Eleven years

Today is the eleventh birthday of this website.

Some of you have been reading since the beginning, since I was single and living alone in Los Angeles working as a web designer, back when I thought that children might not ever be a part of my life. Remember when you could drop someone off at the airport and walk them to their gate? Or meet them eagerly as they walked off of the plane? So does my website.

Some of you started reading after I got married, some when I got pregnant for the first time. Some of you found this website after I gave birth to my little frog baby. And then there was the postpartum depression, the hospital, the years of my child teaching me what it means to be human. That child is now old enough to be baptized in the Mormon Church. But even if you’ve only been reading for a month you can probably guess that baptism, particularly into the Mormon Church, is on a list of things she gets to choose to do when she’s old enough to make decisions that big. You know, like skydiving. Or a forehead tattoo. Or, oh God, thinking it’s a good idea to move to Nevada.

From living in my mother’s basement to the first house, the second house, to the current residence. So much change. More change than you’d find in between your couch cushions and in the junk drawer combined. More change than the shape of Joan Rivers’ face.

More than anything else this website has chronicled all that change. The unbridled spirit of 25-year-old Heather Hamilton still powers the heart of 36-year-old Heather Armstrong, but damn am I ever glad to be eleven years older, wiser, and well, different. Yes, different. I feel so much more settled into my skin and confident in the way I move my body through my life. I’ve got way more wrinkles, a ton of gray hair, and it takes a lot longer to recover from a late night out, but who cares about any of that when I now possess an increased ability to identify and shrug off the things that don’t matter.

A lot of that is age, but most of it is the responsibility of having children and supporting two employees. They are why I am so different.

Two kids and four adults now count on these pages to feed them. I won’t lie, that’s a lot of pressure. Sometimes that pressure doesn’t faze me, and then sometimes the stress of it puts me to bed very early without dinner because it’s killed my appetite. But I always come back to one thing, the one fundamental thing that keeps me from walking away: I love doing this.

I love telling stories.

This is the story of how I’ve changed, how I continue to change. Sure, some of you don’t like where I was, or where I am, or where you assume I’ll be a year from now. And that’s fine. But I can promise you this: every word has come from the deepest part of me, and it always will.

I think of you as the group I’d invite over for dinner on a Friday night, and what I write here are the stories I’d tell you when you asked about my week. It’s always been that way. And no matter where you jumped in and started following along, no matter if you left and came back because something made you furious, I’m going to ask you to stay and have another drink. There’s so much more to share with each other.

Thank you for coming over.

  • MsMegan

    Thanks for having us. Congratulations on 11 years.

  • jennb

    Ooh, ooh–I’m bringing the boxed wine. And the funk.
    And maybe an ascot and some platform heels.

    Keep on being strong, girly. We’re here.

  • fizzlesnit

    Cheers to that!

  • jen.yaya

    Your words have helped me explain to my husband what it means to be a southern flavor of nutty… which can be pretty intense at times. And in particular I want to thank you for sharing Chuck with all of us, because the hilariousness of Chuck is what broke the ice in getting my husband to actually listen as I read that first post aloud to him.

    Thank you.

  • Bluestalking

    This is such a sweet post, so drop your defenses sweet. I came on board around the time you got dooced, when it was possible to go back and read all your posts without having to take a week off work to do so. By your bathroom remodel I was hooked, which sounds kind of odd when I think about it. But there you have it. All I can say is thank you.

  • Megan Rene

    I’ve been reading your blog since I was 20 years old dealing with depression & an eating disorder. I am now 26 and completely recovered from the eating problems but still dealing with depression on & off (it’s a lifelong thing). I appreciate so much that you write down all your struggles here, it makes me feel less alone & more understood. You are a wonderful inspiration for those of us who have depression, you tell it how it is, and you don’t apologize for it. I no longer feel ashamed when I am struggling with depression, because I know that it is not my fault & it is totally ok to ask for the help I need. Thank you for everything :)

  • Bluestalking

    P.S.: I miss GEORGE!

