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.

  • buttercupyaya

    thank you, really.
    thank you.

  • I was parented by someone whom I believe never fully understood that she was experiencing postpartum depression or that she would forever. On rare ocassions she made this love and amazement known to me, and when she did, it was a part of one end of the manic spectrum which quickly made itself known as the other end. Not to be a bummer, but there’s a point:

    Leta is so lucky that her mother CHOSE to be better for her. That she has a father whose patience and unconditional love helped to heal and support that choice. And that now, she is the child of a wonderful woman whose choice will empower and change the otherwise dire paths of others.

    These writings lift my outlook on parenting and the kind of parent I could be, even if I follow in my mother’s footsteps chemically.

    Thank you.

  • This post is exactly why moms should blog. I’m not a mother yet, though I’m feeling the ache of wanting a baby every single day. I’m scared of the realities of child-rearing, terrified that my future child’s screams will make me want to go stick my head in a wood chipper. But this post, after reading all you’ve dealt with, gives me the brightest hope that it’s going to be worth it after all.

    Thank you Heather, posts like these are why I believe in the Internet.

  • And it does. It gets so much better each day.

    Lovely post.

    Thank you.

  • That was a lovely post. You know, other than the snot. You continue to amaze me daily with your strength and determination. Thank you.

  • “If you’re going through hell, keep going”…. Winston Churchill. Though not warm and fuzzy I think he said it very well. Lester.

  • Thank you. It was really good to hear this today.
    Sometimes it just doesn’t occur, in the midst of it, that it does get better.
    But when it does, the better is so much better as to make the bad seem almost worth it.
    Thank you again.

  • Thank you and well said Heather!

    I was the same way. Very depressed after I had my son and didn’t think I would ever feel that Mother Bear Love people talk about. But I did and I do. Not to mention, no one can make me laugh like my kid. Who is now 8. It really keeps getting better too.

    From,
    someone who is also On The Other Side.

  • Amy

    I also have a 4 year old and I’m shocked at the conversations I have with her. My daughter is all about finding the loophole in the rules. For example…she knows she’s not suppose to say “shit”, so she’ll come up to me and say “mommy, we don’t say shit do we” or “mommy, shit is a bad word isn’t it”.

    I didn’t experience postpartum depression, but I’m a single mom and I’ve had my share of bad days. But then my little one comes up and says “mommy ship…shit…ship…shit…same!” and it’s hard not to smile and realize all will be okay!

    Thanks for the post Heather.

  • thank you.

  • Sarah

    Wow Heather,
    That actually gave me goose bumps and brought tears to my eyes. I am really jealous of your friends and family, I hope they all know how lucky they are to have you. You put things into such a wonderful perspective and I look forward to reading your posts each and every day. I love children and hope to have a few in the next few years. I have battled depression and wonder how I will ever be able to bring a child into this world. You have just given me the hope that it really will be okay and I will be able to do it.

    Thank you.

  • Wonderful post that will reach a lot of people.

  • Anonymous

    4???????

    Puh-lease. It gets SO much better than 4. wait til 6! 7! 10!

    But 11 is tough.

  • Heather:

    You are such a good real life champion of moms and children. Thanks for throwing out a tangible line to some people I am sure need it about now.

    I have been reading your blog for 3+ years now. My son is 8 and so many times I have thought while reading what you write just wait, it keeps getting better. When I still occasionally struggle I remember that and tell myself just wait, it will keep getting even better, and it does. Helping human beings grow up is a great gift.

    Thanks for all your softness – and your smartassness. I enjoy them both!

  • What a wonderful post, the words a glimmer. I second every single thing you said, right down to the mental hospital. Thanks again for being so honest.

    Oh. And my daughter is only 2 and already she insists on sleeping with her Princess Lip Balm. I’m afraid I’m raising a contestant on Flavor of Love: Season 17.

  • I think I might be related to Leta because I, too, have trouble hitting *just* my lips with the lip gloss.

  • Jorjabelle

    Great post. I was never able to have children, however, I met an awesome man who was raising two sons on his own and we happened to fall in love.

    Much to the disappointment of my parents, we married and I raised these two young boys. They’re now in their mid-20’s and I have a 5 y.o. granddaughter who is amazing.

    We were very lucky to have her for ten whole days at Christmas (she lives in St. Paul, “2 plane rides away”). My parents came through and this child had a Christmas that was totally out of control. On a pre-Santa visit to my folks, she comes running into the kitchen with a package that says her name from Santa. So now it’s my fault because I didn’t tell my mom she could read. In my defense, I told Mom to put the packages away so she wouldn’t be confused.

    I taught her air guitar, let her wear her favorite outfit for three straight days cause Nannies can do that (Ugg boots, black tights, and black “skinny” shirt). My son said she looked like a street walker. So then I took her upstairs, spiked her hair, taught her some more awesome air guitar moves, just cause I could.

