the smell of my desperation has become a stench

May Ninth, Two Thousand Ten

Yesterday we heard Marlo mumbling, “Coco,” repeatedly as she shoved a wedge of graham cracker into her mouth. And then again as she crawled intricate mazes throughout the living room. That’s all she said yesterday, and we realized she may think it’s the only word in the world because all she hears every day is COCO! COCO! COOOOH! COOOOH!

Those damn babies! Picking up on shit!

I’m writing this as I sit in the SLC airport waiting to board a mega-delayed flight to New York, trying not to feel guilty that I didn’t get to see Marlo before I left the house this morning. Leta and I shared several hugs before I left, and I reminded her about that word she used yesterday, in proper context, the one I apologized for saying in front of her, and she said, “I promise I won’t say damn again.”

What? It’s Mother’s Day. I had to get my parenting in.

I’ll be in New York for less than 24 hours, appearing tomorrow morning on the CBS Early Show, talking about the “rules” around writing about your kids on the Internet. Yeeeaaaaahhh. I don’t have much experience with this issue, so I have no idea why they called me. I’m guessing… don’t write about that enema you gave your two-year-old?

So, it’s Mother’s Day. Wait, didn’t I already say that? PAY ATTENTION, HEATHER. And I don’t get to spend it with my kids. And you would think that this is exactly what a harried mother would want as a present, but I just feel awful about it. And I can pinpoint that feeling to the fact that I identify myself as a working mother now, and balance is incredibly hard to achieve. Damn near impossible (cover your ears, Leta).

I’ve been trying really hard to stop, no really. STOP. Like, cease moving. To enjoy the little moments with my kids. And it’s physically exhausting to force myself to do so, because life is just so nuts. And Leta can’t find her balloon, DID SOMEONE POP HER BALLOON? Are you insane? You think ANYONE would pop your balloon? No one is allowed to spell SPIDER or TORNADO while you’re in the room. POP YOUR BALLOON, AS IF. While Someone Important From LA is on the phone, and the guy who is here to fix the fence is knocking on the door, and oh no, COOOOH! COOOOH!

I know this isn’t a unique situation, and it’s one told over and over again, and you’re all OH GOD, not this work/life balance bullshit again, is this website turning into the third hour of a morning talk show? Where’s the poop, ARMSTRONG?

Well, I just got a text from Jon that said, “Aaaaaaaaand Marlo has the stinkiest smelling diaper EVER.” You have no idea how many of our texts to each other are poop updates. Well, then again, you probably do.

  • Daddy Scratches

    2010/05/09 at 10:41 am

    Love the “No one is allowed to spell SPIDER or TORNADO while you’re in the room.”

    My soon-to-be-5-year-old daughter has for some time been going through a phase whereby she doesn’t want me or my wife to hear what she’s saying or see what she’s doing … a problem she solves by telling us: “Don’t listen” or “Don’t see me.” We’re wondering at what point she’ll realize that we’re lying when we say “We can’t hear you” or “We can’t see you” when she’s standing right in front of us.

    PS: Happy Mother’s Day!

    PPS: Good luck with that whole “finding balance” thing … and, should you succeed, please let me know how it’s done.

  • kayakgrrl

    2010/05/09 at 10:51 am

    Aww… *hugs*

    I’m in awe of working mothers… And I’m dreading being one.

  • ehorn

    2010/05/09 at 10:55 am

    At least you’re going to New York for mothers day! I am cleaning a mountain of dishes, cat barf, and hooking up our AC. I would totally trade my day with yours.

  • Damaris Santos-Palmer

    2010/05/09 at 10:57 am

    you do realize that coco means shit in Portuguese?! We are Brazilians. I showed my mom your blog a while ago and she was all like “who is this person that names their dog shit?”

    so now you know why this sentence “Those damn babies! Picking up on shit!” made me pee my pants.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/05/09 at 11:12 am

    Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the awesome moms out there! I think a nice gin and tonic is in order to celebrate since you’re hanging out in the airport and don’t have the kids. At least it would make that idiot in front of you seem tolerable;-)

  • oddFrogg

    2010/05/09 at 11:23 am

    Happy Mother’s Day! I’m not sure how you manage to balance it all, but you do. You have a lovely family. Thanks for taking us along on your journey! You rock, girl.

