• dykewife

    respecting leta’s wishes goes a long way to teaching her that she’s a valued member of your family, not just a character to be used as you need. it teaches her that you value her opinion and respect her choices. that will teach her to value herself. until boy turned 16 or so i didn’t write much about him. that was to allow him the choice of what the world saw. if he said that i couldn’t write about something (like you i asked first) i wouldn’t. of course, now that he’s 18 i don’t ask him. then again, he doesn’t do those funny kid things anymore either. darn kid. went and grew up.

  • dykewife

    respecting leta’s wishes goes a long way to teaching her that she’s a valued member of your family, not just a character to be used as you need. it teaches her that you value her opinion and respect her choices. that will teach her to value herself. until boy turned 16 or so i didn’t write much about him. that was to allow him the choice of what the world saw. if he said that i couldn’t write about something (like you i asked first) i wouldn’t. of course, now that he’s 18 i don’t ask him. then again, he doesn’t do those funny kid things anymore either. darn kid. went and grew up.

  • chasethefirefly

    You’re definitely not alone. My oldest daughter and I have had a difficult relationship that seems to have started from the day she was born. Whenever I wish the situation between us was easier, I remind myself that our struggle is a great reminder of how much she means to me. I wouldn’t fight the everyday for just anyone.

    Just when we were heading into the really tough period of 4 years of age, I had my now 4 year old. And this baby was the most easy going child around. I sometimes felt guilt for focusing on these easy attributes of my second child. It was just so much safer to keep it vanilla. I’m glad I went that way.

    As time passes things get better. As my oldest ages, I want to be on her side more than ever, to be her champion. Mostly, because I think a lot of her angst comes from a place of fear and she would do anything to function without it.

  • sybann

    Heather,

    You’re a GOOD Mom! She’ll appreciate you even more for it. It’ll just take a few – decades.

    Hang in.

  • Glasseystare

    Keep respecting yourself enough to trust your instincts.

    The bumps are much more entertaining in retrospect. They make for good stories later. Much, much later.

  • VeniVidiBlogi

    My eldest got Chicken Pox from the vaccine too! I’m worried about my youngest getting it too…I’m sure it will be FUN TIMES at our house when that happens.

    As for Leta, I think it’s totally totally normal. Even though it’s so infuriatingly frustrating to me at times, I like to think that I get so upset about things because I care. Or maybe because I need more medication? I hope it does pass, and that I can eventually look back on this time and say that it forced us to really talk and open up about our feelings. Or maybe I’ll be in a mental institution and be a blathering idiot and nobody will give two poops about how my four year-old drove me to insanity.

    I recently did

    Um.. I think everyone else has said words to this effect already, but here goes anyway.

    My mother and I have always enjoyed a sticky, tumultuous relationship full of mistakes, yelling, crying, emotional blackmail, unrealistic expectations of each other, and an ever changing playing field.

    She is my best friend, and I am hers. Because she has seen all my ugly, and I have seen all hers too.

    She will come back to you. She is you.

  • lovems

    Heather, YAY for you for protecting Leta’s privacy! People often ask me why I don’t blog and honestly it’s because my three daughters are grown and have lives of their own and I am deeply involved with them, and I know they would not want me blogging all about their lives.

  • katstermonster

    As a Leta who has reached the other side of this: you’re doing the right thing. It’s not going to get easier any time soon, but when it does, it will all be worth it. I was an unholy terror to my mother from the ages of 3 to 13, but now I’m 23 and I can truly say she is my best friend. We rarely fought throughout my teen years, and our relationship is the strongest of any mother-daughter pair I know. Seriously.

    I can’t offer any words of wisdom on how to make her happy in the short-term, though. I still don’t know why I was such a crazy ball of angst for all those years, but it will get easier, I swear. Love her and hug her and breathe deeply and remember: this, too, shall pass.

  • Sister Slick

    Heather, I feel for you. I have a wonderful, smart, funny, silly, charming 6 year old boy and he tends to be a little “complicated”. It’s been a rough few years but I’m sure we’ll laugh about this together some day. He just “vibrates” at a higher frequency than most kids. Everything seems like a battle (which I feel ultimately like the loser of).

    I’ll bet that our kids turn out to be some of the most intelligent, articulate, sensitive adults that we have ever met. Or astrophysicists! :)

  • lisaann

    Well, as long as Leta isn’t mad at the Internet….

    Heather, as an older mom on her 3rd time around, I can say this too will pass. It will be the stuff of funny stories she tells her kids while you look on in wonder. Promise.

