the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Charlie foxtrot

This is beginning to sound like a broken record, I know, but the last several days of our lives have been nothing but a tidal wave of heartbreaking chaos. Jon’s sister-in-law died on the morning of his birthday, this following a night that had ended in a pretty ugly display of ineptitude in parenthood on my part, one that I’m not sure I can forgive myself for.

Marlo isn’t sleeping, and yesterday we had a bit of a medical emergency with Leta, only to get a flat tire on the way home. This morning I woke up at 2 AM to the smell of poop, couldn’t get back to sleep, and then when Marlo woke up at 5 we discovered another pool of canine diarrhea, this time all over the inside of Coco’s crate.

The next few days are going to be consumed with family obligations, and sadly this will be the fourth funeral of a close family member we’ve attended in the last nine months.

I can’t really find anything profound or funny to say right now, only that as Jon was changing the flat tire I had to arch my back so that my face was facing the sky directly. And then I shouted, PLEASE, LIFE. LET US CATCH OUR BREATH.

  • dianaparkhouse

    2010/07/27 at 10:07 am

    Take care of yourselves xx

  • lesliepaige78

    2010/07/27 at 10:09 am

    dooce, jon, and the rest of the family, my deepest sympathies. i dont know why the deaths of family members seem to happen in clusters or why life is full of shit all at one time, but “the internet” has been there. i pray you get to catch your breath even if its forced by a complete shut down of your own doing.

  • Just Jill

    2010/07/27 at 10:15 am

    Sending lots of love, light and hugs your way.

  • EarlGreyHot

    2010/07/27 at 10:21 am

    For whatever it’s worth coming from some stranger on the internet, I can only say I’m so sorry. My heartfelt sympathies to you, Jon and your family.

    And I second what diana at #1 said, please take care of yourselves. I have no idea what your parenting mishap was, but please, do forgive yourself. You are only human, you cannot do everything perfect. Failing every once in a while is part of being human. Actually, it might be a requirement.


  • melnyc

    2010/07/27 at 10:30 am

    So sorry for your losses. I learned the hard way that tragedy does seem to hit in clusters, and you feel like life will just keep crapping on you. Eventually you come out the other end and catch your breath, but it’s hard.

  • cipsi

    2010/07/27 at 10:34 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss and for all the chaos in your life right now.

    Wishing you all some peace, and soon.

  • Bratfink

    2010/07/27 at 10:34 am

    John and Heather, so sorry this has been such a tough time in your family. I’ll send up some prayers for ya, and please know that things will get better because that’s the way life goes. Up and down, up and down.

    And NO ONE is a perfect parent. Deal with it! Forgive yourself, start anew, and we’ll talk again when you have teenagers.


  • Truthful Mommy

    2010/07/27 at 10:37 am

    Heather and Jon, I am so sorry for all this shit that keeps piling on top of you guys. I know the feeling, and when it hurts to breathe because you have to fight back tears and don’t have the strength to suck in the air..cry, scream, shout; do whatever you have to to get the weight off of your chest. Don’t be so hard on yourself about the mothering, none of us are perfect and its a hard job. No no one can be expected to have it all together,all the time. It’s all part of being human. Go spend time loving on your family,catch your breath. WE will all be here when you get back! Big Hugs!

  • ChickWhitt

    2010/07/27 at 10:41 am

    Love and peace to all of you.

  • Shana in Texas

    2010/07/27 at 10:41 am

    My sincerest condolences on your loss.

  • Rebecca Siewert

    2010/07/27 at 10:42 am

    Your family is in our thoughts and prayers

  • Angeerah

    2010/07/27 at 10:49 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. You bring laughter to me on my days when I need it so I hope you find laughter and happiness for your family very soon.

    Be well.

  • kapachino

    2010/07/27 at 10:50 am

    Wow. I’ve felt that way many times myself this year, and I don’t wish it on anyone. It seems that when one major thing happens all these other annoyances pop up that just become unbearable. Thinking about you.

  • Gypsy

    2010/07/27 at 10:50 am

    My deepest condolences to Jon. A death is stunning, even when you know it’s coming.

    Of course, we’re all dying to know about your parenting gaff – because we want to feel better about our own hideous gaffs. When you’re ready to talk about it …

    I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours. 😉

  • d3 voiceworks

    2010/07/27 at 10:50 am

    we’re not sleeping well, either, as lio too is fussy. makes one cranky and thus …

    my moments of parental ineptitude are numerous. i look back at them and think “well, that’s in the past” and try to do better. not easy.

    sympathies from sugar house.

  • JessicaM

    2010/07/27 at 11:05 am

    So sorry for the losses that you’ve gone through. Big hugs to you all.

    Also: be gentle with yourself. Parents make mistakes all the time. It’s called “being human.” Apologize. Talk it out. Forgive yourself.

  • SurprisingWoman

    2010/07/27 at 11:09 am

    Go and be with family. Take the time to breathe and come back when you are ready.

    I am so sorry for your family’s losses.

  • Dani

    2010/07/27 at 11:11 am

    Awww man and I thought I had bad birthdays.

