Our Lady of Perpetual Depression

Back to reality

Monday evening after driving back from Moab to pick up the kids, my mother who had watched both of them while we took our mini vacation pulled me aside, shook her head and said she had no idea how we did this. This day-to-day marathon with these kids. Not that they were bad, but she doesn’t remember it being so hard. I reminded her that she’s thirty years older than I am. And that since she’s Mormon she doesn’t have bourbon in her toolbox.

Or frequent four-letter shrieking. There’s that pesky sacrament thing she needs to be worthy of taking on Sunday.

Marlo is still sick with the cold that has traveled leisurely through the entire family. And so fresh from three days of childless, carefree life we were hit with three days of sleepless nights, three days of trying to rock Marlo back to sleep at two o’clock in the morning, three days of passing her off and saying, it’s your turn with Baby Rambo.

If I knew how to sew that’s exactly what she’d be for Halloween.

Since school started for Leta a couple of weeks ago she’s been appearing nightly in our bedroom. Nightmares, spiders, she fell off, didn’t you hear that loud thump? etc. We took the advice of one of the commenters here and made it a rule that if she comes to our room in the middle of the night she can’t sleep in our bed. She has to sleep on the blankets we’ve laid on the floor next to the bed. I thought I’d take it a step further and make the pile of blankets so uncomfortable that she’d want to go back to her own bed. Maybe this is why her stories always have Daddy playing the Prince and Mommy playing the Fairy God Witch.

Except I can’t make it uncomfortable enough. Two nights ago I forgot to put the blankets down, and she slept for six hours on the hardwood floor. WITHOUT A PILLOW. I woke up, saw her tiny body nestled onto that unforgiving surface and thought, I DONE RAISED SOLID SOUTHERN STOCK!

And then I covered her up with a blanket. I AM ONLY PARTIALLY HEARTLESS.

It was that night that Marlo was at her most ferocious. And after I rocked her for an hour she finally fell asleep against my chest. I knew that if I tried putting her back in her crib she’d pop wide awake, so I walked quietly into Leta’s bedroom, climbed up into her giant brass bed (the one that used to be in Marlo’s nursery), and slowly maneuvered into a position where we could both sleep soundly. That’s seems a lot easier than it really is. Imagine a scene in a movie where you mash up MacGyver, James Bond, and Jason Bourne, and they’re driving a bus that is going to explode if it ever goes below a certain MPH. Let’s just say that Marlo is the studio executive who is totally pissed that the producers have gone over budget.

That lasted a whole thirty minutes, and then suddenly she seized as if being electrocuted, threw her head backward and squealed like a pig in the mud when she saw the brass spokes of the headboard. I was seconds away from falling asleep myself when she used my knees as a diving board to thrust her body two feet into the air to grab those spokes, where have they been all her life?

That was it, I was done. So I marched back into our bedroom, stepped over Leta’s body and set a babbling Marlo onto Jon’s chest.

“She drew first blood,” I said. “She drew first blood.”

  • aslapintheface

    2010/09/10 at 1:11 pm

    Ah … the joys of parenthood …. just wait until she gets a stomach virus from hell (yes … I said HELL) and pukes and has explosive “bad rear” on you AT THE SAME TIME !!! My hubby just turned around and went back to bed … while making gagging noises. Oh yeah … they don’t tell you about this stuff in the department store aisle with the cute little booties and tiny little hair bows.

  • wboswell

    2010/09/10 at 1:22 pm

    When I saw this sentence:

    “she seized as if being electrocuted”

    I got scared for a second, since my child is an epileptic and I was all WUT?!?!?

    But she was apparently just doing the garden variety demonic baby seizure, rather than the super happy fun epileptic seizure. So we’re good.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/09/10 at 1:31 pm

    I think this story just pushed back the “Start Journey Into Parenthood” task in my planner by a solid year.

    Glad you got a few peaceful days in Moab though!

  • korakel

    2010/09/10 at 1:33 pm

    It’s times like this, that your blog is the best contraception I’ve encountered…to the point where I don’t want my husband to even look at me. He says thanks.

  • megerslee

    2010/09/10 at 1:43 pm

    That was a perfect description of my Saturday night, last weekend. NOT the middle of the night rendezvous I had hoped for…why/ how do the husbands sleep through EVERYTHING??

