the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Newsletter: Summer 2009

Dear Leta and Not-Maria Marlo,

Where in the world did the last three months go? I know that’s what you’re thinking, right? Because one day I’m pregnant, bloated, and really embarrassed that I have to ask someone else to tie my shoes for me, and then BOOM, I’m a mother of two beautiful girls, one who just started kindergarten and the other who burps and farts like an old man sipping scotch in a leather recliner as he watches reruns of Matlock.

Let’s start there, Marlo. Because all the rest of it is wonderfully boring: you sleep, you eat, and you smile. I had no idea babies could do these things without being bribed. I had geared myself up for an epic battle, because you never know with infants. It’s a total risk, a game of roulette, and I can’t even believe it’s legal in Utah to procreate because it is the ultimate gamble. Seriously! You can’t buy wine at the grocery store, but you can have sex, get pregnant, and potentially release a homicidal maniac into the world? Are you kidding me? UTAH IS SO CONFUSING.

Sometimes babies come out screaming and never stop, sometimes they are angry that you did this to them, gave them life and now? Now they have no choice but to live it, AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT. Turns out those are the ones who can read at a third grade level when they are only five years old. I guess that’s what they call a trade-off.

You came out and were all, hey. What’s up. Yeah? Really? Because I was just going to lie down over here and look cute. And then sleep. And then maybe sleep some more. And when it’s time to eat, I will. And then I will smile. And I will make you want to have more babies.

You are what I call The Ruse. And I am not falling for it, not one bit. No way. I’m guessing your kind is evolution’s way of sustaining our species. Because you and your irresistible cuteness and mood could fool a woman into having lots and lots of babies. BUT I AM NO FOOL. You know why? Because I have already lived through the third year of someone’s life, and I know yours is coming. And when it hits, when you throw your body across the floor in a fit of rage, I’ll be all SEE! I KNEW IT! Behind all those smiles and adorable dimples lies an evil three-year-old!

Where was I? Oh right. Burping and farting. Why would I be talking about anything else? Yours are so adult. So mature in tone and vibration. We never know if it’s you or your father or me, and let’s be honest, you always get the blame no matter whose it was. Total side benefit to having an infant around that we didn’t even know about! We can fart all we want and never have to take credit! We just point to you and go, dude, that baby! WHOA! WHO KNEW?

Thank you for that. Thank you for turning our house into a freshman dorm room shared by two boys who secretly use acne cream.

Leta, it’s true. You’re reading at a level that no one is quite prepared to deal with. And your writing is quickly catching up. In fact, the other day you drew a picture of Marlo and underneath it wrote, “I love my sister. She is beautifl.” DUDE! YOU ALMOST SPELLED BEAUTIFUL CORRECTLY! I almost had a heart attack, and was all WHERE DID YOU LEARN HOW TO DO THAT? And you got this goofy look on your face, started to shrug your shoulders and said, “It’s just a word, Mom.”

EXCUSE ME FOR A SECOND. That is not just a word, young lady. That right there is brilliance, and I called everyone in the family to brag about it. That is my right as a mother. Period. I couldn’t keep it to myself, and you should have heard me when I called Grandmommy, I was all BEAUTIFUL. THE KID CAN ALMOST SPELL BEAUTIFUL. And she was all, have you gotten out of the house lately?

This summer was a total blur, lots of play dates and swimming with friends while I sat in bed watching HGTV and breastfeeding Marlo. Let me rephrase that. Lots of HGTV. So much, in fact, that I think I have seen every episode of every series on that channel, and I’m confident that I could go into any house right now and stage it so that it would be sold within hours. I could be reading literature and studying philosophy, yes, that would make me a better person, but that’s just not as satisfying as watching someone take a sledgehammer to a cracked and unstable walkway only to replace it with DELICIOUS BLUE LIMESTONE. OHHHHHHHH. Sometimes when I’m watching a kitchen remodel I feel like a dog being scratched on its belly, and my leg is involuntarily flailing up and down. OH, CARRARA MARBLE COUNTERTOPS!

