’m loving these stories about Daisy-Bobo!

  • Greta Koenigin

    Wow. Just two hours ago I was wondering aloud, What is wrong with our wonderful 7 year-old girl? She’s sullen and touchy and I’m way too sullen and touchy to not take it personally. And it hurts.

    Too bad you can’t change her name to something like Lucille Ball and share with us anyway.

    Hang in there. And we’ll all just know that we are together in our unspoken aloneness.

  • jacqueline

    Reading recommendation: Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, if you haven’t read it yet. Not entirely related to this post, but it’s about mother-daughter relationships.

  • dfunkmcgunk

    I was a lot like Leta when I was her age (I am now 30). My sister was born when I was 6, and it changed the whole dynamic of my life. My sister was as different from me as night is from day. I was a very emotional, sensitive, and “feeling” child and it was very hard to connect with my mother because she was very unavailable emotionally.

    I say as long as Leta always knows you are there for her physically AND emotionally, both of you will be fine. If someone had taken more time to sit down with me and be more in-tune to my feelings, I would have been a lot happier. The fun, wild baby is always going to get a lot of attention, but even if that older child is acting like it doesn’t bother them – it does, and even if they’re acting like they don’t want attention – they do.

  • Juliasarmoire

    My mom used to say I was the sweetest child ever. Then I turned six. We somewhat were able to communicate with proper full sentences again when I turned 20. So there is still some hope for you too ;)

  • Camels and Chocolate

    What is it about today’s little girls growing up so damn fast? I’m not a parent (well of a dog baby girl but that’s it), but you’re about the fifth blogger I’ve read in recent weeks who has a five- to nine-year-old, who in the emotional and rebellious sense, might as well already be going through puberty! God speed. Maybe if she’s like this now, you get a free pass come 13?

  • Amy J.

    I have two daughters…8 and 5. My oldest has always reminded me of Leta in her personality, so much. By the time my daughter was three I knew I was in for it. By the time she started preschool, so did her teachers…she could argue with a man six foot five and not bat an eye. By the time she was four, I was wondering if she might be autistic (not kidding there). By five, I was worried…but she was still so amazingly smart and charming that I tried not to. By the time she was in first grade…well, it was not a good year. My HIGH IQ child, the one going to the magnet school that people talked about everywhere she went because she sounded like an adult, was put in in-school suspension and was getting into trouble for not listening daily. We were in screaming matches daily it seemed and I was beyond stressed with worry over what was going on. I began to dread being around her. Honest to God…sorry if that sounds harsh.

    And then…

    It all went away. ALL OF IT (well mostly…we still have issues, BELIEVE ME!!). Her second grade year of elementary school she just blossomed…I didn’t hear ONE word from her teacher about misbehavior or hyperactivity or being difficult or too strong willed. NOT ONCE. Her moods stabilized…her confidence soared. She stunned her father and I…and we were so beyond glad that it was OVER!!

    Then guess what?

    Her five year old sister became a little shithead!! Seriously…the kid who’d been our version of Marlo…smiling and beaming light literally everywhere she went began acting like such a brat,a COMPLETE change in personality, so much so that I began to wonder…is she autistic (sorry…it has to do with her not being able to sit still or look at us when we address her etc…not meant to be negative or anything)…or if she was possibly developing diabetes, like her sister has…

    We are still in the midst of daughter number two running us through the grist mill daily. Oh dear Lord how the child can annoy you and make you want to pull your hair out (though she is SO sweet and still precious…yet loud, hyper and so VERY messy! And hard headed…there are no words for how hard headed either of them are! I have NO idea where they get it from…she says sheepishly)

    Would it be different with sons? I doubt it Heather. I really do. I think it’s just this age. FIVE is really bad. Two was nothing with both my girls…but five nearly killed me…going into six. It was a shitstorm.

    So, I feel ya girl. I really, REALLY do. Oh, the stories my husband could tell you. And while I don’t want to scare you and make you dread the future, but the next fun phase you will experience is sibling rivalary and sisters. OMG, mine have been competing since the smallest one could move!! They fought just tonight over who got what to eat for dinner!! It’s DAILY. It’s like living with a married couple who can’t stand each other, but can’t stand to be apart! The playing…the fighting…the bickering and competing. I never knew how much it would encompass their daily lives as sisters, especially since I’m 15 younger than my own.

    Ok, that’s my brutal honesty about my lovely girls…who I adore and would kill for…but sometimes really would like to take a vacation from in a QUIET location without any female DRAMA!! ; )

  • Dani

    First good luck with whatever is going on. In my opinion the mother daughter relationship is one of the most complex there is.