    I’m so sorry for your whole family. I hope life gives you a break soon. It’s totaly okay to not always bring the funny. It proves you’re human.

  • Heather J

    2010/07/27 at 11:13 am

    Many hugs to you Armstrong family. You’re in our thoughts.

  • georgiagirl

    2010/07/27 at 11:20 am

    I Know how it feels when Life gets you down and just keeps kicking the shit out of you. It hurts, but it will eventually stop. In my experiences, usually just long enough to let you catch your breath before it starts kicking again.

    Sending you lots of Love, Light, and Hugs.
    Take all the time you need to pick yourselves back up, and know that we will all still be here when you can get back.

    All my Love to you both…

  • evergrey

    2010/07/27 at 11:20 am

    I can’t imagine how much stress this has been on you all. I’ll be praying for your whole family and for relief from this poop storm. I’m so sorry – hugs to you.

  • theurbancowgirl

    2010/07/27 at 11:30 am

    Sending love and thoughts to your family. My condolences on your loss.

  • lynseylou82

    2010/07/27 at 11:40 am

    Heartfelt hugs and condolences to you and your’s.

    I hope that breath comes soon. With a full on pool-side margarita, gentle breeze, palm trees swaying, “Ah, this is exactly what we needed,” vacation from LIFE.

  • Benny

    2010/07/27 at 11:55 am

    Take all the time you need. We’ll be here when you get back.

  • Blahggy

    2010/07/27 at 11:59 am

    Oh, Heather, I’m so sorry. It sucks when life does this kind of thing. At least there’s not a bobcat living in your house, right?

  • ilovelucy1976

    2010/07/27 at 12:01 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. I hope Leta is ok and on the lighter side–Marlo=nyquil right now. Just kidding. I hope she sleeps for you soon.

  • lexirand

    2010/07/27 at 12:01 pm

    Sending lots of love.

  • srising

    2010/07/27 at 12:27 pm

    Condolences to you and Jon and the whole fam. I’ll say a prayer for you guys. Things will look up. 🙂

  • Plano Mom

    2010/07/27 at 12:49 pm

    I’m glad you told us. So we can pray for you. Peace.

  • Lisa Dickie

    2010/07/28 at 5:46 am

    I am so sorry about Jon’s sister in law, that is awful. Wishing you calm seas during this shit storm that you are dealing with day after day. The fact that you found the time and strength to write today says a lot about you. Hang in there!

  • UW Girl

    2010/07/27 at 1:44 pm

    So, so sorry for you and for Jon.

    On those days when it’s hitting like a tidal wave, just remind yourself that all you really have to do is get through the next hour. That’s it. The rest comes. Just get through the next 60 minutes.

    And – at the risk of sounding like a total freak-a-zoid, when I feel like I’m about to loose my mind and cry until I die of dehydration, I make barnyard animal noises. Yep. Right there, in the car, I’ll start quacking like a duck or baa-ing like a sheep. I swear, it works better than xanax for stopping that bone crushing angst. At least for long enough to get home and down a glass of pinot. 😉

    Peace and calm to you, my dear.

  • srising

    2010/07/27 at 2:07 pm

    Maybe this will cheer you up for a minute:

    “Everyone was just kinda going nuts,” Homer tells Asylum. “We had a line of about 10 cars backed up on the street and the police were called because we were blocking traffic. The police showed up after a few minutes and basically congratulated us on being awesome.”

  • Debbie in Memphis

    2010/07/27 at 2:36 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You’ll all be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • JanetP

    2010/07/27 at 2:39 pm

    Heather & Jon, I am so sorry to learn of the loss of your sister-in-law. Sometimes it seems like too many sad things happen too close together, I know. Don’t be too hard on yourself, Heather. Hang in like you always do! Smooth sailing is on the horizon . . . in the meantime, thoughts and prayers are coming your way.

  • mrscunning14

    2010/07/27 at 2:42 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Hope things calm down for you guys soon.

  • Amy J.

    2010/07/27 at 2:57 pm

    My sympathy to Jon…and you too of course. My family went through something similar over the past couple of years, losing my nephew, my best friend, my father in law and my sister in law (even two dogs!), all within months of each other, in very tragic ways for most of them. The kind of stress this sort of trauma brings to your life is really so very hard…it takes a long time to come out of it.

    Hang in there. I totally know what it’s like to take your “funeral” clothes to the cleaners in anticipation of the next bad phone call…so horrible and painful. I’ll be prayin’ for ya both.

  • debramac

    2010/07/27 at 3:15 pm

    Dear Dooce,

    I’m sorry that on top of everything else, there is no bobcat.

    Just in case someone is saying/thinking, “what else can go wrong?!” Please immediately replace it with, “I live in a safe and friendly environment”.

    Cuz, we all need you. Cuz we all love you.

  • Pixie

    2010/07/27 at 3:57 pm

    Dooce, I am sending positive vibes your way….hang tight against these times….give each other hugs & kiss the kids.

