This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

Four years

Leta has recently stolen three of my delicious lip glosses, the pineapple, lime and mango-flavored ones, and this morning she begged me to let her wear the dress with the pockets so that she could take one to school and keep it with her all day. I think several of her friends are also into lip gloss, and just yesterday when I dropped her off she ran right up to one of Her Kids, as she likes to call them, and they immediately starting applying a stick of lip gloss to one another. Yeah, not so sanitary, I guess, and maybe I could have tackled them both before they shared saliva, but considering the gigantic worms of green snot I’ve seen smeared across the faces of certain kids in her class I’m thinking, shit, she hasn’t contracted The Typhoid yet, you go right ahead and share those germs. If you start sucking on each other’s noses, well then, we’ll have a little talk.

The previous day as we were walking to the car after school she spotted a discarded red Twizzler on the ground in the parking lot and headed straight for it going, OOOH! And I was all, look, I may be Southern, but I am not that Southern, don’t you even think about putting that in your mouth. And she said, why? And I said because that is just gross. And she said, you mean like Daddy’s toots? And I said, exactly!

So we’re in the car this morning, and she’s in the back seat applying half the tube of lime-flavored lip gloss to her face, only occasionally on her lips, and she starts asking about where people live. Where does Grandmommy live? How about Papaw? And after we get through the list of the whole family she asks if I have always lived in Salt Lake City. And it’s just so weird that she can conceptualize enough to even consider that I might have lived elsewhere. It struck me really hard this morning that here I am having a multi-level conversation with my daughter, my very adorable daughter whose cheeks are covered in an inch-thick crust of lime lip gloss.

I remember when I used to wonder what her voice would sound like when she learned how to talk.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been going through collections of old photos from the first years of her life, or perhaps it’s because the anniversary of my stay in a mental hospital is this month, but this morning I felt like I needed to say something to someone out there who may need to hear this right now like I did so badly back then: it gets so much better.

In fact, better is not even a word that can do it justice. There are very simple times that I’m with her, when I’m brushing her hair or watching her read herself a book on her bed, when the feeling that comes over me is not unlike how it was when I was a kid walking through the gates at an amusement park knowing that I was going to have the most awesome, most memorable day. And it’s not the feeling of riding the roller coaster or being allowed to eat an entire bag of cotton candy, it’s the feeling before all that. It’s the excitement, the anticipation, the general sense of being in one of my favorite places.

When Leta was born I thought I would automatically feel this way, and many women do. But I did not. And I did not know if I would ever get here. So many women reached out to me to let me know they had gone through the same crisis and came out the other side, and it was the hope they gave me that pulled me through. If you happen to be in that place right now, I want you to know that it gets so much better. And one day you’re going to be having a complex conversation with that baby who is screaming her head off right now, and you’re going to go, holy shit, I made it. You will make it.

  • Leta is a lucky, lucky girl.

    Also, she seems more than prepped for the tequila and salt right about now.

  • Jen

    Thank You.

  • Heather, thank you. I am not a parent (yet), but your story means so much to me, even so. And I know there will be many, many women who do need just exactly this message, TODAY, who will read this. And it will help a little.

  • Kristin

    Rivers of snot are so much fun. Great post, natch.

  • I’ve missed this Dooce, what with all the fame and the books and the cleaning up dog shit. Thanks for letting it all hang out for those who are hanging on by a thread.

  • Shannon

    Funny you should mention this now. My son is nearly 7 and I just hit this point with him. Curse you for making me cry at work though. 🙂

  • Kristie S

    Heather, once again you have come through for me. I am so glad to know that it gets better. I have a wonderful baby and 2 older wonderful kids but there are days when you would just rather jump off a ledge than listen to the crying screaming or bickering for one more minute. I know it gets better and I am thankful for every minute that I get to enjoy my kids because of the help I have gotten from family friends and some serious medication. You rock girl.

  • So…when are you two gonna have another kid?

  • thanks for this.

  • Amen. Life really does get better. SO much better.

  • This was stunning. And so full of hope for me as I watch my two year-old hurl herself on the floor and have 18 tantrums an hour. It gets better? Really? This is good.
    You’ve come so far.