    Second it’s okay to be carefull and respect Letas privacy. Sure your readers all feel like we know her and want to know she’s doing okay but it’s not really our busines. Every time I post somethng about my daughter I think “Is she going to hate me for this later?”. Of corse I only have like ten readers and probably eight of them are family but I doubt that will matter to her someday if she’s ever offended by anything I’ve posted.

    You’re being a mom first and a writer second. Anyone who can’t respect that can just suck cheese.

  • dolphy36

    I am the mom of a 7 yr old boy, and I have friends who have daughters the same age…oh, boy, oh boy–I think I have a clue of what you are alluding to! And I think you are making the absolute right choices in filtering your inclusion of her. The day will come, if it hasn’t already, where her knowing that you have chosen to do this will be of huge importance to her and her relationship with you…and nothing is more important to a mom than that!

  • arishell

    My complicated relationship with my daughter started early as well. She is stubborn and so am I. My husband warned me that things would only get uglier if we continued on that way.

    Luckily, as she has gotten older (she is only 12 1/2) things have gotten MUCH better. Maybe I have gotten more relaxed. I don’t know and I don’t care. We coexist in a much easier, happier way. I don’t hug her in public, or sing in the car (much) and she is happy and a joy to be around.

    Hang in there – thanks for the update!

  • kristanhoffman

    Ditto what TropicalPopsicle and jacqueline said. Also, I would recommend adding Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood to the list. SUCH a good mother-daughter story.

  • jetblack615

    I don’t have children, but I applaud the amount of thought you have given (and continue to give) to Leta’s boundaries and the cues that you take from her.

    She’ll probably be writing her own blog soon, anyway. And when she does, sign me up.

  • psweet

    Everytime you mention Bobo I look at the url to be sure I’m not reading me. My blog is about me and my dogs surviving life after my husband died. And yes Bobo is one of the dogs!

  • meeps

    Oh I just feel for you so much. I’m 26, and the thought of having a daughter like myself at that age is almost enough for me to swear off procreation altogether. I’ve just started to realize all the pain I probably brought my mom, and I just want to hug her and apologize over and over and over again for the lengthy rough patch in our relationship.

    Somewhere around 19, although I thought I hadn’t changed, suddenly my mom seemed so much smarter.

    It will get better, I promise. I don’t know how or when, but I do know it will get better. At least, that’s the mantra i’ll adopt when I birth a terrifying version of myself someday.

  • apostate

    I went through the teenage thing when I was seven.
    My mom remembers sitting on top of me while I was on my bed with her hands around my neck screaming “I’m going to kill you!”.
    (I have no memory of this so either it wasn’t as bad as she describes it or she was having a night terror and never realized it.)
    I’d like to think I made up for it during the teen years when I never drank, smoked pot, or tried to sneak out of the house. And I attended all my church meetings with vigor.
    But then I made up for that about 10 years later by apostatizing.

    All in all, if you add everything up and divide by 33, I think she got a good deal.
    I think you probably will too.

    (So far no anti-vaccination comments which is a good sign.)

  • Caitlyn Nicholas

    I can really relate to what you said about not writing about Leta.

    My blog used to be about my kids as babies, but at the start of this year when Miss 6 started Kindi I began to get less and less comfortable writing about the things that went on at home. It just didn’t seem fair to them.

    So I changed the direction of the blog, more about myself, my garden and my efforts to live sustainably. Yes the kids still get a mention now and then, especially when they’ve done something really colourful, but they are not the full focus. There are less photos of them as well. Still the odd one, but not a regular thing.

    I also found that as they get older, life gradually (oh so very gradually) became less manic and full on. Having them both in the routine of school reduces the chance of funny spontaneous things happening – which is a little sad, but good that things are moving on.

    Best wishes and thanks for a great blog
    Cait

  • sweetpotatopie

    I know!! We survived the “Terrible Twos” and the “Fucking Threes”…and then (in my experience) she was a DREAM for, oh, a few months when she was 4. And then the REAL drama starts. My daughter is 9 and I literally break out in a cold sweat almost daily when I think about her teenage years.

    Raising girls is fucking HARD. You are SO not alone.

    Will you please write a book about this some day, so that others know they aren’t alone? WITH Leta’s permission, of course.

  • Mom to 3TinyTots

    I miss Leta.

