the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Featured community question that will have everyone sniffing their armpits

Today’s featured question comes from user musickatt:

Last week Leta spent a weekend night with my mom, and when we picked her up my mother just snickered like a witch. I’m used to this, and it’s always followed by something like, “I fed her ice cream for breakfast,” or, “I let her stay up until 2AM,” or, “Did you know how much she loves Diet Coke?!” Grandparents are evil and the source of all pain in the world. And they take great pride in this.

Turns out this time Leta had let slip a secret, I guess. My mom had told Leta to go play while she took a shower, and Leta asked why she showered so much. My mom said that everyone showers every day, and Leta was all, what are you talking about? I don’t think I’ve ever seen my parents step foot in the tub! Right. And we pick our noses and wipe our mouths on our shirts and enjoy fondling farm animals.

Now, I don’t shower every day. No. Neither does Jon. I try to make a habit of showering at least every other day, but sometimes that doesn’t happen either. It all depends on my workout schedule, whether or not I need to dress up for something, and Jon’s reaction when I sit very close to him. If he recoils, I estimate I could go at least another day.

Leta doesn’t ever see us take showers because she’s usually at school or in bed when we do so. It’s a byproduct from working at home, I think. I mean, at the beginning of the school year I’d always have my fancy on when dropping her off at school because I wanted to make the best impression I could, but now? All the other parents have seen my bed head and the crust in my eyes. If I showed up with make-up on they would think someone was kidnapping Leta.

And on those rare occasions when I do pick her up after having showered, she gets really excited thinking that Mommy and Daddy are going somewhere for the night, and now someone really cool is going to put her to bed!

So now my showering habits are all about managing expectations. If I show up clean, there had better be a surprise coming! Yes, Leta. The surprise is that your bedtime routine is getting cut short tonight, because Daddy showered, too. If you know what I’m saying. HEY-OOOH!

  • VegasNative

    2010/05/27 at 10:06 am

    I feel so relieved- I AM NOT ALONE! Dudes, I shower maybe once every other day and I only wash my hair once or twice a week, when I can start to smell it without sticking my nose in it. I figure, as long as I’m changing my underwear regularly, I’m cool.

  • WanderingOne

    2010/05/27 at 10:11 am

    Man, I SO wish I could get away with that. I mean, I probably could, if I timed it properly and if I could keep my hands out of my hair for two seconds, but, in this case, I generally let the OCD win. Plus, I have a hard time getting my day going if I don’t wash off the previous day first. *shrug* But, as I say, more power to you, and I am VERY jealous.

  • austinmomof7

    2010/05/27 at 10:21 am

    My husband showers every day. Sometimes twice a day. It’s totally weird and creeps me out. And I say that with love in my heart. I, however, am a stay at home mom in a neighborhood full of overachieving, helicopter, stepford wife moms. I quit trying a really long time ago. I aim for two or three times a week. During the summer, we spend alot of time at the pool. That counts, right?

  • PunkinP

    2010/05/27 at 10:23 am

    Oh yay, for the every other day(or every other other day) showerers! I totally feel better about myself now;-) And you know what? I don’t even bathe my baby every day. Ha! Take that clean people! This post just tickled me so much.

  • Delightful

    2010/05/27 at 10:25 am

    I started laughing before I even finished the first paragraph because I knew where this was going.

    You know my secret? I have super oily hair so I use pre waxing powder on my hair/roots in the mornings. I shower at night but without the powder by mid afternoon my hair is ICK! Give it a try and you might actually be able to go without washing for 2 weeks!! haha. I buy it at Sallys Beauty supply (better than baby powder because it has NO scent and it a bit less flour-y)… and uh, this is for everyone else who has to look showered n stuff for the public life.


  • famousamy

    2010/05/27 at 10:25 am

    I *have* to shower every morning and wash my hair. If I skip the hair part I feel overly warm all day.. like my scalp controls my temperature. Not to mention it looks like someone doused me in baby oil.

    Assuming you’re a pit-shaving kind of gal – do you shave your armpits even if you don’t shower every day or can you get away with skipping a day there too?