Anyway, here we are a family of four headed into fall for the first time together. I’m mostly excited about the darling footed pajamas ahead for you, Marlo, and Leta, the next few months of school are going to blow your mind, I just know it. Already the teacher showed you how to pump your legs on the swing, and when you got home you were all, not only can I read, BUT I CAN SWING. BY MYSELF. CALL GRANDMOMMY NOW.

I want those conversations to continue throughout your time in school, I want to hear everything even though I know there will come a point when that will be the last thing you want to do, tell your MOTHER about your DAY, and in the meantime I will continue to cherish the way you run to me at the end of the school day, wrap your arms around my leg or my arm or my neck depending on how fast I can kneel down, and say immediately, hopefully, longingly, “Is the baby here, too?!”


  • Erin

    2009/09/24 at 2:28 pm

    Awwww I missed the newsletters.

  • secondhandsally

    2009/09/24 at 2:28 pm

    Beautiful entry.

  • Jenn

    2009/09/24 at 2:28 pm

    Longtime reader here. Your girls are beautiful.

  • Jennifer

    2009/09/24 at 2:30 pm

    Your girls are beautiful. You deserve every ounce of the happiness that you are feeling.

  • Mariam

    2009/09/24 at 2:31 pm

    I missed these! So glad they’re back; your family is beautifl.

    Yes, beautifl. 🙂

  • kjc

    2009/09/24 at 2:32 pm

    BEAUTIFUL… words, photos, life. Your happiness just oozes from you.

  • Wendy

    2009/09/24 at 2:32 pm

    As always, beautiful. You’re a blessing, Heather.

    P.S. Stop making me want to have another baby, dammit!

  • Greygirl

    2009/09/24 at 2:32 pm

    How have I never noticed Leta’s eyelashes before? Jon better start polishing up those shotguns ’cause you’ll be beating the boys away soon.

  • Lauri

    2009/09/24 at 2:32 pm

    Enjoy every moment of it. It really does end all too quickly…They are soooo “beautifl”…

  • Daddy Scratches

    2009/09/24 at 2:32 pm

    I can so relate to how different the second can be from the first. If my son had come second, we’d have been all, “Shit, there’s something wrong with this one! We have to send it back!” … but we didn’t know any better, so we just figured all babies were designed to blow up your entire life like a hand grenade. Then my daughter arrived … and we realized we’d been getting hazed for two years.

    Still, despite how much easier the second one seemed, I didn’t fall for it, either; I practically had the urologist give me my vasectomy in the delivery room while my daughter’s head was crowning.

    But enough about me: congrats on your beautiful family. I’m glad you’re enjoying having a newborn more this time around.

  • kristin k

    2009/09/24 at 2:34 pm

    Your family is gorgeous. Especially Lotta.

  • Marcia

    2009/09/24 at 2:37 pm

    I just have to say that I really enjoy reading your blog. I have a four-year-old little boy and 3 beautiful dogs and I feel like your writing mirrors my life sometime. I lost on of my dogs yesterday, Bella, to toad poisoning and I have been absolutely devastated since. I haven’t stopped crying but this is the first thing I’ve read that made me smile. She was like my version of Chuck and I miss her dearly. Anyway I just wanted to say thank you.

  • Sue

    2009/09/24 at 2:38 pm

    Okay, that about wiped me out.
    Beautifl all around.

  • Michelle

    2009/09/24 at 2:38 pm

    I have missed the newsletters, too.

    Those days when they were excited to tell you everything that happened at school…those were wonderful. Now I have teenagers.

    How was school today? “fine”

    What did you learn? “nothin”

    What’s going on the rest of the week? “idunno”

    such joy.

  • SupaCoo

    2009/09/24 at 2:39 pm

    I am pretty sure your daughters are both smarter than me. And can make better bodily noises, too.

  • Nicole

    2009/09/24 at 2:39 pm

    Those spectacular girls are the perfect set. You deserve one-jillion, ten thousand million children. But, considering the way we all live vicariously through you, it’s kinda like you and John are the subconscious parents to our kids, too.