  • Crazy Card Lady

    Thank you for sharing Heather. My heart goes out to you. I found that the first child takes it pretty hard when the second child comes, no matter how well you think you have prepared them. When my second child was born 6 years after my first, it was heart wrenching to see how his reaction was to his little sister. It’s like postpartum depression, not something that people want to share. I thought there were times my kids were going to kill each other, but now they are older, 16 and 22, they adore each other. It will all be okay because you are aware that something is going on.

    P.S. My brother is 57 and still thinks my parents liked me best and wants little to do with me. It hurts, but I can’t do anything about it.

  • AshesVonDust

    I wish you the best of luck with both of your daughters.

    As everyone else has said, mother-daughter relationships can be Hell. My mother had an extremely tough time with my older sister (well, not many people do get along with her, but still!)
    Then she had me, and babied me, and taught me and took me places, and we became best friends. Even at my worst as a teen, I wasn’t that bad. We have always been close.

    I am so thankful for having my Mom.

    I totally get Leta’s reluctance to be in pics or be written about. I remember being a kid, and my mom would tell one of her work friends about something, and I would always be so embarassed!

    She told her work friend when I got my period for the first time when I was 11. WHO DOES THAT?!
    Moms do that. I was PISSED. But she told her friend because it’s an emotional time as a Mom, and she was sad and proud and all sorts of emotions.

    Anyways, way to jack your comment space with my own stuff xD
    Sorry!

    I’m sure that, as Leta gets older, things will get better and/or get worse at times, but in the end, you’ll have a complicated and difficult and beautiful relationship.

  • JustLinda

    You’ll work it out… you’ll figure out how to share the bits that are OK to share and still give your relationship with Leta some dimension in your writing. By plucking out and sharing the positive, it will help you to SEE the positive during a period of time where it may not always be so easy to do that.

    Props to you for thinking about her privacy and not writing publicly the stories you think might not be entirely yours to tell.

    JustLinda.net

  • JulieTheBloggerDotCom

    Hey Heather, if the girl’s (in the future) don’t want you blogging about them you start a pretty awesome dog blog. That would be hilarious, especially if you got like 10 more dogs.

    “Mommy blogger goes Doggie blogger, the story of Heather B. Armstrong!”

    lol.

    JulieTheBlogger.com – I want to change your outlook in on the world.

  • ChristineM

    I just wanted you to know that I used to hear about this in clinic ALL THE TIME when I worked as a general pediatrician (I’m ICU only now, but this was only about 4 years ago). It was that age range from 4-9 or so that seemed to be an even bigger issue than the early teens in girls. I agree completely that you should be respecting Leta’s wishes and posting less about her. In the big picture your family is much more important than readers on-line.

    Also, the pregnant woman in me is now secretly hoping this little baby is a boy.

  • Ranger

    My daughter has now reached an age that is in double digits beginning with a 5. We both survived and are bonded by that shared survivor-ship experience. There is hope . . .

  • malisams

    Honestly? Thank god for this blog.

    My husband and I don’t have kids yet, but I love that I can come here and get real-life anecdotes, advice, and affirmations about raising kids from all y’all. Every day we vacillate on whether we think it’ll be harder to raise a boy or a girl, and we both agree that the girl will probably kill us…but we want a little girl so much. And I feel like if we go into it at least knowing there’s a pretty good chance that a few years in she’ll turn into Satan in pigtails, we’ll be able to get through it a little saner, if not easier.

    So, you know, THANKS, y’all.

  • Domestic Goddess

    Yes. This is what I need to hear. A difficult relationship with the older child! I thought I was the only one. Some days I feel like he hates me, some days I dread hearing his footsteps on the stairs coming downstairs. I just don’t want the arguing, the tension, the drama and the anger. Honestly, my younger son is severely autistic and the OLDER one is more difficult to handle! The meltdowns and screaming and OCD-behaviors…Oy. Most nights I can hold it together ok but most nights I also want to cry going to bed, thinking I’m the worst mother in the world. At least he tells me I am daily. I know it’s silly to feel defeated by a 9yo but it’s the honest truth. I just feel plain defeated somedays, drained. And have nothing else to give by 9pm.

    It does get better, right? Slightly?

  • Domestic Goddess

    Oh, and I’m with Julie. You could have a whole section of the dooce community about the dogs. I’ll be honest, it’s one of my favorite features. But then again, I like dogs more than people.