  • Kristine

    Thanks for your funny and very honest posts. You have been so open with your life that I know you’ve helped some people scoop themselves out of the pit of dispair. I know you’ve helped me put a smile on my face or get a good belly laugh when the times weren’t so great. So for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Leta is so lucky to have such fantastic parents and you are blessed for a beautiful, funny daughter. Can’t wait to see how she is at 16!

  • I just LURV you.

  • Anonymous

    thank you

  • My husband and I have just started trying to get pregnant, and I’m a little scared about how hard it will be getting through the baby stage. I love reading your posts about the process, and I am really looking forward to the stage where you are with Leta right now.

  • Sarah

    You are so right. I felt the same way. My daughter just turned 5 and from what you write, she and Leta are a lot alike – a lot. The moment you realize that your “baby” can conceptualize is incredible. Oh, and the princess thing will start to taper off soon. Unfortunately someone will introduce her to Hannah Montana. Help me.

  • Jodie

    Loving your archive photos of Leta. She was a cute little bunny as a baby and is still a cute little girl. Coco looks like she’s growing up. You’ll need to post a full body photo of her so we can see how big she’s gotten. Do you know that another blogger/writer named her giant puppy Coco? Coco is a Great Pyrennes puppy. Google Suzanne McMinn, she has a blog called Chickens In The Road.

  • Anna

    While I am mostly enjoying the baby days with my son, when it gets tough I look forward to the preschool days. I can’t wait until he starts asking questions. Can’t wait!

  • nina

    Posting a) just to be near the beginning and b) to say “amen, sister”. I was one who did not naturally cotton to motherhood. My little girl is 10 mos younger than Leta. I laugh and cry with you more than I should – because I only have time to look while I’m at work – oops. When I found this site, I couldn’t stop telling people about it. I kept saying – “what she said.” That’s it exactly. And so I will be sending this URL to two dear friends who are in newborn hell to remind them that someday, sooner than they can imagine, they will be talking about lipgloss, or in my own recent case, all the reasons why a real cow cannot come into our house – enumerated of course.

  • i don’t plan on having kids, but this was a wonderful way to make me reconsider that decision!

  • grace

    i can’t say it any other way, but thank you. i am where you were and i hope to someday be where you are. keep leading the way kemo sabe.

  • Anonymous

    MUST you make me cry at work?

  • Single mom in New England

    A W E S O M E P O S T!!!!! Thank you so much for the hope for the future!

  • also…loving the photos of young leta that you have been posting. most babies seem to change so much so quickly, yet you can almost see the little girl in the beautiful baby. sweet. very sweet.

  • Anonymous

    You wrote this for me, as I bounce my crying, 8 week old son in his bouncy chair. There are lots of days when he and I just cry together and I think I am so not cut out for this, even though I’ve wanted it my whole life.

    It’s a lonely place and I appreciate seeing your message. I wish I could also find the archives of your days with Leta when she was a baby. Did you take them down?

    Anyway, thank you.

  • Jessie Riley

    THANK YOU! It is not a NEWBORN screaming at me, but a TWO and A HALF YEAR OLD, and I feel like I might LOOSE MY MIND any moment. THANK YOU for reminding me that it WILL get better.

  • Sarah Lyons

    Congratulations! My kids are 8 & 11 and I’m just now starting to feel human again and actually excited to be a mom.

    Oh, and do yourself a favor and google ‘mucophagy’. It’s my most favorite word (despite being incredibly gross, especially the more sexual versions).

  • Heather

    Thanks for this! I identify with your life so much. My two year old sounds so much like Leta. I was just thinking the other day how much easier things are now than when she was a baby. Glad to hear it gets even better!

  • Brett

    I am 30 and don’t have any kids, but after reading this it makes me think “I want to have that exciting pre-Lagoon visit experience”. Too bad it is one hell of a process to adopt a child when your gay 🙁

  • I’ve had such the same feelings, but wouldn’t have thought to put it into these same words–reading them made me tear up as I recognized myself in what you wrote. I adored my oldest from day one, the kind of adoration you expect as a mother. When she got older, school aged, it was harder, and I felt like such a selfish failure, like I’d changed so much or dropped the ball so much that somehow I’d forgotten how to love her. Now that she’s past 13, we’ve come out the other side, and I am so amazed at how wonderful and three-dimensional and intelligent and enjoyable she’s become all over again. It DOES get so much better–and it keeps on gettin’ better, all the time. Awesome stuff.