  • ladygray

    so glad to be here, to give love and support, laugh, and be a tiny participant in your journey.

    happy 11 years! more happy years to come.

  • cocakolla

    Fab. Happy birthday dooce.com – hope to enjoy visiting you for many years to come.

  • DoubleDs

    Wonderful!

    =)

  • sadiejay1988

    Happy 11th Blog-iversary! I “met” you through Birdie Jaworski’s Avon Blog when Leta was just a baby. I’ve been a follower ever since. You’ve made me laugh, you’ve made me cry. I say “oh, Heather said the funniest thing..” like we’ve had an actual conversation. Which means, I really love your writing. Thank you!

  • Aunt_Lala

    Thank you for having me, Heather. Because of your website, I have made some wonderful friends. My husband and I have been blessed. My life has been changed. And that is because of you. Thank you.

  • proudmary

    well done.

  • kristanhoffman

    <3

    I don't even remember when I first came here, but I do know that I was so entertained I went backward until I got to the very beginning. Then I was disappointed I had to wait several days for new posts, haha.

    I can't write anything in this space more meaningful than what you just wrote up there, but I can say (as so many others have): thank you. Thank you for inviting us in, time and time again. You are an original.

  • Aprilisin

    Happy Blog-versary!

    And don’t mind if I do get that drink now…

  • whurlgurl

    I have enjoyed the last 5 years of reading your site. You are perfect how you were, are, will be!! Rises her Ceasar to many more years to come!! Cheers………..

  • Mugswife

    Congrats on eleven years. I came along after the first baby, but before the second. I love this website, and hearing your truth.

    I read something recently that someone was writing that they cared about you and the separation was such a surprise, they felt betrayed. (as if it was about them). They said to remember that this is all a show for you, an act. This is my response – I took a memoir writing class and the teacher kept saying a couple of things:

    THIS IS WHAT I KNOW NOW. It may not always be that way, but that is what I share now.

    Also, whether you write a blog, or a book about a part of your life, a memoir – that IT IS NEVER THE FULL STORY. IT IS A PART OF A STORY. Even in memoirs (or blogging), you (readers) don’t get all of me or my life (writer) , by no means should it ever be considered a full account.

    Some of the naysayers would be good to remember that.

    Congratulations, Heather. Take Care.

  • SueBHoney

    Congratulations on 11 years! I have been reading your blog since Leta was about 3 years. You have been an inspiration to me! Kind of like Oprah back in the day!

  • mybottlesup

    wow. i can remember the first time i came to this site. scrolling through your archives, i would laugh and cry and then cry until i laughed again. i have admired your voice for a long time and wish you a very happy birthday to this special place. thank you for all that you’ve done.

  • cameron_barrett

    Remember that time you visited Portland (or was it Seattle) and you wrote about the cock-a-doodle-doo fart you overheard in the public restroom? I laughed so hard, I hurt myself. That’s why I keep reading.

  • bambooska

    Congratulations.
    Thank you for having us.

  • valeriegp

    I started reading when Leta was a baby. It feels like so long ago! I rarely comment (I had to get an email reminder for my password!) but I read every day. And I will continue reading, because I am touched by your stories, in good times and in bad. Congratulations on your blogiversary!

  • Tinkquilts

    Since I’ve only been reading for a few years now I guess I’m a newbie. Congrats on 11 years. Can’t imagine the pressure of having that many people depending on me!

  • nicolerenee76

    Congratulations Heather – you have no idea how much you have helped me (and tons of others I’m sure) through some of the most difficult times in my life. I only hope we can all do the same back to you… Sending you bigs hugs and lots of love and margaritas!

  • chaird

    Congratulations on 11 years! Just 7 more to go until you can kick this kid out of your house!

  • susanruffin

    I might as well wade in….I came in with postpartum and would like a double scotch on the rocks but am expecting dinner also – crab legs would be nice…oh no that’s you. Lobster please. Just kidding. Congrats, here’s to 11 more.