  • gretchie

    Just today, I was driving home from work contemplating this very issue as regards my little girl – 5 going on 14. Ugh. Mostly, I feel like I’m doing something wrong. Did I get her out of her routine? Is she with the wrong friends? Too many friends? Too few? Does she need more activities to tire her out? Should I pull the Cesar Milan “exercise, discipline, affection” in that order? Can I train a kid like I train a dog? What if I overtire her and turn her into a total whirling dervish? And OH the embarrassment when she misbehaves in public. Once upon a time strangers found her precocious. Now I get uncomfortable stares (not all the time, some still think it’s cute – heh. Lucky me.) The trouble for me is that I wasn’t like her – She’s a spirited child with no sense of shame WHATSOEVER. So, yeah, sometimes I do feel pretty alone in this and oh, if it weren’t for my sister sharing the tales of my beautiful high strung niece, I would have taken this kid to pediatric psychiatrist by now and insisted on shock therapy. Yesterday, I painted her nails and she and I got into a yelling match. I totally get that I set the tone here, kids, but I was mad that she behaves when other people do her nails, but she loses her shit with me. Good LORD! I need to call my mother and apologize for ever being five. And eleven. And, I really need to apologize for eighteen. The last six months of that were totally uncalled for. I was pretty good the rest of it. Hm. Maybe I’m not prize now at 36, either… ;)

  • GringaJessica

    Oh Dooce, you are one hell of a mom. Gigantic props to you for listening to Leta and for keeping your word to her, not matter how much those of us out here in the interwebs may miss those Armstrong eyes.

  • makfan

    May I just say those portraits of Chuck and Coco are beautiful?

  • Frankie

    I think the privacy is a great thing. I really think that will make such a difference to her in the long run, as well as now!

    Also, I have a 9 year old boy and wow DRAMA! I don’t know exactly what you are going through, but I think I feel at least some of your pain!

  • mrswilson

    I’ve found myself doing the same thing. My older daughter is 9 and I write way more about my 3-year-old because she’s not in school and doesn’t have any insecurities yet. (Just many fears. Like today, the bubbles in the sink after she washed her hands after using the bathroom. She was TERRIFIED. And the drive-thru ATM. And rain. And her own shadow. (Seriously.) And, you know, AIR.)

  • ClaireinAustin

    Good for you! And good for Leta for being able to communicate her boundaries! I think that’s really healthy. I am a member of a very active mama listserve and we manage to discuss all kinds of parent related issues often without bringing the kids directly into it, and in a respectful manner. I am sure that you will still write terrific stuff and be your usual funny self and still be able to respect Leta’s privacy. It’s interesting you should write about this topic because I’ve often thought that if I ever met you I’d like to ask you about how you juggle these kinds of issues concerning your kids. Glad you are working it out in a positive way.

  • josaturn

    Hello, I don’t think I’ve ever posted here although I’ve been reading for five years or so. First off, let me say I completely respect your decision regarding Leta. You’ve given me so much comfort over the years! There have been so many times I’ve said, “Listen to this dooce story! Doesn’t it sound like Milla?”

    My oldest daughter, now six, is so much like Leta. Beautiful, very intelligent, smart and witty, and an emotional roller coaster! Just this morning I saw that something of her sisters was touching the side of her booster and I had to quickly move it before she saw. I avoided a breakdown and just the thought of it made my heart beat fast. She can be so big hearted and yet at times so self centered. She has been so reactive from the moment she was born. She had colic, didn’t sleep through the night till she was two, yet knew 150 sign language words by 16 months. My heart hurts every day. She’s the only six year old I know who most days seems like she can’t enjoy herself. I took her to Disney and I’m pretty sure she had about two hours of happiness the entire week. I try so hard to make her happy and always feel I’m failing her. Why isn’t she laid back and enjoying her childhood?

    After the best cowgirl/sleepover birthday party ever she said she hated her life and that I never make her happy. I cried in my room for a half hour. I’m thirty and my six year old’s words effected me that much! I feel like I’m living with a teenager and I’m honestly terrified for her to actually be one.

    I don’t know if this is how you are feeling, but if so I completely feel for you. Some days can be magical because she is so special and amazing and some days can feel intolerable. Friends who see her infrequently are charmed by her and fall easily in love with her wit and beyond her age insightful comments. Friends and family who see her often say, “Milla’s a different breed” or “that’s just Milla!”.

    I feel ya girl. I do.

    Carla

  • Midnight

    My daughter is running from the camera these days too, and I don’t even put her pictures on the internet. Seriously though, my older daughter turns 7 at the end of October and we’ve been going through a tough time too. So if it helps to know you’re not alone, you’re not!