  • LoriLS

    2010/05/09 at 11:38 am

    Let go of the guilt! Tell the family that since you are traveling this Mother’s Day, would they kindly celebrate you next weekend instead?? Who says you have to miss it just because you work? I don’t! 🙂

  • BuenoBabyGirl

    2010/05/09 at 11:46 am

    I’m finding parenting to be a lot like self-employment. When you’re crazy with work you just want everything to slow down. Then when you’re slow, you worry that you’ll never be busy again.

    It’s the same way with the kids. When I’m with them I just want to sit alone in an airport [yes, the gin and tonic would round out this scenario nicely]. Of course, when I’m working I’m worrying that I’m missing their one and only childhoods.

  • Pixie

    2010/05/09 at 11:54 am

    Hey Heather, good luck in NYC! I hope to catch you on the tube. As for Mother’s Day, just celebrate when you get home, slow down, take a few of those moments, and relish them…..poop, coco, the craziness….and may I suggest a Vodka Mojito!

  • Pandora Has A Box

    2010/05/09 at 12:05 pm

    Happy Mother’s Day and have a drink. I’m with @Schnauzie mom, a g&t sounds really good right now.

    Also, my daughter’s word for poop was “Coco”, and we’re not Portuguese.

    I think being in the moment and just STOPPING is incredibly difficult, but you’re aware of where you want to be, which is a large part of the battle. I don’t work anymore, but I remember feeling insane as I fielded phone calls from clients and fed babies simultaneously. It was HARD.

    Enjoy NYC!

  • Trina

    2010/05/09 at 12:22 pm

    Mother’s Day would not be complete without a good poop story. All Mom’s should share poop stories. There should be a subtext to mother’s day called POOP DAY. Wait, that’s every freakin day for us mom’s with babies now isn’t it.

  • Heather too

    2010/05/09 at 12:37 pm

    What’s the point of being parents if you can’t talk about bodily functions? My husband and I did it with our daughter, and we do it now with our dog. It must be pathalogical!! But who knew that bowel movements were an integral test of our child’s overall health and well being.

    I loved your comment that Marlo is asking for “juice” by saying “dooce”!!! Cherish the mispronunciations. They learn to say it right all too soon.

    My daughter used to say “washclosh”, my niece used to say “shlokat cake”. The adults keep the vocabulary alive, while the child leaves it in the dust.

    Oh, one other thing about language skills. When my daughter was in the first grade, she came home saying “tough shirt” at an appropriate moment. And, “I’m not going to eat that “crab” stuff.

    We started giving our daughter a quarter every time WE used inappropriate language. She didn’t really rake it in, because it raised our level of conscious thought. But, she did make some money.

  • Deborah L Quinn

    2010/05/09 at 12:44 pm

    re: giving your kids money when you swear…we had friends come to dinner once and my friend (childless) handed our 9yo a ten dollar bill, said “now we’re covered” and proceeded to curse all night.
    re: Jon’s poop-tweet: isn’t it a wonderful mother’s day present that HE is doing diapers instead of you? think of it: an entirely shitless mother’s day. Hallmark should make a card.

  • Nina Amelia

    2010/05/09 at 1:21 pm

    Kev and I are totally in on the poop updates. We use a lot of time discussing our dogs poop and I’m a little afraid of what is going to happen in August when we become “real” parents 🙂

  • Brea

    2010/05/09 at 3:23 pm

    Just checking in and was delighted to see a post. Happy Mother’s Day, Heather! Please don’t guilt yourself – it’s energy wasted. Maybe you can have a ‘make-up’ Mother’s Day when you get back – really milk it and have breakfast in bed with handmade cards and everything.

    We just got back from a walk on the beach, collecting sea glass. It was heaven.

    Wishing you and your family all the best, even when that ‘best’ includes dialogue about pooping. It’s all good…

  • jg2010

    2010/05/09 at 5:12 pm

    Happy Mo Day Heather!
    ETA- My check-you’re-a-person spammer test words were ‘crossways she’. Like Yoda.