  • TxSuzyQ

    I think I stumbled in here about the time Jon was timing your poop contractions after having eaten some strange garlic laiden pizza that was supposed to induce labor. I wasn’t married, nor did I have any kids, heck, we don’t even come close to seeing eye to eye on politics and religion, but the stories and the laughter are what has kept me coming back for more.

    We may not know each other, but after all these years, reading your blog feels very much like checking in with one of my old friends from high school that I never lost touch with. We communicate regularly, get the highlights, mostly without TMI and other times with way TMI! Its just what we do. We share some funny stories and enjoy the comfort we find in each other. I can give you an encouraging word, be your cheerleader, offer an opinion if I want, but most of the time I just listen.

    Its kind of a neat friendship, of sorts.

    Happy Anniversary

  • Amanda Brumfield

    Congrats Sweetie-Pea! I love you mucho!

    *Big Smooch*

  • NoLongerEvil

    Happy Birthday! Looking forward to 11 more.

  • tamevans

    Dearest Heather -
    I “met” you whilst I was smack dab in the middle of the scenic stretch of Hell you are currently going through.
    You WILL make it through this.
    Stay true to You and those girls.
    You have never failed to make my “People whom I would most like to sit near at a dinner party.”
    Congratulations on living a life well.
    x Tami
    (TamiEvans.com)

  • kturney

    Thank you for sharing this journey and reminding all of us people on the “interwebs” that you are a real person, with real triumphs and real problems…and that it is OK.

  • liza393

    I’ve been reading for six years and have never posted. So first of all, congratulations on the anniversary. I started and then kept reading because you have a way of writing about the things I know and the things I have yet to experience with some real honesty and character. The past few weeks have been disappointing for me as a reader . . . I understand that what you’re going through is unimaginably hard, and painful, and at times probably all-consuming. You’ve chosen to share it in a very public, very open forum. I commend you for allowing us to share in that pain and to know we’re not alone in feelings of devastation. But you’ve also chosen to be incredibly ambiguous. And then you wrote this really empowering post to all those detractors, and I was sold again. I thought it was perfectly written and captured that sense of pride all of us have when we decide we’re strong enough to stand up for ourselves for the very first time. But then you asked for readers of Blurbomat to be censored, which for me destroyed all aspects of that honest empowerment. I guess I’m just trying to say that as a 6-year long reader, I feel betrayed. And like in any relationship, I feel like maybe I was wrong to read so much honesty and soul-baring into the last six years.

  • sandi

    Congrats Heather!! I would love to stay for another!

  • koskersidlewild

    beautifully written! Congratulations on your success… there is a huge supportive camp of us who love your stories (and possibly try to glean insight on how to become successful too). Now how ’bout dessert?

  • ajigreer

    Congratulations on 11 years! I just found you this year but I’ll be sticking around as long as you do!

  • Figtron

    Eleven years.

    Eleven years since I became a divorce’. Eleven years since my life turned upside down…since I began to have a clue who I really am. Over a decade in the process of devolving into the woman I am today. So many times I came to Dooce to get some insight, to get some humor, some thing to help me move forward toward feeling viable, worthy, human again.

    Now, I am remarried, ecstatic, I really get it. Thanks for being a significant part of helping me through that transition…thanks for being Heather, and helping us minions to feel a part of something much more special. The Doocebags.

  • AmyLynn

    Congrats! I found your blog a few years ago and have been loving it ever since. You always make me laugh…and sometimes make me cry. You’re in my thoughts as you go through this difficult time. Keep up the good work!

  • kodiaksrevenge

    Been following you for a gnats lifetime…Been a good time.