    I think it’s really nice that you ask Leta for permission to talk about her on the website…maybe she’ll realize that you’re showing treating her respectfully and she’ll do the same (oh wait, I could be projecting one of my issues with my kid onto you, sorry).

    Good luck. Hope Marlo’s feeling better soon.

  • Larkspur

    Let Leta take the lead on her privacy issues (as you are doing). As I recall, Anne Lamott had to deal with the same privacy issues with her son Sam. I mean, she wrote a book about every single little event in his gestation and birth, and it was wonderful.

    But as he got older, he started setting limits, and she respected them. Now, when you’re a youngster, especially if you’re still in the single digits, you may not express those limits eloquently. But clearly, Heather, you get what’s happening in terms of Leta vis-à-vis The World, and she outranks us. As much as I’d love whatever information you could provide that might help me understand mother-daughter stuff, since my own history is so tangled up, Leta totally and permanently outranks me.

    Give her and Marlo hugs from me, but oh dear god, do not tell them they’re from me.

  • LesleyG

    I think just as you set an example of how this community can help one another through certain parts of life you’re setting an example here, too. Thank you.

  • Anu

    I don’t have children but understand where Leta is coming from. I miss hearing about her though…can never forget the first time I saw her cute pic in the NY Times and found my way to your blog. Sigh!

  • rekrohn

    You’re a good mom, Heather.

  • samantharyan

    way to work in that verizon mention. ca-ching. My guess is Leta refused to use their phone and got written out of the blog. Way to be L. you hold that iphone tight and be proud.

  • katee bee

    My friend and I have daughters who are two days apart. We have both been complimented on our oblique leadership style – read as “can somehow manipulate these engineers, accounts and trades people into doing the stuff we want them to do”. We just nod sagely and say “21 years of Leo girls – that’ll teach you”.

    The short description of a Leo child is “Would you like to wear your red coat or your blue coat” (Get a coat on, ok)… the child replies “GREEEEEEN COAT”… and the dance of battles is now formalized. The daily and long term strategies of presenting ideas, letting them marinate, nudging them along and then allowing them to be presented back to you as their decision.

    The planned run away to another city – where she didn’t get the bus ticket until her father (the ex) gave permission (that lasted 10 minutes until I phoned to clue him in) and took her homework assignments that she’d asked for – that was a tense period of time.

    But we have survived it.

    My darling is now 21, lives in another city and communicates more now via facebook, texting (sigh – I finally get the T9 thing now), fave five and e-mail. I’ve even had a tour of the apartment by Skype and the glory of a wireless computer.

    We have just survived a week long visit home. She was the one who reminded me that we had to make our appointment with portrait photographer friend. Those pictures do tell a story. And we both have one from the session as our profile shot.

    One day you’ll get a warm glow from the facebook call out of “MY MOTHER ROCKS!!” knowing the all 48000 if her closest friends and your 64 have seen it.

    Your turn will come.

    But I am curious as to what happened with your assistant who has the baby about Bobo’s age? and looking forward to Tyrant’s blog

  • Mindy Lee

    Thank you. Thank you for not being Kathie Lee Gifford and exploiting Leta.

    Leta will thank you for it later.

    Mom of a 12 year old boy who cringes at things I share with his own dad.

  • IfByYes

    Sucks about the chicken pox. It still seems bizarre to me that there’s a vaccine. Remember the good old days, when we were just supposed to lick the spotty neighbour kid’s face?

    I decided to come down with chicken pox without ANY exposure to spotty neighbour kids. I decided that the best time to do that would be the night my mother had been in a car accident. She was released from the hospital with a wrenched back and neck, a lot of pain killers, and a completely totalled car, and I greeted her with “my neck itches”.

    …So all in all, a good day for my mother.

  • marbenais

    As a former six year old girl, I blame all the crazy on being in school with OTHER SIX YEAR OLD GIRLS. Especially when I was reading book after book and they were jumping rope. Eventually it gets better . . . but you’re far and away better than most mothers already, since you 1) recognize 2) care 3) communicate. Breathe!

    Of course Leta’s more powerful than Verizon. Don’t you remember your equation?
    omg = southernStubborn + mormonPioneerStubborn;

  • hudsongrafix

    I, too, have a blog and can no longer write about my oldest son. And yes, I feel censored because he has special needs and there is so much I would like to say. I also got even more censored when he and his friends were old enough to read my blog. I realized that he was old enough to read it, but not old enough to understand my honest thoughts did not mean I loved him less.
    Thinking of starting an anonymous blog!