  • mommica

    2010/09/10 at 1:43 pm

    Baby Rambo costume: Done. But maybe not till next year…


  • Kaff627

    2010/09/10 at 1:44 pm

    Um what is up with the first graders coming into our room EVERY SINGLE NIGHT?! She has never in her 6 short years been a bad sleeper but now, every night J is waking up and coming into my room. Last night, twice! Hubby just bitches about it but won’t get up to put her back to bed. We used to have a love seat in our room and she would sleep there. But now it is climb up on my pillows or sleep in the recliner. She is not sick and she did that crazy screaming in her sleep while thrashing about thing last night (between wakings). Bummer about The Cold. Hopefully it is making its way out now so you can get some rest. And I am jealous of your mini-vacation! My goal is a weekend sans child but I want the entire first season of Glee to keep me occupied.

  • juliemewood

    2010/09/10 at 1:46 pm

    This is so my reality too! I feel your pain, although, not quite in the knee area.

  • adamsrice

    2010/09/10 at 2:02 pm

    This sounds exactly like when my son had chronic ear infections. Five months of screaming every night. God, I think I might just have nightmares now myself.

  • missusclark

    2010/09/10 at 2:15 pm

    According to my research (a.k.a. bitching with other parents) a first grader is going to be a misery to live with for about 4 months. They will be tired, cranky, overwhelmed and sleep fer shit. First grade is apparently big stuff! My twin “kinnygarteners” are also overtired and not sleeping well, and they only have a half day. Sigh….

    Feelin’ your pain, Heather.

  • glam mama

    2010/09/10 at 2:44 pm

    My daughter did the same thing as Leta. I, too, made a very uncomfortable pallet for her on the floor. Nothing could get her to sleep in her own room. That is… until she went to see Santa at the mall. I pre-arranged for Santa to mention that she was too old to be sleeping in her parents room. He took it a step further on his own (a step too far) and told her she needed to sleep in her bed to be on the “good” list. Even though I thought this was harsh… it worked! She went back to her room that night and stayed! I told her I knew she would because she was a big girl. She said, “No, I am doing it because Santa told me to!” 🙂

  • tallnoe

    2010/09/10 at 2:59 pm

    YAY and THANK YOU for the contraception post!

  • Marissa13

    2010/09/10 at 3:04 pm

    After one night away celebrating hubby’s (40th!) birthday, we came back to the first day of fifth grade and the first day of daddy home alone with the one-year old “angel” that currently rules the entire house.

    The “angel” has managed to lose/hide 7 of the 8 pacifiers we own and has the ability to make them disappear right before she has a melt down.

    The second night home I was awoken by a loud crash, bolted out of bed and found our fifth grader had some how knocked over his floor lamp in his sleep. The cheap torch style lamp — you know the one in dorm rooms and first apartments everywhere — shattered into a million pieces leaving shards of glass all over his floor. I didn’t even know it was glass!!

    I tried to vacuum and clean it up without opening a vein or waking the angel. Did my husband wake up? Sort of, he stumbled into the room and asked what happened and then stumbled back into bed. He was fast asleep minutes later.

    2 hours later, I was finally asleep when our little angel started wailing and calling “Mama mama” because she had thrown her pacifier out of the crib and couldn’t get it back. An hour later I was back asleep just in time for the alarm to wake me up.

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels like they’re being punished for trying to have one night alone with their husband.

  • spokeit

    2010/09/10 at 3:12 pm

    You’re nicer than my parents! They did the same thing as far as sleeping arrangements, but I had to make my OWN bed on the hardwood floor!

    I distinctly remember taking one look at the floor and thinking “I’d rather just be scared, it’s not worth the effort.”

  • nelsonsmama

    2010/09/10 at 3:26 pm

    Drugs, woman, drugs…

    Seriously, when my girls were little and they’d get out of their sleep patterns I’d dose them up with Benadryl for 2-3 nights.

    Worth a try!