  • jenwilson

    2010/05/09 at 5:30 pm

    Looking forward to watching the segment! I think the fact that you’re an amazing mother to your girls will make up for the fact that they don’t get to have you home this Mother’s Day.

    Have fun!

  • Heathers Garden

    2010/05/09 at 6:00 pm

    Try having to share your Mother’s Day with the actual mother of my stepson (the stepson who lives in my house). And when I’m nice like I was this year, waiting until she makes her plans to make ours, it’s so late that we can’t even get a brunch reservation. I know, ridiculous first world issue. Try to take a deep breath and relax. I know that’s easier said than done, but I worry about you.

  • muttlery

    2010/05/09 at 5:40 pm

    Happy Mothers Day! I feel for you with the work/life/mother balancing act. I work part-time and I’ve always said it’s ok once I’m actually at work – it’s getting there and back that is the hard part – so it must be really difficult when you work from home. I also try to remind myself to stop and be with them, instead of thinking about what needs to be done next. I’ve thought about getting those wooden leters everybody loves on their wall, that say things like COOK or LIVE or PEACE. I’d just get STOP.
    Kiss NY for me.

  • JulietZ

    2010/05/09 at 5:54 pm

    My husband is out of town and I just got online and found my teenager’s last google search: “Can a 16 year old run away from home?”
    The guilt is huge…I guess there’s a payoff somewhere, somehow at somepoint.
    As far as Mother’s Day — I just console myself thinking what a Hallmark load of crap holiday it is:) And then I bitch about in my blog.

  • mommyoffour

    2010/05/09 at 6:01 pm

    I was hoping for a Mother’s Day post from you today, and lo and behold, there it IS! And I must say, as stretched thin as we mothers can become, taking a step back and really enjoying the little things is what really matters, isn’t it? There will be a time in the future when you get the pampering you need and deserve on Mother’s Day, but when the kiddos are little, its just important that you are there for them. I am sure they missed you as much as you missed them today. And, for what its worth, I think you are doing a great job at keeping the balance! Hope you had a great day today!

  • mamatabea

    2010/05/09 at 7:05 pm

    …just wanted to say that I applaud you for still trying to chase those quiet moments even when things are crazy. It takes a long time to learn to be patient with yourself and actually ENJOY slowing down. But sometimes it just happens and it’s worth all the frustration and failed first attempts.

    Don’t know if you ever read “TO HELL WITH ALL THAT.
    Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife” by Caitlin Flanagan. It’s about many aspects of being a stay-at-home or working-outside-the-home Mom but mostly about embracing that freedom we have today to choose and embracing all the feelings that come with it. We’re allowed to love and loathe it because life is never perfect and neither are we.

    Aaaaaaargh, here I am getting all deep and meaningful on you…I am so sorry 😉 But I had to get it off my chest. You’re posts are always meaningful to me, serious or funny.

    All the best to you,

  • MPyrzynski

    2010/05/09 at 7:30 pm

    Happy Mother’s Day, Heather!

    How in the hell did you not slap the moron who blamed the two hour delay on Obama?

    Or… maybe he’s right. Maybe the President knew THAT GUY was on that plane and delayed it just to piss him off.

    Hey, it could happen!

    Don’t worry about “missing” Mother’s Day. Like everyone else suggested, celebrate it when you return. Your kids love you and you love them. That’s all that really matters.

  • Billygean

    2010/05/09 at 7:54 pm

    I have to give a stool sample next week. My boyfriend drives so he has to take it in on his way to work.

    My boyfriend is delivering my poop. That’s right.

  • lynnbied

    2010/05/09 at 8:56 pm

    our favorite home movies are of our 2 and 4 year old girls in the tub together and the 4 year old saying “shit down!” to her sister. Mothers Day is every day – write this stuff down or get it on camera because you will all enjoy it several Mothers Days from now

  • Mialulu

    2010/05/09 at 9:03 pm

    I think poop stories are great. For some reason when I share a poop story about my dogs on Facebook, I get all kinds of TMI comments… I just do not get it?