  • kittykye

    I’ve been reading your blog since just around the time Leta was born. I remember finding you through my sister’s short-lived website. She had you on a list of her favourites. I remember what originally attracted me to your blog was your photographs. I used to get up early on Sunday morning, turn up my favourite jazz album with a cup of coffee, and just go through page after page of pictures of Chuck and sunsets and so on. It was my “feel good” moment of the week.
    I admit there has been times where I have walked away from this blog because it’s made me angry. But more often it has made me laugh and smile… and made me addicted for more (I bought your book when it came out just for that reason).
    It’s weird watching and knowing someone’s life so closely, when you don’t know them in reality whatsoever. You’ve become a celebrity… and it’s weird, considering I’ve seen part of the path that has brought you here.
    I’ve never been a frequent commenter on here, as you have a million billion people who follow you and comment regularly. But I thought this was a good time to say…
    Thanks Heather. Thanks for this blog and all the work you put into it. You’re touching people all over the world with each word you put down in this little area. And I think that’s really amazing.
    Cheers~~

  • specialkrispy

    Thanks for having us. And for being here. I think some of us rely on you, too – not to put food on the table or pay the rent – but to make us feel more human and inspire us.

    (dooce fan since 2005)

  • electricjellybean

    Thank you for your stories, Heather.

  • cateyb

    I’ve been reading since Leta was a baby, but I read the archives, shortly after discovering you, one Sunday afternoon.
    It is a strange thing to owe a complete stranger one’s sanity, but I’m not sure I’d have recognized the symptoms of my own depression if not for reading about yours.
    Thank you for sharing, I owe you many, many drinks!

    Love,

    Catherine xx

  • suebob

    It has been my pleasure to read you all these years.

    I think the first post I read was the one where you were putting cabbage leaves in your bra. Or not. I sent it to my sister, who was quadraplegic by that time, so she wrote in a very concise manner. She said “This is GOOD.”

  • LisaAR

    I remember I started reading you after Leta was born…and the first post I read was about…poop. I thought to myself, now this is someone I can connect with! I’ve always enjoyed your stories, and I am grateful for your honesty and how you deal with depression. In the years that you’ve been writing, just think of how much that subject has evolved in our world…and it’s people like you who have helped get us there. Thank you for that. And thank you for the many laughs and sometimes tears you’ve brought me.

    Congratulations on 11 years. I wish you all the very best in your life’s journey.

  • lkb827

    Congratulations on 11 years! So love your humor and sarcasm in your writing and beautiful photography (yes, you too Chuck!) I am on the internet way too much and I can say with all honesty that this is the one blog that I run to everyday to get my Heather fix. Thanks for sharing your lives with us. Blessings to you and your family.

  • sueluvsblue

    Heather – I started logging in a few years ago to see Chuck and his antics, and have come to appreciate your openness and honesty about life in general. It ain’t all roses and unicorns. You make a more of a difference than you know through your blogging – like our sister from another mister.

    Long live Chuck and Coco…!

    Susan

  • Starshine

    Congratulations, Heather, on 11 years! I’ve been reading for the past 6, and it’s been a joy to follow your story. I truly care for you, and I’m hoping that great things come in the future. I’ll be here reading for the next 11 years, God wiling!

  • litmiss

    Thanks for telling us your stories. You can’t overestimate the impact they’ve had on me. I read about the lover that became a life suck, and the fast-trickling faith, and the army crawls, and all the ensuing lasting shackles, and gasped, “Oh my God, oh my God, me too, me too, me too” every time. Then I knew I could crack or not crack, love or not love, and make it out alive at least. I knew I wasn’t stupid for feeling the way I did or helping things to turn out the way they did. I knew I was – in any state I had existed or would exist – an intact and deserving person, because someone else had been too. I’m raising my bourbon and lime to you. Happy eleven!

  • karzel

    Thank you for sharing with us, thank you for spilling my coffee over my computer way too many times, thank you for the tears and for inviting us into your home.
    Here’s to many many many more years of dooce.com
    (been reading for about 4 years now, from the other side of the planet, Lebanon, Middle East)

  • Heatherface

    I’m not sure how long I’ve been reading, a couple years I think. I found this blog by Googling my first name just to see what popped up. I don’t really read parent blogs, so I hadn’t heard of this site yet. Now of course I’m always seeing links to it. Funny how that happens.

    http://www.justsomebroad.com