    (One of the blessings of getting older is that 20/20 hindsight thing!)

  • TexasKatie

    Thank you so much for writing this, Heather. I know I am one of the “WHERE DID LETA GO?” commenters. I definitely miss her, because I think we all sort of have this sense of knowing you guys. Like we have seen Leta grow up – so not seeing her sort of makes us a little sad. But I completely understand now why you haven’t been talking about her as much or putting photographs up here. If that is something that she is uncomfortable with right now, then you are doing the absolute right thing. I do agree that it is probably a bit less invasive to blog about a baby than a first grader, so point taken.

    My sister has an almost 6 year old girl, and I can honestly relate to what you are going through. Evelyn is already like a 14 year old teenager with how she interacts with my sister – I swear these little girls just get more and more mature at a younger age!

    In the end, though, I know Leta loves you to pieces and will one day probably decide it is a-okay to be on Mom’s blog once in a while. And I cannot wait to see her again!

    Thanks, Heather!

  • The Dalai Mama

    My daughter is only 2 1/2 and I can already see that our relationship will be rocky. She’s amazing, smart and willful already. We bump head now and again already. I know it will only get worse and then better and then worse. I have a complicated relationship with my mom and I think that might color my perceptions of what a mother daughter relationship can be. I rebelled again my mom and what she wanted me to do and I see my daughter gravitating towards all the girlie stuff and I panic about it.

    Again, I am happy to know I am not the only one who has or will have an at times difficult relationship with my daughter. I also applaud your giving privacy to her. My son is only 4 but I find myself writing less and less about him because he is getting older. He doesn’t really know that I blog–as I don’t as much as I use to–damn PhD program. But someday, I am hoping he will appreciate what I have preserved of our life in words.

    Kudos to you.

  • nina-dsd

    Heather, you and the other folks are scaring me. Actually, I’ve been a little scared already – given some the my dear daughter’s recent moods- envisioning the teen years, but I didn’t think they could be around the corner. I have a little girl – 10 months younger than Leta. The stubbornness, the negotiating, the drama. Why? Why? At 6? really? It’s 10 am here and I think I may need a little extra something in my coffee this morning just contemplating it. Hang in there – it seems like you are on the right track.

  • WhitneyT

    Oh boy, now I know what I’m in for with my 9 month old! Seriously though, you might want to read “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine. Really interesting stuff; she talks a lot about various stages of development, the effect of hormones on the female brain, etc. Very scientific approach, but an entertaining and enlightening read as well. Good luck! I’m following your footsteps in a few months/years….

  • pattyhans

    When my older daughter was about 9 I remember dreaming that I stabbed her to death – which ought to give you some clue about how stressful the years between 5 and, oh, 23, were! She’s 28 now and we have a great relationship, but those years were not pretty. (And I’m raising her 7 year old daughter now, who is a frickin’ carbon copy of her mother, so, yay – I get to do it ALL OVER AGAIN.) My younger daughter, on the other hand, took one look at what her sister would do and figured the exact opposite was probably the best way to go, so she was always easy!

  • lori.ann.mcvay

    “She’s got the Daisy in her.” I laughed SO LOUD.

  • PrettyGirlMyers

    My daughter is 12, and for the last several years our relationship has been challenging (to put it politely!). I thought I would have my sweet girl until she was at least thirteen, but nope, one day when she was around eight she woke up and was a different person. So I’m riding the wave and hoping that eventually (read:before she leaves for college) things will settle down. On the plus side, it’s like living with several different people because I never know who she’ll be when she wakes up in the morning!

    Hang in there, I so know how you’re feeling!

  • Amy J.

    Had to respond to Katbee:

    I smiled at this and then got a big ole lump in my throat…

    “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.”

    So true how young women have like 4,000 FB friends! I don’t think I’ve ever even known 4,000 in my entire life, lol.

    Heather…just grab ahold of the little moments with Leta. My youngest told me yesterday, hugging my neck, “I never want you to die.”