  • reymiland

    2010/05/09 at 10:18 pm

    It’s so sad that you can’t be with your own children on Mothers Day (isn’t it your babies first one?) because you are too busy pimping your lifestyle as a hip, modern day mommy who blogs about her children so EVERYONE can know every little detail?

    You will never get back the moments you miss Heather. Is all the fame and hoopla really worth it to you and your family?

    ~~just sayin’ is all.

  • Vander

    2010/05/09 at 10:55 pm

    I’m amazed how, even on Mother’s Day, people like reymiland have to question other people’s choices. How do you have any idea what Heather misses or is there for? Please let me judge your choices, because it looks like you are having fun judging Heather.

    Happy mother’s day, Heather and all of the other mommys. I would never want the job, but you make it look good.

  • LuckyMama

    2010/05/09 at 11:07 pm

    Heather- I think we have the same kids or we’re living in alternate universes!?! Leta and my daughter are only a few months apart, and my son is 16 months.

    The only word remotely close to a swear word that she has used to this day is DAMN…which for my potty mouth is a miracle! My husband is to thank for this word, but when she used it (twice) she used it in context so how can we complain? She knows now that DARN is a better word and has never said it since.

    My son’s 2nd word, after Mama of course, was OZZY! More like Oz-zee! Like you, I am constantly yelling at the dog so we’re pretty sure that is why he learned it so fast.

    Sorry to hear you hade to be away for Mother’s Day…I vote that next Sunday is “Make-Up Mother’s Day!”

  • The Bold Soul

    2010/05/10 at 1:03 am

    Maybe your special Mother’s Day bonus this year was NOT having to change that particular poopy diaper.

    True story: my nephew (who graduated college this weekend and got commissioned as a 2nd Lieut. in the Army) was 3 when he said the “F” word at his baby-sitter’s house (which is where we think he picked it up in the first place). Of course his mother and the babysitter explained to him that this was not a nice word. So fine. The next day, I was playing the “Cootie” game with him, you know the game where you make little plastic bugs? And as he finished assembling his Cootie, he looked down at it and very casually said “F***”. Like he was saying “cookie” or “dog”, like he was just trying it on for size to see how it felt. So I said, “Steven, what did you just say?” and he looked at me calmly and said, “I said F*** to the cootie”. And just then my sister walked in, and when I told her, “Mommy, do you know what Steven just said?” you know, trying to act like a responsible adult and all — and SHE just burst out laughing!

    So much for parental discipline. Sometimes, it’s just funny and you HAVE to laugh.

    And why are my Captcha words “again wifeliest”? Is “wifeliest” even a word? Does that make me the wifeliest of wives?


    2010/05/10 at 6:55 am

    “Well, then again, you probably do.”

    YA WE DO! 😀

  • TexasKatie

    2010/05/10 at 7:04 am

    Enjoy your stay in NYC! I was there recently and miss it so much – I love the city with a PASSION. Post a link to the Early Show episode! I didn’t get to set my DVR!

  • mom interrupted

    2010/05/10 at 7:11 am

    Although mine have been out of diapers for a long time, I still remember the poop conversations with my husband. But I don’t miss that. The only other place, besides with other moms, that grown people voluntarily discuss poop is when you’re a Peace Corps Volunteer where gastrointestinal dysfunction is a daily part of life. Don’t miss that either.

    Honey, if you find the balance between work and parenting, I hope you’ll enlighten the rest of us. I’ve been waiting a long time for that insight!

  • hbirdsall88

    2010/05/10 at 7:11 am

    My brothers and I are all away at school, and my mom hasn’t seen us all on Mother’s Day in a few years. I’m lucky this year because I graduate on Saturday and I get to see her and my grandmothers and have a quasi Mother’s Day. So I definitely agree with everyone else saying that you can celebrate anytime you want to. You’re a mom, and your daughters love you, that is the best Mother’s Day present anyone could ask for.

  • bobsbs

    2010/05/10 at 7:30 am

    Soooo… I’m guessing one wouldn’t want to touch the surface of Jon’s iPhone? Should we send for a swab of that?