    And she was writing!! In her purple notebook with pink notebook paper, she asked me what I wanted her to write. I said how about the alphabet? She replied, “Upper case or lower case?” Blew my ass away. Then she sorta’ got hung up around the “y” so I suggested singing the song. She asked what song? So, very off-key, I started singing the abc song. She informed me that was NOT a song and finished writing her letters, both uppercase and lowercase. She put me right in my place.

    Long comment, but watching children at this age begin to process is amazing and scary. You and Jon are so very fortunate. And I do consider these young men I raised my sons and their biological mom and I have a very good relationship and have from day one. Though I don’t understand why she didn’t want to raise these two very handsome young men, I am so blessed to have met their dad and been accepted unconditionally by them.

    Your post is my daily crack fix since I can’t have coffee anymore. Even though I’m older, I relate for some reason, on so many levels.

    And, for some reason, I’m starting to feel all liberal ….

  • Lovebuzz38

    Great post! And I agree… Its totally worth it!

  • Anonymous

    God, I hate to burst your bubble. But just as you are chugging along, it’s getting better, it’s getting better just like the little engine that could. BAM ! Your kid turns 16- wants a license and talks about going to college. My son will be a senior this year and his cousin just left for college. As I think about these things the bile begins to rise in the back of my throat and I feel sick!!! You don’t realize that when you have little ones and you think “oh that was the first time we did this together” That there will also be a LAST time you do that together.. Before you know it your baby is all grown up. Enjoy every minute !!

    Sorry but I had to get that off my chest. I think you website is great. LOVE the pics, I look for them everyday !!!

  • Jessie

    This coupled with yesterday’s article have me bawling. I work with kids who have been abused, and seeing how awful people can be to such innocent little things has made me unsure if I will ever have my own. But reading today’s post made me think – no one does a perfect parenting job, and it is SO inspiring to hear the reality of it all.

    So maybe, just maybe, I’ll reconsider.

    Thank you so much for this powerful peek into your life.

  • Thank you. You may have been writing for me. My surprise pregnancy left me zombie depressed for the first few months, then in a tremendous state of denial, and now {11 days from delivery} inching back towards zombie land. I am counting on the idea that parenthood will be rewarding even if I never intended or wanted to experience it.

    I am going to meet a little guy who gets to experience this amazing ride through life, first through me, then next to me, and finally in a Sunday phone call that I initiate while he is out there zooming through it on his own.

    In the neutral moments {I have had litterally less than a minute of “excited”} I think it will all work out ok. In the zombie moments all I can do is apologize that I’m not interested/excited/happy.

    Thank you for writing today, I needed to read what you had to say.

  • Anonymous

    This made me cry. Thank you for reminding me that it gets better.

    I really, really needed to hear that today.

  • Thank you. That helps. My son is almost two. I had postpartum depression, but thanks to medication I am much better now, although sometimes with all the WHINING and the SCREAMING I feel like I want to jab my eardrums out with a pair of scissors. At times I get small glimpses into how great things can be in the future, but these times are usually punctuated with a lot of SCREAMING. It helps to read about what I have to look forward to.

  • This post allowed me to stop thinking about my fiance’s idiot friend for a few blissful moments. Thank you!

  • Amy

    Thanks – I really needed that.

  • In 1st grade, a friend and I were applying lip-gloss to one another while we road home on the bus, but the bus driver yelled at us to cut it out. Later that evening, our parents got a call from him. He warned them that we were going to turn out to be lesbians. Were we making kissy faces, too? Did we actually smooch one another? I sure don’t remember, but, as six year old girls, anything is possible. And, regardless of if we did, did I mention that we were six? In any case, I still think that is the strangest case of over-reaction I’ve ever been a part of.

  • Anonymous

    Like so many others said, thanks for the reminders. I know that I love my 4-week-old, but I did not know how hard and complicated and not perfect motherhood would be.

  • Anna

    Oh thank you. I’m three months pregnant and this is one of my biggest fears.

  • I know exactly what you mean, it does get better. Throughout all of the 6 years I have been a mother, there were times when I would say it has to get better than this. The crying, tantrums, teething and no sleeping days bring you to tears at times, but yes, it does get better. My daughter will be 4 next month and our conversations are better than I have with most adults I encounter. As a matter of fact, all three of my kids carry great conversation skills.
    I briefly went through post-partum depression after all of their births and let me tell you, you really question your abilities to be in charge of anyone, nonetheless a dependent baby. Also, for me, the ages of 3-4 with my children was so much worse than the “terrible 2’s”.

    However, almost magically,there is one day that comes along where you look at your child or children and go, “Oh Shit, that’s what it’s all about!”

  • After over five years of infertility, I finally have a three month old son. There are some days that are so hard… with the non-stop screaming thanks to colic that I think – I can’t do this. I wasn’t cut out for this.

    Thank you for the reminder that the wait was worth it. I’m going to cuddle him now.

  • Amy

    Thank you. Reminders like this are so important… One of mine is a beautiful picture of my 2 year old that I keep on my phone. He looks simply content and sweet and loved. I take it out and have a look when he’s acting like the 2-Year-Old-Terror most parents have experienced. It’s like counting to 10, but just replacing the numbers with his big, round eyes.