    Um, thanks sweetie…me neither. : )

  • kathy100000

    I don’t want to be seen as a hater, because I am not. This is my first post after reading for about 2 years and I am posting because I feel strongly enough about this to risk the sh*t storm that may come as a result. So far, most of the comments have been “hang on, lots of parents have difficult relationships with the oldest, etc.” This is all true. But I want to encourage Dooce to consider that Leta has an anxiety disorder. There have been many times over the years when I have read something that she has said about Leta’s behavior and I went “yup.” Our 12 year old struggles with anxiety and a little bit of OCD and Leta sounds just like her – oldest, a girl, really smart, hyper literate, thinks out every possible permutation of an issue, worries about everything, isn’t great at transitions, has some pretty volatile and unpredictable reactions sometimes. Our daughter started really acting out at 6 and then next couple of years were complete hell. It took a while to connect with the right therapist and get a diagnosis and start working on cognitive behavioral therapies. She is worlds better now, but still is a challenging child with a fairly difficult personality sometimes.

    Please understand that I am not saying that every bright, strong-willed, somewhat difficult child has anxiety. They don’t. But some do and it is only made more difficult if you don’t consider that your child has something more than “normal” behavior going on. My heart broke when I read Carla’s post. Her daughter sounds just like our’s and I hate to see parents and kids suffering along, just waiting for it to “get better.” If there is something more going on, it is not going to get better on its own.

    I too will miss hearing about Leta. But I hope Dooce and Jon are open to thinking about whether there is something more going on here. From the way she wrote the post, I suspect they are on top of it. But, for others reading, there is a difference between normal acting out and an underlying disorder.

  • GhettoMommy

    A chicken pox vaccine and some valium sounds like my idea of a good time. Hope Bobo is feeling better soon.

  • Purple Tree

    First, you’re proving my husband right (shame). He always says, “mothers and daughters” while shaking his head in reference to me and my mother and his mom and sister.

    Second, you’re making me happy I have a boy! ha!

  • LaurieML

    Periodically, I used to refer to myself as the good child in my family. My younger sister’s teenage angst started at age 4 and stopped at oh, 17?(She’s 18 now). But she and my mom are now closer and enjoy each other’s company a lot more, I think you just have to hang in there. My own relationship with my mom has had more ups than downs, and the downs happen because as I think someone mentioned before–no one knows how to push each other’s buttons better than a mother and daughter. It is such a tricky relationship, but at the end of the day it’s really special.

  • micjer65

    Isn’t it fun to see them form their own moral code and boundaries!? It is scary sometimes, but I find myself every day (my son and Leta are not far off in age) seeing it as an opportunity to challenge myself, which is why I guess we parents gush about how our children make us infinitely better people. Wow, I must be pms-ing…I just made myself mist up. That after crying at the back-to-school Office Max commercial…not good. Wait ’til you get to peri-menopause. lolol — then cry.

  • Square Peaches

    I too can relate to what you are going through. Starting at the age of 4, my oldest (who is now on the verge of 13), went through a stage that can only be described Pure Hell. I even spoke to her doctor about it. Know what she told me? That 4 year-olds are like teenagers without hormones. But you know what else? It got better. Once she got into first grade, things calmed down. And while we have the hormone factor now, it’s still not as bad as it was. The key for me has been to realize that, like it or not, she has my personality (strong willed, a very definite sense of right and wrong, a lack of filter between her brain and her mouth) and I need to remember that and respond accordingly. Not always easy, but the best thing I can do as her mother is to remember what it was like to be her age, to realize that she is trying to become her own person, and be respectful of her boundries. All while trying to instill discipline and teach consequences. It’s a balancing act for sure.

    And through all of the ups and downs, I just keep telling myself: if she doesn’t hate my guts when she becomes an adult, I did okay!

  • dianaparkhouse

    Maybe you can tell Leta that the Internet misses her? It might not make things better, but it might make her feel special for a little bit. Even if she doesn’t say so out loud.

  • Jenn Zynischer

    Thank you for this post, Heather.

    Say Hi! to Leta and tell her it’s okay to be a private person.

    I’ve just been worried that the baby’s been getting all the attention, and Leta might feel bad about not being the center of things anymore.

    Well, nevermind, there’s always been Chuck to contend with, hasn’t there?

    Be well, all!

  • erinh

    Heather – as the mother of a 5 year old girl, I think I know *exactly* what you mean by a complex relationship, and issues you didn’t think would happen for another 10 years. Glad to know *I* am not alone!

  • shaunnam

    Your love for Leta comes through so clearly! I applaud your decision to respect her wishes. It will surely have a positive impact on her as well your relationship in the long term. Although I would love to hear the stories as I’m sure mine will be quite a handful as well when she reaches that age!