  • victorychik

    2010/07/27 at 4:13 pm

    hi heather and jon –

    i’m so sorry to hear about the last few days. i hope things start looking up for you quickly.

    sending love & light… <3

  • Tracye

    2010/07/27 at 4:16 pm

    I do that daily. Look up and scream at the universe to give me a break cause LIFE? Life is precarious…

    My heart goes out to you and your family. May you find some measure of peace during this time.

    Stay strong Armstrongs…

  • writtendad

    2010/07/27 at 4:19 pm

    Very sorry to hear about the loss, and on Jon’s birthday none the less. There is no easy way to get through the loss of a family member. My thoughts are with all of you as you try to cope through all of this life stress. I hope all is well with Leta and that the little night owl decides to sleep.

  • Mandy

    2010/07/27 at 4:24 pm

    Wow, it’s sounds like it’s a ‘stop the world, I wanna get off’ period. Very sad to hear about your sister in law. My Dad died of cancer and, yep – just know what you are going through with that.

    Try and find peace where you can. I think we have much more control that we give ourselves credit for in the midst of the madness. Find that peaceful moment and breath. Of course, I am preaching what I am not practising myself!

  • Grey.and.Vis.Mom

    2010/07/27 at 4:38 pm

    sending love your way! i hope you are able to sit down and take a good breath soon… i’m horrible at sympathy messages, so just know that you’ve got a million hearts behind you, sending strength to all of your family.

  • hmccreary

    2010/07/27 at 4:53 pm

    I am so very sorry for all the losses your family has suffered through as of late. As someone who has a 16 month old daughter(dear lord) that I’m currently trying to train (yes I said train) to sleep in her crib for the first time ever, and who just suddenly lost her mother-in-law, I understand how much life can really suck sometimes. As fo the other stuff….parenting is THE hardest job and you are required to suck at it every once in awhile so don’t be too hard on yourself. Your family is in my thoughts.

  • Katie Kat

    2010/07/27 at 5:31 pm

    Oh sweetie… anyone who envies your life has a lot to learn about “be careful what you wish for.” I know you are blessed beyond belief, but I’m not sure I know anyone (you AND Jon) who work harder, feel more blatantly or suffer through things more heartfully than you! We all have tough times, yours are seemingly unstopping. I’m so glad you have an internet community to try and ease a LITTLE of that pain/aguish/hardship/GODDAMMIT LET ME BREATHE times!

    I hope you and your family find some consolation in the good times you remember about your lost family members and pull together to be stronger for having known them.

    And… get some Spot Shot for the doggie diarrhea! 🙂

    Love and hugs…

  • wordsupmixed

    2010/07/27 at 5:50 pm

    I really feel for you. I know it’s like. Over the past 10 years I’ve had two startups fail, five major medical failures for me (including diabetes and a 99% blocked coronary artery. I so love stents). My partner has been crippled by neuralgia and recently spent five days in the hospital because a mis- prescribed ssri. Getting off the drug was not easy, gave her something like dysentery, which made her dehydrated which made her “not all there”. The hospital had a hard time accepting that she wasn’t abusing drugs but was being abused by a drug.

    On top of that, we lost my father, a friend of 30 years and three other people in one year. then we had to go bankrupt and we lost our house.

    We survived. We are not doing wonderful but we survived. One suggestion is to keep your eye on the financial ball. if you can keep them from getting out of control, you’ve just survived 90% of the trauma. Second, put your own mask on first which means taking advantage of anybody else outside of you and you husband for taking care of the kids and the dogs. If you need to, build a Velcro wall with a plastics sluice way underneath. Stick the kids of the wall, take a walk. Train them to think of it as fun and DYS will stay off your back. Alternatively, the Velcro a really high, stick yourself up there and put in earplugs so you can sleep.

    You really are a much better place than we are. We have survived and so I’m confident you will survive.

    Today, it’s around the full moon. Take a walk with your husband and look at the moon. It’s gorgeous naked eye. it’s amazing in binoculars. It’s a good slice of life that is peaceful and quiet to indulge in.

    Take care and pet the doggies for me.

  • Katie Kat

    2010/07/27 at 6:01 pm

    P.S. Can I just say that MY parenting meltdown of the century involved me screaming at my daughter so vehemently that she almost VOMITED? I’m not kidding! I was SCREAMING at her and SPEWING such vitriol, that she gagged and almost puked. So THERE. I one-uped you on the bad parenting award nominee. 🙂

  • katstermonster

    2010/07/27 at 6:09 pm

    I’m so, so sorry for your and particularly Jon’s loss. I can’t say much, except hang in there, take as much time as you need, and I promise you: ineptitude comes with the job. The very fact that you recognize that you screwed up makes you a better mother than you were before. I promise.

  • mommioandretti

    2010/07/27 at 6:31 pm

    i’m so sorry for your loss(es). i’ll be praying for you all as often as you come to mind. take as much time as you need. i know i speak for everyone when i say, i’ll be here when you return. xoxo.

  • Victoria_Girl

    2010/07/27 at 6:44 pm

    Hugs and love.

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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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