  • dialing footnoterphone

    2010/05/27 at 10:27 am

    I take a shower every night, but I wish I could go one day without feeling the need to. I feel crazy when I haven’t showered, I feel dirty and stinky and that my scalp is coated with a layer of grease. Also, I wash my feet when I get home because I wear flip flops all day and get squicked at the idea of sitting on my bed with dirty feet.

    I realize these fears are unfounded, because I’m a very clean person and I wash my face and hands more than I need to. This knowledge does not stop me from taking a shower every night, shaving my legs every other day, and obsessively washing my hands 20,000 times a day.

    Needless to say, I wish I could take a break from that kind of crazy and just not shower. How spontaneous!

  • dooce

    2010/05/27 at 10:27 am

    Is this too much information? It probably is, but I don’t have to shave my armpits but once a week. The hair there just doesn’t grow that quickly.

    My dad just hit his head on his keyboard.

  • famousamy

    2010/05/27 at 10:32 am

    Ugh. JEALOUS!

  • barbara

    2010/05/27 at 10:40 am

    I’ve skipped showers out of sheer laziness. At least you have an excuse!

  • medwards

    2010/05/27 at 10:40 am

    I shower every day Monday through Friday, but I have an office to get to daily. I usually skip Saturday’s unless I have to go somewhere “important”. Sunday makes up for not showering on Saturday. I don’t shave but once maybe twice a week. I’m blonde so the hair has gotten less as I get older, my husband doesn’t care and I don’t care nearly as much as I did when I was younger.

  • Remembrance

    2010/05/27 at 10:41 am

    I’ve never heard of this and I don’t even have a Sallys Beauty Supply, but teach me how to use that pre-waxing powder! I will go find such product!

  • Delightful

    2010/05/27 at 10:42 am

    Uhhh… since stopping birth control my legs and underarms get a 5 o’clock shadow. Oh and don’t forget my donald trump eyebrows or toe knuckles… those are getting hard to keep up with.

    *drops head on keyboard*

  • poopinginpeace

    2010/05/27 at 10:45 am

    My husband will go all weekend without showering even if he’s worked out in the yard and worked out both days. YUCK. I however, have to shower everyday. I just feel so gross if I don’t. Some days I don’t get to the shower until 10pm but I eventually get there. I only shave my legs once a week though.

  • Delightful

    2010/05/27 at 10:47 am

    Remembrance …,default,pd.html

    Just flip your head over the sink. Sprinkle a good amount of the powder into your palms and rub your roots like crazy. You’ll get good volume this way too. Flip your head back, wash your hands, pat lightly dry, and use the extra moisture on your hands to clean your forehead and ears off. Then hairspray and done! Headband and high pony tail or whatever.

    There are waterless shampoos (same idea) out there but they cost like 5x the amount and the bottles come nearly half empty. Plus they all have a fragrance and sooner or later that smell reminds you of dirtiness.

    Sorry for all the comments! No more from me! Okay, byeee.

  • susanfishy

    2010/05/27 at 10:49 am

    This cracks me up. I shower about once every day and a half (more and my skin dries out) but I love bathing. It feels like a privilege, not a chore. I just feel good and awake when I’m squeaky clean.

  • mommica

    2010/05/27 at 10:52 am

    I don’t drink coffee. Showers are my coffee. Therefore, every morning, I walk from my bed – eyes still closed – directly to the tub.

  • TropicalPopsicle

    2010/05/27 at 10:52 am

    I love this! Showering every day is just so much work. It’s usually every other day or every 2 days for me. I don’t feel guilty for taking long showers since it feels like it evens out.

    I also enjoy it when my husband and I take showers on the same day.

    It’s great that so many of us have this in common!

  • Ethel Poostain

    2010/05/27 at 10:59 am

    Ewww. You’re all making me itch.