  • innapar

    So thankful for your blog! It helped me so much through the dark times when my son was an infant and his inability to sleep for longer that 20 min at a time made me bonkers. I really thought I was alone in this, as nobody, and i mean nobody whom I knew experienced anything like that. Your story allowed me to exhale and relax. Thank you! Now he is four, the most wonderful, kind and smart boy…however everyday we battle. The intensity of emotions they experience is just staggering. And I can’t help but get involved in elaborate arguments with him, that bring us both to tears. Again, i think I am not alone. I wish you strength and patience to get through it, God knows, we all need it.

  • kaethend

    I thought I left a comment. But it looks like it didn’t take. Or got eaten. oh well

    The gist of it was: Please tell Leta thank you for sharing thus far. She cannot yet fathom what your (the plural YOUR that English lacks, but other languages have) stories have done for me (and others, I’m sure). It is a gift.

  • Robyn L

    My 17 year old daughter has been a handful since day one. I have learned SO MUCH from her, and wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.

    I’m so pleased you respect Leta’s privacy. :)

  • melnyc

    I also applaud your decision of granting Leta her privacy, and wish you good luck with whatever you are facing. FYI, my 4-year-old has informed me that she would like to move in with her grandparents. Then demanded I drive her to their house with her belongings that. very. moment. Her younger sibling, close in age to Marlo, seems to be more laid back, but we’ll see.

  • brandychome

    More of the same but …

    Only to make you feel better my oldest child, a girl of the ripe old age of 9 bit every child in our playgroup as a toddler. The first kid she bit was on the face, right on the cheek, left top & bottom tooth marks, broke the skin. There were days I considered muzzling her.

    “We” were doing just fine and then I had the BALLS to have another child, a sweet little blue eyed boy who oozes happy to this day at nearly age 5. I am told each and every day without fail that I ruined her life by bringing this thing called a brother home.

    This mom stuff sucks most of the time but I’ve heard its all worth it in the end. This is YOUR story to tell as a mom too. Leta certainly has some rights in this but don’t ignore that raising her is a very important part of you, your life and your story. She can tell you to suck it later, I’m sure she will anyway. Save for therapy not college or a wedding.

  • Jan

    Brava, Heather for that decision. This is your life, not journalism, and I wonder if you would also consider removing earlier posts about and photos of Leta. Thanks to Kathy100000 for her caveat about anxiety disorder. It may not be the case for Leta, but certainly was for me at that age (and afterwards, because my parents didn’t get help for me even though the doctor suggested it). Finally, the portrait of Coco *LOOKS JUST LIKE JON!* Especially the eyes!

  • Jayceekay

    Of course we understand about Leta, Heather. Good luck with that (Remember…this too shall pass!)

    Please tell her that we, the internet, love her and miss her though okay?

    Always knew the day had to come but…
    It’s ridiculous considering I don’t realllllly know her LOL. But it’s hard to watch a baby grow up…worry about her, laugh with her, cry with her… into a lovely young girl and then…’poof’…no more news or pictures.
    Oh well…Maybe little Marlo will be a blog ham and always want you to write about her!

  • Poppstarr

    Heather, I have a 6 yr old boy who is starting first grade this year. Boy, oh boy (excuse the pun, I think) I did not realize I’d be dealing with teenage-esque problems now! If it helps at all, you are not alone. Now I do not know what you are going through, but I can only imagine. We sure get into it almost on a daily basis. He is testing everything, back-talking, lying (to my face), saying bad words (damn after school programs!), asking about life experiences and, AND, he wants a cell phone. He’s 6! Someone needs to write a book “What to Expect When Expecting, the 6th year, 7th year, pre-teen years, etc.”

    Remembering I am not alone is the only way I am dealing and getting through this adventure.

  • flavia

    didn’t kathie lee predict this?
    send her a bottle of wine, heather.
    hang in there.

  • Little Nikolette

    I have a feeling I know a little bit about what you are going through with Leta. My older child who turned 8 in June has been showing strong adolescent symptoms as far as attitude etc. Whoa! It’s been better lately because of the Nintendo DS she got for her birthday – a highly effective disciplinary tool! But who knows how this is going to all come out down the line… I always tell my friends I’m really dreading when she is a teenager in actual years; i.e., how much worse will it get?

    Hang in there, you’re DEFINITELY not alone.

  • writtendad

    First, let me preface by saying I both respect and admire your desire to censor and I, the father of one son, cannot in any way imagine or relate to what you may be going through. That said, I have to ask, and maybe I missed it in the chain of comments, what does the future hold when Marlo turns 5 or 6 or 7? What direction will dooce.com take? It may be too far in advance to tell, and maybe Leta will even be a contributing author by that time, but I couldn’t help but ask.