  • Truthful Mommy

    2010/09/10 at 3:43 pm

    “She drew first blood” they always do!I have these nights with my 3 year old. ANd don’t try to take them out of town, they lose their ever loving minds. Last weekend,we were visiting the in laws. I get the full sized bed with the 3 year old, the 5 year old gets the toddler bed that HAS TO BE pushed up next to my side of the bed. My husband gets the other room and some sleep. Have I mentioned that he works out of town all week long, so I have to single mother it 5 days a week.BASTARD! Nice how that works out for him. After an hour of tears and tantruming by the 5 year old over a particular orange pillow that was forgotten at home, then every hour the 3 year old would wake up (overtired baby)thrashing, screaming, kicking. Finally, at around 4 am, I went to the other room..threw the door up like a crazed woman and yelled..COme and get your daughter before I throw her out of the fucking window. He came and got her. I’m pretty sure my in laws think I am completely insane. I went back to sleep..until 6 when they woke me up to ask if they could go get Grandma! it would have been too easy to just get up, go across the hall and let me sleep. No, I must have done something in another life to piss somebody off.They always draw first blood my friend!
    Happy Mothering.
    About Marlo, you better nip that in the ass quick..I have both girls in my bed and they are going no where.I’ve tried everything. My friend and her husband have BOTh of their girls 5 and 7 in their room…on a blow up mattress. It started with a rogue spider on a curtain one night…a few years ago.They are sticking. There is no danger of a third child…security has that covered:)LOL

  • Benny

    2010/09/10 at 3:49 pm

    Not that it will help with a sick baby, but my parents always said the way they kept us from sleeping with them is that they learned to snore.

  • murphyd25

    2010/09/10 at 4:04 pm

    Heather –

    In honor of this post, I can’t not pass this on! I was dying laughing: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html

    When I read it I thought of you and my best friend. So far my best friend confirms that we need to be friends with her.

  • sherylwx4

    2010/09/10 at 4:14 pm

    At this point I’d go with the previous commentor about trying the benedryl for 1 or 2 nights.
    IMHO, as a mom of4 small kids I can promise you that yours and her lack of sleep is only going to make everyone miserable and will take her longer to heal up from her cold.

  • MN Sukie

    2010/09/10 at 4:17 pm

    My youngest (9) still comes into our bed in the middle of the night. We have a queen size bed and have found that it holds two adults, a lab/rotti mix, a fat beagle and a 9 year old boy. Not comfortably, but we fit. I sleep through it all but my husband will sometimes go sleep in the empty bed.

    I remember the melt downs that first grade brought. The weight of the world was on my boys’ shoulders and EVERYONE was going to know about it. Second grade is better.

  • AshesVonDust

    2010/09/10 at 5:05 pm

    Hey, you don’t need to be able to sew to make that costume! White wifebeater (they make those in baby sizes, right? I have no idea) and a bandana tied around her head… And onto a pacifier, just super/hot glue a fake rubber Hallowe’en knife, so it’s like she’s holding it between her teeth… Add some dog tags and rub grey eyeshadow on her cheeks for 5 o’clock shadow… Good to go 😀

  • Crazy Card Lady

    2010/09/10 at 5:10 pm

    Wow Heather, for the first time ever reading your blog, I almost feel guilty laughing at what you wrote. I have 4 kids and nothing, nothing like that has ever happened to me. I guess my kids were in a sense boring as toddlers. Well, nothing worth writing in a blog about. They all waited until they got into college to cause me any real grief.

    Loved the advice where Santa gets involved. That is just awesome!

  • Brea

    2010/09/10 at 6:29 pm

    This loosely reminds me when I worked for a bank. People would always say, “Bankers hours! Three day weekends! You must love it!”

    There was some truth to that, but after each three day weekend, we paid for it dearly. It was almost not worth it.

    I thought of this when you described the mayhem you returned home to. While you got a well deserved rest, it takes awhile for the stars to align themselves again.

    Recently, my husband and I spent the night kid-free for our 20-year wedding anniversary. This was a rarity; we have no family close by. Our two kids spent the night at my best friend’s house. She and her husband are childless and when we came to pick up our kids, my friend pulled me aside and made the same comment that your mom did.

    Not having children, they thought it would be fun to stay up until midnight watching Harry Potter after eating fried twinkies at the fair, but not before the went swimming in the pool for two hours. My kids were ruined – totally exhausted, cranky and miserable for two days. It was almost not worth having the night off,

    Hope that you catch up on your sleep soon!