    Remember, the journey is the reward.

  • way to go. she’s just as lucky as you… as for that lime lip gloss, um, well, it may not survive. sorry.

  • Beautiful.

  • m

    It gets better..

    Your words have helped me hang on today.

    I’m a 21 year old single mom with a 4 month old daughter.

    Went to bed last night not knowing if I could do another day at this whole “mothering” gig that I am obviously so not suited for…fairly confident that I wouldn’t make it.

    Still not sure I will, but today you made me smile (in the midst of an eternally screaming infant who sounds like a chewbaca action figure with dying batteries).

    Thanks for the hope, Heather.

  • Gen

    I understand what you are talking about..even though I’m not a parent. All my friends have young children under 10 years (the oldest is 8 and the youngest is roughly 3 1/2 months for being born). I always joke with them and say going to their house is instant birth control with all the sassying, crying and screaming. One friend lost her baby’s father (soon-to-be husband) when her child was only a few months old. She says she doesn’t have the mother gene and that she is afraid that her son will be damaged by the absence of his father. I have told her while it is a long hard road to raise her child by herself, she can do it and the child will be fine. Your story backed what I always said to her..even if you don’t think you can do it, a true mother always will continue on. Leta is a lucky girl to have you as a mom 🙂

  • Kimberly C

    Do you really mean it? She’s 19 months now- maybe one day she will grow out of the hell that is whining and screaming when I won’t let her watch That God Damned Little Mermaid AGAIN, for the fiftieth time in a week? Please, tell me that every day until it stops.

  • Lisa

    Kathie Lee Gifford, suck it!

  • Kim

    This is So. True. When I gave birth to Isabel they put her in my arms and my first thought was, “Whoa. Weird.” Remember when Miranda on Sex and the City said, “It’s like a giraffe just walked in the room,” or something like that? I totally got what she said. And now, when my 6 year old writes me notes that say, “I luv you Momee,” I realize that for every day I wanted to jab an ice pick into my temple it was all worth it for that minute.

  • Your blog is very inspirational. Thank you for always being honest and funny 🙂

  • Meg

    Thank you, Heather. I get so sad when I look at photos of my son when he was a baby because I remember how numb and awful I felt. I worry that I missed the best part of his life, when he was cute and cuddly and just, well, a baby. You’re telling me it’s o.k. I didn’t enjoy it, and it’s o.k. to look back and photos and enjoy it now. And it’s o.k. to LET GO the guilt I feel for not enjoying it back then.

    I haven’t looked at my five year old’s baby photos for a very long time because I feel so guilty when I do. I’m going to go do that now.

  • Val

    We have a 5 year old. You understand. I love you!

  • Kelly

    I’m not a parent, but you really are an inspiration. I love reading your blog, I look forward to it every day. So, thank you for putting yourself out there.

  • Clare

    Heather:

    You are so beautiful to me!

    Clare

  • Kitty

    Wait until she hits puberty.

    I too felt like that, when my daughter was born that is. I thought I had something wrong with me. It does get better. Then hormones start acting all funny making the once fun and loving kid turn into a PMS monster. Then you have to go through hell all over again.

  • Elisabeth

    I’m not a mother, so I haven’t been through post partum depression, but reading this made my eyes well up with tears. I love to way you love your daughter and I admire your ability to be honest.

    I think this is an important message to people who aren’t parents, as well as those who are. Whatever you’re going through, it’ll be okay. We get through it when we have each other.

    Thank you.

  • It does get better – I said something similar to my sister-in-law who right now is struggling with a very active 11-month-old. I get tired after spending just a few hours with the little munchkin, you forget how difficult it is when they’re young.

    My 5 year old got off the kindergarten bus one day asking if she could bring some lip gloss to school so that she and her friends could pretend to be “sassy teenagers”. I was like, “Whaaaaat?? What happened to my baby?”

  • I’ve been trying to have a child for three years now, and your post struck me because so often, we baby-quest’ers get the idea that everyone else has it so much easier than us. I’m sorry you had such a tough time after Leta’s birth. And I love how awesome you are as a mom now — still keepin’ it real (and hilarious), but with that mommy-love you once feared you wouldn’t have.

  • I made it too and am loving every second of it. I take it back. I’m loving every second except for the ones where he is awake in the middle of the night asking to eat breakfast and play with dinosaurs. During the day, however, I’m loving it!

  • bri

    I am in The Good Place right now but it took a year. I was also surprised because I went through so much crap and infertility and loss and did I mention crap in order to have him, and I thought that meant I would be deeply in love from the get go. I was decidedly not. But I am now. I am excited to be with him every day. Just in time to go back to work. Bleh.

    Thank you for this gorgeous post. Seriously.
    -Bri, your best friend in Brooklyn. Ha.

  • I like your sentence about wondering what her voice might sound like. Doesn’t it boggle your mind to think what kind of ten year old she’ll be like? Or at 13? Or what it’ll be like when she can express herself on the page as you do?