  • rwmorey71

    2010/05/27 at 10:59 am

    My wife works from home (she is in sales for IBM and they have very few “real” offices). She showers on days she has client appointments but otherwise not. I shower every morning before work more because it helps me wake up than out of thinking I’ll smell if I don’t shower. On the weekends I rarely shower both Saturday and Sunday — it depends on our social agenda! Of course, when I was young I rarely ‘remember’ my parents showering because they had a bathroom off of their bedroom and would often shower in the morning before waking me up so I can see where Leta would not ‘know’ when / how often you shower.

  • JillyLly

    2010/05/27 at 11:00 am

    HA!! I am so relieved I’m not the only one that showers every other day! And I have totally been a baby powder QUEEN when it comes to the off day of showering. I am going to have to try that pre-waxing powder. Sounds fantastic!

    And Heather, I am so jealous you can get away without shaving for that long. I get the five o clock shadow pretty much the day I shave. So if I know I’m going to be hanging out with a guy.. it better be on the “on” day! lol That or he gets use to the prickly pear that is me at some point.

  • christine1127

    2010/05/27 at 11:08 am

    I have to shower every morning, and sometimes in the evening if I’ve worked out. A shower at bedtime seems to help me sleep better. It just feels good going to bed clean. I don’t have an odor problem, but if I don’t shower (AND wash my hair) every morning, I feel uncomfortable and groggy all day. It wakes me up and energizes me.

  • VegasNative

    2010/05/27 at 11:19 am

    I have the same armpit situation- it grows very slowly and it’s not noticeable, so I just shave whenever.

    A big part of me not showering every day is that I CANNOT be bothered to blow-dry my thick-ass long-ass hair. This is why I let it go until I can smell it. I even practice karate three times a week and can’t be bothered to wash it after working out. Just too much work.

    I love TIGI’s dry shampoo. The scent is citrusy and yummy and lets me squeeze an extra day out of my stinky hair.

  • Fifi Coon

    2010/05/27 at 11:22 am

    I shower on the week days – I have to go to work. I don’t always wash my hair every day. I am also a blonde (gray) – so the hair on my legs is very light, along with the armpits. Legs get shaved once or twice a week, armpits more often. Now that it is summer, I will have to shave more often to wear capris at work, and shorts at home.

    My husband showers at least twice a day – sometimes more often…………. Men are kind of goofy!!!

  • missusclark

    2010/05/27 at 11:31 am

    Good to know I’m not the only one! I shower and wash my hair once or twice a week. My hair and skin is too dry for any more than that. The only problem is now that I’m starting perimenopause, the night sweats can leave me uncharacteristically smelly. My husband, on the other hand, needs his morning shower like some folks need air. Which is good, ’cause he looks like a feral poodle in the am.

  • pehuff

    2010/05/27 at 11:31 am

    I had to read this part twice: “I’d always have my fancy on”… You let your “southern” show there! Never heard that before! I may have to use that sometime.

    I shower every day but have started using dry shampoo a few times a week to cut down on water use and showering time.

  • jvanvelsor

    2010/05/27 at 11:33 am

    Good lord! when I was in my frisky twenties to fifties I showered twice a day. Morning for work and evening for my husband. Hair wash every morning. Now I’m in my slower running sixtiess so it’s a shower every morning and a hair wash at least every other day.
    I just like the feeling of being clean, not having sweat, body oils etc clinging to my body, and how long can a shower take? If you are in a hurry maybe 5 minutes if you skip the hair washing? And I’m not a particularly sweaty person.

  • Ex Files Chick

    2010/05/27 at 11:33 am

    More often than not, I skip a day of showering. Those are my ponytail or baseball hat days. But I keep a box of Pampers baby wipes stashed in my bathroom. I have to do a couple of swipes because a dirty crotch is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

  • vent

    2010/05/27 at 11:42 am

    You see, THIS is why I keep reading your blog….

    “And we pick our noses and wipe our mouths on our shirts and enjoy fondling farm animals.”


    OMG…you CRACK ME UP!

    Well, I’m one of those people who showers everyday, twice a day. And trust me, the way I sweat, you’d be glad I did. Showering in morning wakes me up and showering in the evening relaxes me. I’m OCD (sorta like Joan Crawford), therefore whenever I get into bed at night, my body has to be PERFECTLY clean.