  • pipster

    2010/09/10 at 7:53 pm

    I have a plan, it’s not fool proof but my friend tried it on her 8 yr old who insisted on watching the CSI murder channel and subsequently had nightmares involving the various ways certain crims chopped up victims-go figure. So there are these weeny dolls called Worry Dolls made in Guatemala, they come in a wee bag of 5 dolls and you are meant to tell all your worries to them and sleep with them under your pillow and they keep the worries away. No Worry Dolls were available so we had to improvise and made a chain of paper Worry Dolls upon which the 8 yr old wrote (in secret) all her worries on and popped them under her pillow-worked a treat!!!!!

  • Absent Minded Housewife

    2010/09/10 at 8:28 pm

    I can sew baby Rambo. Imagine your little flower in a padded skintone chest shirt with some man worthy nipples and a couple wiry hairs, black wife beater, headband, and a bandolier. Yeah, I can make a baby sized bandolier. Smudge it all up. Throw in a bottle of fake blood. We could strap on a rubber knife and a walkie-talkie, sure!

    Unlike the prefab, you can actually wear the costume more than once without it’s fabric running like pantyhose! Because you’d want to hand it down to somebody or wear it out to the Gateway or something.

    This will be better than that baby bunting I made to look like a piece of bacon!

    I’m drooling a little…

  • lobsterandi

    2010/09/10 at 9:02 pm

    You could take a page out of the books of early Americans and infest Leta’s blanket with smallpox.

    That’ll learn her good!

  • NolaMomma

    2010/09/10 at 10:33 pm

    We don’t practice co-sleeping on a regular basis at our house, but if the little ones are going through a rough patch and a little closeness will help reassure them – we are all about piling everyone in the bed so we can all sleep. It usually only lasts for a couple nights and they are back in their rooms.

    I think the more you refuse to comfort them in the way they want, the harder they will push and I know from previous posts that your little ones will not back down.

    It’s worth a try, it certainly won’t take any sleep away from you, but could lead to a little. Good luck, sleep deprivation sucks and is the reason I will have no more than the three children I have. Well, one of the reasons.

  • rudy

    2010/09/11 at 5:56 am

    I sew like a demon, I’ll to make a rambo costume for you. Or for the mini-Rambo.

    Funny story, my little one year old was up last night screaming too, teething. I find that baby ibuprofen is super duper great.
    I wish I could dose him right now because he’s pulling on my shirt, crying, and eating kleenex he found in the bottom of the trash can, simultaneously, and yet he still can’t figure out how to not poop in his pants.


  • danagw

    2010/09/11 at 7:15 am

    I noticed someone here suggested Benadryl for Marlo to help you all sleep. I was also passed that lovely little nugget of advice before embarking on a long nighttime plane ride. Guess what? Lots of children (grownies too) have the OPPOSITE reaction to Benadryl and they are amped and irritable and it’s just plain awful.

    Our third child is 14 months old and just coming off a double ear-infection paired with teething and she was also having those same wake/scream cycles. It’s brutal. I really feel for you, Sis-tah.

  • LynnB

    2010/09/11 at 7:35 am

    I remember sleeping at the foot of my parent’s bed and my dad almost stepping on me in the morning. Just wait until Leta starts bringing her pillow with her to camp out.

  • loopymo

    2010/09/11 at 10:46 am

    Holy Cow, the unschoolers and homeschooling community would have a field day with all the comments about making kids sleep on the floor, chucking them out of your bed and drugging them up.
    The common theme I see here is that this seems to happen when they go off to school, that’s coz the whole school thing is SO wrong for our kids these days, that they WANT to be with their parents. Their little stress levels have gone UP, coz they are right, the system these days is a prison system, read Gatto, Weapons of Mass Instruction to see what they are going to go through fo the next 12 or more years. Say goodbye to your kids, you have already lost them.
    It’s even worse then the Mormon thing.

  • powellkristy

    2010/09/11 at 2:29 pm

    When I was little, I did the same thing: waking up scared in the middle of the night and wanting to go in to my parents’ room to sleep. Except my parents made the deal that I could not come IN their room. So I slept right outside the door. I would bring my pillow and blanket, and just sleep like leaning up against the door (they had it closed, but not locked). That way I felt safe (they were right there behind the closed door) but I didn’t disturbe them. Worth a try!