    Regardless, I will read on and enjoy and I wish the best to all of you (especially you and Leta) through the challenge that you are facing.

  • Brea

    Although I hadn’t noticed you writing less about Leta (which I thought was a result of plenty of other stuff you could write about – based on the wild ride life seems to be throwing you and Jon), I had noticed the lack of photographs of her.

    If my blog was my livelyhood, then I would have come to the same conclusion that you have: family that doesn’t want to be blogged about is off limits.

    When your nickname becomes a verb for losing one’s job from blogging about work (as in: being ‘dooced’), it is a timely lesson about being careful what one writes about. It’s a lesson in privacy and off-limit content that you’ve worked hard at maintaining, which has not been lost on me.

    You have a voice and an influence – and to see you maintaining healthy boundaries for your daughter and your family is AWESOME.

  • julieisthebest

    My mother and I had a difficult relationship for a number of years. She struggled with undiagnosed depression and anxiety and would randomly go off the rails over nothing (she once kicked a hole in my wall because – actually I’m still not clear on why but I know it had something to do with toothpaste). It didn’t make me love her any less but it was still hard. This probably started when I was a couple of years older than Leta but our dispositions were similar (based on what I know about Leta from you).

    Things did not get better for us until we went into therapy together when I was about 11 or 12. We only went to a few sessions but it enabled healthier communication than we had previously been experiencing.

  • Noelle

    Oh – yea! Thanks for sharing this. I have been wondering for several months if this was the case. Thanks for confirming!

  • Larkspur

    You know, Heather, maybe in a while (weeks, months, whenever), you could approach Leta and ask her for an interview. She could accept or reject the questions, and would have the final decision on which copy and photos end up in the post. Or if she thinks the entire episode sucks, she can watch you delete it, and remind you of your pinky-swear promise not to write about what doesn’t get written about. Like, what happens in LetaWorld stays in LetaWorld, unless she says, okay: Unstop the presses!

  • Daily Cup of Jo

    Yeah, parenting is complicated and each of us does what each of us has to do for each child. So much of it is general, all babies act the same way, etc. but as they get older, even if it’s still universal, much of it is personal and between you and your child. There may be a million mothers and daughters going through what you and Leta are going through, but they’re not you and Leta. Good for you for respecting her privacy and knowing how important it is to treat your relationship as the unique one that it is.

  • KristyLove

    I’m assuming you are referring to the mouthy, angstiness associated with teen girls. I’m in a similar situation. My oldest is 7 and a half. Some days, though I love her to death, I really don’t like her, you know what I mean? She fights about everything, I never do anything right, I don’t love her enough, I’m boring, etc, etc, etc. I also have my second daughter who just turned one on Friday. Most of my pictures involve her anymore. First, my oldest isn’t around as much. She wants to be with her friends and outside and away from me. The baby doesn’t have a choice. She’s with me all the time and changing so much and I want to document it the way I did with her older sister. I am totally with you. And thank you for this brief snippet about Leta. I feel less alone. I try so hard to show my oldest love and pay attention to her, it is just not enough anymore. I knew this stage would come along, but not yet. I miss my little girl. Again, thank you. Good luck. Good job. And good luck times 2. I know you need it!!

  • Lori M

    I totally agree with your stance on Leta’s privacy. I believe our children’s stories are theirs to tell. Good for you… good mom.

  • slynns

    My six-year-old son has been seeing a psychiatrist for the past 13 months because he was expressing some really scary teenage-like angst. There are those moments I feel like a failure as a mother but remind myself he’s been his own person since he tried to make an early appearance at 29 weeks. All we can do as parents is take a deep breath, love them and respect them as individuals. Again, thank you for letting us be part of the village!

  • Honey

    Heather and Jon, Thank your oldest daughter eternally for catapulting your blog to exponential heights. Don’t apologize to her, just thank her, always. Your loyal readers have loved her via your anecdotes and photography all the while. We always shall.
    Verizon, Where’s Leta’s smartphone? Let’s see HER flickr stream!! Oh yeahh..

  • gail37

    I read a blog by Minnesota Matron http://www.minnesotamatron.blogspot.com/

    She has a 14 yr old son referred to as He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN). He does not want to be mentioned in her blog, hence the appellation. So Leta is not alone, and you wisely defer to her wishes.