    Mommie Dearest

  • Bluestalking

    2010/05/27 at 11:45 am

    I’m an every-other-dayer, too, unless it’s a really hot day, I’m gardening, or that “mysterious smell” seems to be following me everywhere.

    I judge how badly I need a shower by my hair. If I can get by with it – in a work-acceptable way – and I’m otherwise smelling okay I’ll skip the shower. That’s because I have hair I have to straighten so I don’t look like Einstein and it’s a major pain in the arse.

    Glad to know others are like me! There’s safety in numbers…

  • Tirzah

    2010/05/27 at 12:01 pm

    Hahaha, I love it! I’m usually an every other dayer too.

    PS Have fun with that. Jus sayin. 😉

  • My Sliver of Life

    2010/05/27 at 12:08 pm

    I’m just glad to know my mother didn’t invent the idea of feeding her grandchild frosting sandwiches and margaritas.

    Do they have a handbook or something?

  • Leball

    2010/05/27 at 12:09 pm

    Oh my! I’m shocked. I seriously shower every single morning, and lately I don’t do my hair, except today, I did. But I can’t leave the house without showering, I will be in a bad mood and ugh. I don’t know if I could even attempt this. Props to you guys and props for sharing!

  • hippiedaze

    2010/05/27 at 12:14 pm

    Dooce that’s nasty!
    Do you do the same with your kids?

    I sometimes wash my kids twice a day, depending on how dirty they are…eick.


  • spedrson

    2010/05/27 at 12:15 pm

    I’m with “mommica” – my shower is my coffee (well, that and Diet Dr Pepper:o)!! If I don’t take a shower in the morning I feel like I’m falling asleep all day long.

    The only time I don’t shower every day is when I’m visiting my parents. Maybe it’s a psychological thing, I was only allowed to take showers every other day growing up (I’ve been on my own for 15 years now). Or, maybe it’s just a gross factor thing – their shower has HORRIBLE water pressure and let’s just say that their standard of household cleanliness is not the same as mine, so I actually feel cleaner if I DON’T shower at their house.

  • cartoongoddess

    2010/05/27 at 12:16 pm

    Hey, if it works for you, then do it. You’re saving our precious natural resources, right?

    I shower every day in the summer (and most of the year), only because I ride my bike everywhere, which makes me perspire. I’d be in danger of knocking people dead with my heavenly aroma if I didn’t.

    For the record, I do not wash my hair every time I shower. Hair is twice per week.

  • beauxbeaux

    2010/05/27 at 12:20 pm

    I do the daily shower out of necessity (very oily hair & skin) and for enjoyment. It’s a few minutes to myself, and I just can’t go about my day without feeling clean. Besides, I can also practice my karaoke skills in the shower. The ONLY exceptions for me are if I’m very ill, or camping.

    It might be interesting to see a geographic distribution of shower habits – I wonder if people in drier climates shower less than those of us in humid areas? Or does water scarcity make a difference?

    Also, I bet your mom has heard some pretty amazing stories from Leta. Does she have her own blog?

  • hismommy

    2010/05/27 at 12:25 pm

    This is cracking me up. I shower in the morning before work and at night before bed. I wasn’t always this way, but my husband is an RN and back when we were dating, he would *make* me shower before getting into bed at his place. Seriously, he did not want me in his clean sheets with a day’s worth of dirty on me. He’s a total germ-o-phobe and now I am too. I get the willies if I try to get into bed without showering. I feel like my sheets will soon be crawling with all sorts of microscopic organisms. Shuuuuudddder………

  • thegreyattic

    2010/05/27 at 12:31 pm

    I shower every day, and wash my hair every other day. On a rare occasion- I skip a day, but I always feel so scuzzy. Shaving on the other hand happens about twice a week or if I know I’m gettin lucky. Showering helps me to wake up, more so than coffee. I just NEED it. And my husband is super clean for a boy. Sometimes he showers twice a day, and he always smells lovely.

  • tallnoe

    2010/05/27 at 12:43 pm

    I shower every day, but I don’t wash my hair every day. If I don’t shower, I feel like I feel today: foggy and groggy and totally not awake. And hot, like someone said. When I work out, I definitely shower with a hair washing thrown in.