  • Shana in Texas

    2010/09/11 at 4:14 pm

    Ahh, MacGyver mama! I’ve been there MANY times. Getting a finally sleeping baby back in bed where an exhausted parent can also rest is similar to handling nitroglycerin and much more dangerous!

  • loving to learn

    2010/09/11 at 4:51 pm

    I wonder what is scaring Leta so much? I imagine she’s needing a lot of reassurance and support right now, that sometimes only a bed and a mama can provide. Which must be hard, because you guys sound BLASTED. The double whammy of scared girl and sore girl must be just crazy right now and I’ve totally been there.

    But I’ve got to wonder if taking the Hard Line might actually make the fear bigger for your not-so-big and not-so-invincible girl. It sounds like some scary stuff is going on for her (which mightn’t be so scary to us, but is real for her) and she needs to feel safe. I know we went through the same thing with my girl and it was hard, hard, hard.

    We had her sleeping with us for months, while we sorted some really big Stuff out. When we found the right path for her, she naturally moved out of our bed (with some encouragement from us, definitely!) and has slept in her bed happily since.

    The problem is usually the monsters in the day not the night, and talking about them in the day and reassuring her at night might be the best way to scare them away.

    Just my two cents. Or five!…:-)

  • Amber

    2010/09/12 at 12:34 am

    “Oops there goes gravity”

  • Bryony Boxer

    2010/09/12 at 8:58 pm

    The contrast between a child-free vacation and coming back to reality never ceases to amaze me.

  • Olivia Singleton

    2010/09/13 at 11:39 am

    My parents never let me sleep in bed with them at night. If I came into their room, my mom would take me to the bathroom and then lay down with me in my own bed. After a little while, she would leave and go back to her own bed for some quality sleep. For some reason, I still like the idea of that. I plan to do the same with my own children.

  • mycouchhascrumbs

    2010/09/13 at 7:58 pm

    I completely understand. My oldest is three, and he wakes up sometimes during the night and wants to sleep with us. If he seems really afraid and upset, maybe from a bad dream, we let him climb in the middle and snuggle. And although we are a little crowded, I dont mind so much. Because he is always so snuggly and SO adorable and sweet. Telling me he loves me, “dis is so cumfy mama.” and always wants to snuggle, and those snuggles are getting rare, considering he is a three year old boy who is constantly on the go during the day. 🙂 My youngest son is 16 months, and just last week he had such a cold that when exhaled he sounded like a truck with an exhaust problem. He woke up inconsolable, so after a few minutes of trying to calm him down i brought him to bed with us. He fell asleep on my chest for a few minutes, so I moved him to the middle. he was half asleep and moved over to his daddys pillow, and patted his back(made my heart melt!) and settled down. JUST as I was falling asleep, he shot up and exclaimed “oh woooow!” and started to try to climb our headboard that has shelves. I tried to get him to settle back down, but nope. Mama and daddy’s bed is for jumping! and playing! and yelling! so I gave him an extra pillow and put him back in his bed. and he went to sleep. for a while. yeah, those nights are rough, and my husband just sleeps and sleeps and sleeps! I see that this is super long, I’m done now, promise. 🙂

  • Laura B

    2010/09/13 at 9:29 pm

    We only had the screaming meanies when my son was teething. I had read that this pain was so severe, it was a damn good thing we’re too young to remember it later. I had a bottle of Tylenol #3 elixir left over from when my son had a hemangioma (ulcering painful vascular birthmark) on his lower lip.

    My son didn’t have to experience all the pain of teething, we only used the Tylenol#3 for the very worse episodes (not sleeping) and I can tell you that it’s wonderful to have that on the shelf and not need it. Teething really was a non-issue for us.

    Better living through chemistry.

  • hapi07

    2010/09/14 at 12:10 am

    Heather – you should try this nightlight/sound machine/ projector for the girls – one in each room!!! I swear they’re a LIFESAVER and it’s something that works for babies all the way up to kids… and even you and Jon maybe! It plays music or sounds (rain, heart beat or ocean) and the best part is that it comes with three little discs that project and rotate images on the wall! It puts them in a trance and they go right back to sleep. Only 20 bucks and it has a timer or you can just leave it on all night. I found this because I was so tired of replacing batteries on the crib attachment type things – this plugs in.


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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