  • teksupddg

    2010/05/10 at 7:48 am

    balance is about constant course correction; otherwise you’d be in stasis and you are so very clearly not in stasis 🙂

  • Domestic Goddess

    2010/05/10 at 7:48 am

    Balance? What’s that?

  • kh1027

    2010/05/10 at 8:10 am

    Happy Mother’s Day Heather! I understand the working mommy struggle! I read a book that really helped ease some of my frustrations with it and has helped me find a balance (most days). It’s called ‘Mommy Wars.’ It’s a collection of essays (i.e. you can read a chapter, put it down for 3 days and not lose your place) from working moms and stay at home moms. Both sides telling what their struggles were and how they worked to find a balance. It was helpful for me, especially when I went back to work after having my first child and wanted to quit my job every day, regardless of the fact we’d end up living in a tent and eating ramen noodles. :o)

  • missusclark

    2010/05/10 at 10:12 am

    But Heather, what about boobs? We haven’t heard about them in a while?

  • Bryony Boxer

    2010/05/10 at 10:51 am

    I don’t think it’s boring to talk about work/life balance or the inability to slow down. Everyone around us keeps telling us to slow down, all the self development gurus, but upon examining their output, I don’t think they’re taking their own advice.

  • medwards

    2010/05/10 at 11:59 am

    The guilt keeps on coming…you just have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and know you’ve done the best you could every day. There will be times when you’ll feel you made a bad decision but if you genuinly do the best you can then I firmly believe your kids will be OK and you’ll have that life you and your husband always wanted and they’ll come back for years to come on mother’s day because you were always there for them and you showed your daughters how to have the lives they want.

    I don’t think you can “have it all” but I think you can have what you want.

    Happy Mother’s Day!!

  • gladcow

    2010/05/10 at 12:02 pm

    I spent most of Mother’s Day weekend away from my kids, too. I was spending time with some wonderful women planning a meetup for the summer. It just so happened that the only weekend that worked was Mother’s Day. I felt rotten about it. Other women told me it was silly to feel so bad about being gone, because I AM THE MOTHER. I’m allowed to do whatever on Mother’s Day. Can’t say it helped much. Mommy guilt is tough stuff. It makes my world feel very small (and very expansive) that my first worry is disappointing my kids on Mother’s Day.

  • shood

    2010/05/10 at 12:34 pm

    I just need to tell someone this story and Y’ALL are the perfect people to tell.

    This weekend, someone dear to me in my family asked me if I’d started toilet training my 19 month old daughter yet. And before I could answer with “she’s not ready for that yet”, the family member said “oh, nevermind, you can’t potty train her; YOU’RE NOT THERE”.

    All I could hear were those words ringing in my ears “you’re not there. you’re not there. you’re not there…..”

    I have plenty to say in rebuttal, but honestly, I was crushed.

  • commspro

    2010/05/10 at 1:12 pm

    When my son was born 17 years ago, one of the best mentors I’ve ever had gave me a very valuable piece of advice. She said the term “balance” is a complete fallacy, and would only work if, like a justice scale, we had only two areas of focus in our lives.

    Instead, it is far easier to commit to being fully present in whatever moment/task we’re currently trying to achieve — time with our significant other or children, work, play, sleep, etc. Going forward, I felt so much less guilty leaving for work (or for an evening out with friends), knowing I’d been fully present with my husband and son the night before, and more able to be completely “present” at work until I returned home that evening. (In a way, I guess it’s really more akin to triage than balance.)

  • Ray1987

    2010/05/10 at 6:10 pm

    Well, I just got a text from Jon that said, “Aaaaaaaaand Marlo has the stinkiest smelling diaper EVER.”

    ^^I know you’re glad you weren’t there for that one. LOL! =P I hope you have a great, “Mother’s Day” (because heck, everyday’s Mother’s Day) with the girls when you get back. ;o)

  • allikat0103

    2010/05/11 at 10:20 am

    Dang it…I flew through SLC on Friday (my first time in Utah) and I was hoping you’d be catching a plane. I was a day early :- (

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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