    I understand others not wanting to shower every morning, but I think my boss wouldn’t like me if I didn’t… I wouldn’t be able to FUNCTION.

    We’re all just y’know… a little different. 😀

  • Brandy in Canada

    2010/05/27 at 12:47 pm

    Every single day for me! I have a compulsion about smelling good, I am terrified that at some point I will be stinky. I always have.
    When I was a teenager I used to shower two or more times each day and I’m not talking short showers either I’m talking hour long scalding hot ones.
    I would get up 3 hours before school to start my morning routine!

    My routine now is much shorter, mostly because I’m paying for hot water now!

  • TexasKatie

    2010/05/27 at 12:48 pm

    I shower once a day, if not twice a day. I can’t help myself – it is the OCD. Sometimes I get up late in the morning and must forgo a shower – and I feel like crap the rest of the day. SO yeah, I am a weird one who likes to shower a lot!

  • Kaff627

    2010/05/27 at 12:51 pm

    OK – seriously – shaving the underarms once a week? I hate you! I only shower every other day, max, because my skin and hair are too sensitive. Sometimes more often if I get particularly sweaty b/c my sweat is stinky…Last night though I got in the tub to shave my legs for the first time in like 2 weeks. It was simply mortifying. Hubby is working out of town so it isn’t like I have someone to impress and then he got appendicitis last week so I spent 5 days with him out of town and was just too unconcerned to bother with shaving then. But now alas it is hot and capris are needed so I had to shave. I feel as if a weight has been lifted. And your family cracks me up! I am reading through the archives right now and enjoying them.

  • smithie1996

    2010/05/27 at 12:52 pm

    Oh those blissful pre baby days when I could shower every day. I shower on the days my kiddo is in day care, the other days I should shower while he is napping but surfing the internet is just so much more fun.

  • ame_me

    2010/05/27 at 12:55 pm

    If I wanted to I could go 3-4 days without washing my hair. The more often you go longer between hair washes, the less greasy it will get… and I had a lot of experience with these breaks in college.

    Regardless of if I wash my hair or not I will usually shower once every two days.
    Regardless of how greasy it is, I wash my hair once every 3 days because of work (so if day 3 falls on the weekend pushing it to the 4th day is not uncommon!).

    I hate washing my hair so I try to push it as long as I can!

  • kaethend

    2010/05/27 at 1:09 pm

    I have a two-month-old. The shower is my coffee; if I don’t get it in the morning, I’m screwed for the day. And sometimes I bathe at night.

    Water-waster, I am!

  • deege

    2010/05/27 at 1:10 pm

    Yep, I’m a twice a week kinda girl. Body, hair, shaving my armpits. Shave my legs only when absolutely necessary.

    I could blame it on being a single mom with two kids, but really, they’re pretty self sufficient and I just can’t be bothered. On the off days a ‘mop job’ does the trick (you know, just cleaning the dirty bits) and I AM GOOD TO GO.

  • dominiquewynand

    2010/05/27 at 1:13 pm

    Alright, apparently/supposedly (according to others) I am a very attractive woman, and guess what?! I don’t necessarily shower every day…I clean up certain places…but, I shower when I need to, and that means during the week, there might be a day when I don’t shower…I like to wash my hair/shower one day, then just wash my body the next day, then wash my hair/shower another day…but there have definitely been days when I don’t step in the shower… and I smell fine…in all the important places…

  • dominiquewynand

    2010/05/27 at 1:15 pm

    yes, and about the hair thing…I have a huge mane of hair…and it’s very tiresome to wash and dry it! So, I will NEVER wash it every day!

  • lizgwiz

    2010/05/27 at 1:16 pm

    I shower every other night, unless I’ve done something to get particularly dirty or sweaty. I started cutting back on showers one winter because my skin was so dry, and it helped, so I never went back to the every day thing. And no one has ever noticed the difference.

    Americans are a little nutty about the daily shower thing. Europeans don’t shower/bathe nearly so often…and they’re all still alive.

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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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