  • What a wonderful post. You’re such an elegant writer. Yes, even when you’re writing about your husbands farts.

  • Janet

    Wow, I was just thinking this morning how much fun it’s been since my son turned one…four I can’t even imagine yet but can’t wait!

  • katie

    Wonderful post. I’m sure you just made a ton of women cry and realize, again, that they are not alone.

  • Congratulations to you both! It gets even better from here. Just keep smiling and appreciating all the beauty in that little person you brought into this world.

  • JenHarmon

    It is an overwhelmingly beautiful feeling isn’t it? Leta is a lucky gal to have such a wonderful and loving mom.

    Thank you for reminding me why I love being a mom so much.

  • You’re right, better isn’t a big enough word. I can’t find the word I need to describe what this site has meant to me. You’re better than better, Heather, that’s all I can say. That, and your blog is an incredible inspiration for me.

  • I’m new to your blog. I have a few compliments for you…. 🙂
    1) You are hilarious. Seriously. Freaking. Hilarious.
    2) You made me cry today. Witty and touching.
    3) Lastly, I’m a huge fan….

    Keep it up!! Thanks for your transparency!

  • shelley

    great post

  • denise

    Well-said, Heather. And I’m sure – somewhere out there – that it is definitely helping someone cope today.

  • Jan

    Heather,I couldn’t have said it any better and every word is true.

  • Thanks Heather!

    Four months ago my husband and I brought a sibling group of three into our home that we are adopting. (We also have a 12 yr old “bio” son”.) It’s nice to be reminded that there will always be a tomorrow.

  • Amber

    I’m not married nor do I have children, but I worry everyday about the day I do. I worry that those old depression habits will come back from my youth & my husband will leave. I worry that I’ll suffer PPD & lose my mind – or worse, my child. I may still be a long way off from becoming a wife & mother, but to read your story(I’ve been a long-time reader) & hear you confirm that it does get better makes the anticipation of that time in my life that much sweeter. It makes one believe that she too can one day watch her daughter smear lime lipgloss on her cheeks in the rearview…& smile.
    Thank you, a million times.

  • Judy B

    Thank you for sharing. I don’t have kids yet but the idea has scared me… okay frightened the living daylights out of me. Thank you for always being so candid. I love reading what you have to share.

  • Awesome post! Thanks for sharing.

  • What a beautiful post. That’s it, that’s all. Just beautiful.

  • katliz

    I’ll never get to this blissful realization you speak of, because of my innate fear of that screaming baby, the post-partum depression, the feeling utterly trapped as a mother. I honestly believe that the parents of children who get accidentally left in scalding cars in the summer had feelings like mine at some point, they just ignored them because you’re supposed to have – and want to have – children.

    I read your posts about Leta and get the warm and fuzzies, slip away into a fantasy of motherhood, when, POW!!, there comes that sheer terror again. I’m on the evening news as the monster who left my baby at Target, because a shiny object caught my attention in another isle, just before I decided to ditch shopping and catch up with the ladies at happy hour because we really haven’t seen each other much since I’ve become a moth… DAMN! By the time I remember that I left my child in the housewares department to go drinking, she’s been adopted by a more deserving family in China.

    Thank you so much for your testimony, your empathy, your writing. Living vicariously through your brillant and warm storytelling makes it easier for those of us who wish we wanted to go through with parenting, as well as those who did and are facing its challenges.

  • Winter

    Damb right sister!!

  • Mel

    Thank you, Heather.

    It does get SO much better & easier! I have a 12 year old and a 7 month old to prove it. The 2nd time around has been a much better ride than the first time.

  • THANK YOU! I am so in that place right now and reading posts like this really does help. Just gives that little boost to get you through the next day, or hour, or 5 minutes. My daughter is nine months old now and we’re weaning so I can go on antidepressants and anxiety meds. There are good days and bad days. But the older she’s gotten, the more I’ve realized that I am just NOT an infant person. It sounds like I may be more like you, and as she gets older and can DO more, I’ll feel more comfortable with this complete overhaul of my life and myself. So, anyway, thanks very much.

    By the way, what happens when we’re having a conversation AND she’s screaming? (i.e., 13 or so, I imagine.) 🙂

  • Alli(oop)

    Reading this post gave me chills.

    Congrats!