the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Wherein I return to my roots

Marlo’s favorite thing to do now, after having been taught by her evil grandmother, is to climb stairs. Great. Because this new house is basically four stories, three above and one below ground. Lots of stairs to climb! No problem for an almost thirteen-month-old who routinely dives off of our bed head-first and loves the sound her skull makes as it hits the floor!

For the first few days we were living here we didn’t have the right size of gate to install in areas where a gate might help things out. So while unpacking we would take turns grabbing her from the bottom of the staircase, returning her to a safe spot, and then grabbing her again. Over and over and over, and I finally understood why some women say they stay thin because they chase after their children. Because before, there was no chasing. It was me in one corner folding clothes while Leta sat perfectly still on the couch reading Chaucer.

One morning last week we woke up having not set up the gate the night before, and not two seconds after finishing her bottle she charged off of our bed, out of our room, and headed straight for the stairs. I looked at Jon and said, dude, it’s time. Which was code for: you get the dogs, I’ll get the one over here with rabies.

Except, when I caught up with Marlo at the top of the stairs, the smell of death smacked me right in the face, and I could see a squirrel tail of poop all the way up her back. Changing just a regular diaper these days is not unlike trying to take a sumo wrestler to the ground, so ones that are filled with that much feces require the handiwork of at least two people. One to restrain her limbs, and the other one to gag.

This was the beginning of a string of fatal errors. Because I immediately yelled for Jon who had just that second let Coco out of her crate. And Coco does not like to linger. The moment she gets out of her crate in the morning, it is high time to pee. So there had better be an open door somewhere. Where’s the open door? Where? Where? And if you’re even a second off with your timing you’ve suddenly got a shallow indoor pool.

But we weren’t thinking about this right then, no. No, there were other more fragrant matters at hand. And all over my hands, because Marlo was trying to wrestle me to the ground, whipping chunky poop into the air as she struggled. Have you guys missed the poop talk? Because I was getting used to a life where I didn’t have to write about it so much. And just that side effect alone makes Jon’s vasectomy totally worth it.

So we were getting Marlo cleaned up, and I don’t even think I could describe the process to you, because it was just a total blur: poopy limbs waving around like windmills, both of us shoving wipes at each other, that kid screeching at the top of her lungs. When suddenly I remembered Coco. No, wait: suddenly, I reeememmmmberrrreddd COOOOOH-COOOOOOH.

OHHHHHH NOOOOOOOO.

And we could not find her anywhere. I called and called, searched for twenty minutes. You have to understand: there are probably fifty different closets in this house, twenty-nine of them with locks. Originally they each had a different lock until we had a locksmith come and change them all to one. So that, you know, one of the kids locks herself in the closet and OOPS, WE CAN’T FIND THE RIGHT KEY OUT OF ALL TWENTY-NINE OF THEM.

I looked in every closet, every nook, under every bed. And because she wasn’t coming when called I just knew something terrible had happened. AND OH HAD THERE EVER.

Canine diarrhea in five-foot-circumference puddles in the kitchen. In the living room. In the dining room. All over the dining room wall. You guys, Coco is a small dog. I don’t think a Russian submarine is capable of holding that much liquid.

Jon was in such a place at this point that I instructed him to calm his shit down, go over to the bar in the kitchen with the girls and eat breakfast. He was doing the satan ventriloquist thing, stringing together obscenities under his breath, and I made him promise me that when I found Coco and brought her through the kitchen to the back yard that he would not fling his cereal spoon at her head.

That poor dog. She was on the top floor in our office hiding behind a filing cabinet. And I literally had to drag her by the collar to get her to come downstairs. Then I began the tedious clean up, on my hands and knees. Soaking up dog shit. Wiping away dog shit. Throwing away dog shit. And it just went on and on and on. Toward the end of it I had sweat rolling down my forehead, but I was petrified that if I dared to try and wipe it away I’d get either human or canine feces in my eyes.

BUT GET THIS.

It wasn’t Coco.

I mean, I KNOW!

Because later that afternoon Chuck sprayed both the living room and the kitchen again with five more gallons of diarrhea. And it was the same color, same texture, same consistency. Coco must have seen the mess Chuck made that morning and been all, SOMEONE is getting in trouble and it ain’t gonna be me!

I’m with you, Coco!

A $200 trip to the vet and runny poop sample later, and we found out that Chuck just had an upset stomach. No parasites. Probably something he ate in the backyard. Couldn’t he have just said so? I would have gladly carried him to the back door myself. Because now there’s a giant brown stain on the wall in the dining room, and when I’m showing friends the house, I have to say, “That? Oh, that’s where we spray our dog shit.”

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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