    Take that!! Now I’m ready to hear more about the Armstrong family donation to my daughter and son’s college fund…(c;

    Endless happiness to you and yours!

  • Not So Glamorous Housewife

    2009/09/24 at 2:40 pm

    Your girls are so precious. It’s amazing how wonderful they are. I can’t seem to have a conversation without talking about my own…see? My husband and I don’t know what we talked about before they came and all we can figure is we may have just drank a lot instead. Congrats on your wonderful family.

  • Anonymous

    2009/09/24 at 2:40 pm

    I just love your newsletters. Thank you for sharing your sweet family stories with us.

  • Anonymous

    2009/09/24 at 2:40 pm

    Despite my shitty, shitty mood, you have managed to make me smile. Congratulations on your beautiful family, and thanks for making me smile.

  • Kelly Kjellberg

    2009/09/24 at 2:40 pm

    that was beautifl! i really got a true sense of your joy!
    i was worried we were going to go a day without a post! thankfully no!

  • Melissa N.

    2009/09/24 at 2:41 pm


    On a totally different note…I have to share this with you because my family does not quite get the hillarity of the following:

    Last night after eating dinner outside, my husband and I were watching our 6 yr. old boy & 2 yr. old girl play with our chickens. Our light brahma rooster, Barack O’Brahma, started to hump a hen named Dot. With out missing a beat Owen shouts, “Hey Barack O’Brahma quit riding Dot, you are not a cowboy! I’m going to put a little hat and bandana on you. Mom, ya know that bookmark you gave me with the horse head on it? Let’s tape it to Dot’s head.”
    We were wndering how we were going to explain the humping…problem solved!

  • My Baby Sweetness

    2009/09/24 at 2:41 pm

    Very Sweet! I love the newsletters idea and am totally taking it on for my daughter!

  • Jayne

    2009/09/24 at 2:41 pm

    Some days, don’t you just think you’re going to burst from it all? In a good way, of course! I’m so, so very glad for you.

  • Brooke

    2009/09/24 at 2:41 pm

    So, so sweet. Those pictures are adorable. They are both so advanced for their ages! Leta’s spelling and Marlo’s farts! You should be very, very proud 🙂

  • Zoe, in Ireland

    2009/09/24 at 2:42 pm

    Aaaaw…love it! And I’m so glad that the second time around you got one of ‘those’ babies. They’re really very special(that’s why I have 3 under three. OMG….I was duped, wasn’t I?)

  • LFleur

    2009/09/24 at 2:42 pm

    Marlo is a beautiful baby. And it’s just possible that she is one of those kids who will be wonderful and easy and fun in every way at every age. It happens!

  • Anonymous

    2009/09/24 at 2:42 pm

    Lovely! Thank you for sharing this with us.


  • cheryl

    2009/09/24 at 2:43 pm

    happy the newsletters are back – love ’em. how awesome for marlo and leta to be able to read these years later. or, tonight, in leta’s brainiac case.

  • Sarah @

    2009/09/24 at 2:43 pm

    I love the first picture. Both of your girls are beautifl =)

    Also, I totally blame farts on my baby girl too. I figure it’s my right as a mother. I mean, why else would I change a million diapers a day?

  • Erin

    2009/09/24 at 2:43 pm

    I’m 29 and my best friend is my 36 year old sister. I hope it’s the same for your girls. Although we DID have our battles (Barbies tossed like ninja stars to name one).

  • Jaime

    2009/09/24 at 2:43 pm

    I so feel your pain on the “Can’t buy wine, but I can make as many babies as I want”. Utah is crazy, it makes absolutly no sense. But I love it here.
    I have an almost 2-year old, and I often feel like I did the day my mom let me drive off in a car all by myself with a shiny new drivers license. Am I allowed to do this???? There is no way I am responsible enough to RAISE A CHILD, right? But here we are and how amazing it is!

  • Emily

    2009/09/24 at 2:44 pm

    They’re both so beautiful! Glad to see the return of the newsletters.

  • Mommica

    2009/09/24 at 2:44 pm

    You make me want baby #2 – and HGTV – right NOW!

  • Laura

    2009/09/24 at 2:44 pm

    I am 28 years old with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and I only learned how to spell beautiful right 2 years ago. Well shit, who am I kidding 50 % of the time I still write bueatiful and let spell check do the rest. You have got yourself a smart, probably-not-future-engineer on your hands 🙂

  • Tara

    2009/09/24 at 2:44 pm

    i always love these. thank you for sharing your family with us. not only do you have a beautiful family, but the love you have for them just pours out of the screen and hangs on every word.

  • caleal

    2009/09/24 at 2:44 pm

    Excuse me, I had been paying attention, but then Leta’s eyelashes killed me dead. Seriously.

  • Liz

    2009/09/24 at 2:45 pm

    Beautiful. Your letter and your girls. Just beautiful.

  • Ceci

    2009/09/24 at 2:45 pm

    Dooce, you are the best. I love the way you write about your two daughters! I have two girls as well (3 and 7) and they are still so IN LOVE with each other it makes me wonder what I did to deserve that.

  • Anu

    2009/09/24 at 2:46 pm

    Beautiful! It feels new to see a newsletter that is no longer just about Leta, but then, change is inevitable 🙂 The pictures are awesome and they look so cute together. Am very happy for you and your family.

  • Kelly

    2009/09/24 at 2:48 pm

    thank you so much for sharing your life. I’m 9 weeks pregnant (1st time ever!) and I feel like I’m dying. I’m sick all day, every day, and I’m wondering what the heck I got myself into. Posts like these make me think that maybe I’ll look back and it will be worth it.

  • Serial

    2009/09/24 at 2:48 pm

    My big sister loved me like that, too, my mom said. Until I started talking (followed quickly by talking back).

    But still, precious.

  • Becca

    2009/09/24 at 2:48 pm

    Beautiful, Heather. I love this.

    And HELLO, Leta’s EYELASHES?!? Can I borrow them?

  • Jen

    2009/09/24 at 2:49 pm

    So glad the newsletters are back… they’re a lovely way of quantifying what’s going on with life. I am amazed people can read this blog and still manage to write emails stating that you somehow love one child more than the other.

  • SAHM: Surviving Assorted Home Mayhem

    2009/09/24 at 2:50 pm

    Love the newsletter. I ended up getting my “easy baby” first. When I had the next it was if God laughed a little and said; “Are you SURE you want to have a baby again, at your age, with a teenager in the house?” And I was all; “Yeah, hit me.” Yep, that’s pretty much what happened. Not to say I don’t love every minute of it…and there is a teenager who absolutley adores and is adored by his little brother…much like Leta and Marlo.

  • Milla

    2009/09/24 at 2:50 pm

    the cuteness is really making my ovaries itch. happy for you, heather. fuck the haters, though god bless them cus that monetizing site is really entertaining.

  • XOXO

    2009/09/24 at 2:51 pm

    Cheers, Heather – as always.


  • Anonymous

    2009/09/24 at 2:52 pm

    Oh My God those eyelashes. First time poster. Been reading forever. Love it.

  • beyond

    2009/09/24 at 2:53 pm

    beautifl post. i love that leta tells you about her day.
    i remember when i stopped telling my parents about my school day. when they would ask me how my day was, i would say ‘normal’. it lasted for a few years. i’m surprised they never sent me to boarding school after that started.

  • d3 voiceworks

    2009/09/24 at 2:54 pm

    yes, those eyelashes of leta’s! gorgeous!

    my 5 1/2 year old also cherishes when i pick her up from school, perhaps because i always have lio with me.

    at risk of being sent to the hate page, your writing teachers of years past might not like the many, many “she was all, he was all” when “she said, he exclaimed” would suffice. just a little distracting …

  • Alice

    2009/09/24 at 2:55 pm

    Look at those eyelashes on Leta!

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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