the smell of my desperation has become a stench


So, as things are wont to unfold in this life of mine, I returned home from California last week to a walking child. Marlo had been walking on and off in the days leading up to my vacation, but she would usually take a few steps and be all, SCREW THIS. And then she’d drop to the floor and crawl to her destination three times as fast. That’s math, y’all. Or is that laziness? Hmm. Don’t answer that.

And then the Saturday that I was away she suddenly decided to cross off that milestone in her life, and now it’s all walking all the time. And I wasn’t there. This is where the haters are all serves you right for taking a vacation, you self-entitled ho-bag. And this is where I’m all you mean WELL RESTED self-entitled ho-bag.

For those of you who weren’t reading a few years ago, Leta didn’t walk until she was almost two years old. And by then she was so interested in books that she never used her walking to engage in something dangerous. You guys, I can’t overstate the convenience of giving birth to a nerd. The danger only comes into play years later when they’re experimenting with potassium chlorate.

Marlo seeks out danger. Where is something she can climb on top of and then swan dive onto the floor? Is that a set of stairs over there? Because she’s thinking she could jump and clear at least six of them. And stop grabbing her arm to try and pull her away! Because watch! This shit is gonna be straight up insane!

I’ve had experience with these kinds of kids, but then I got in my car and I drove away.

Now I’m tasked with figuring out how the hell to deal with this, and the solution is pretty much this: don’t ever blink. Because in that second she’ll be on some ledge four feet in the air, the end of a power cord in her mouth and a smirk all over her face that says I can’t believe I have to deal with these amateurs.

  • austin_fan

    2010/09/29 at 7:19 am

    Welcome to the normal world! She is so awesome and I can not get over her eyes.

  • Window On The Prairie

    2010/09/29 at 7:21 am

    Sounds like all 7 of my nephews at that age. “Hmmmm….I can walk now….what kind of trouble can I get into when the adults aren’t looking?” is their motto. Enjoy!


  • Sheila

    2010/09/29 at 8:06 am

    It must be so hard to maneuver around that adorable big belly! (Not that I know this, or anything.) (Ahem.)

  • Olivia Singleton

    2010/09/29 at 7:28 am

    But she’s just so cute! That makes up for all of the swan dives. Granted I’m not the one trying to keep up with her.

  • knolting

    2010/09/29 at 7:29 am

    I love that she talked herself through the whole process ‘bobogoieeeeeeee’.

    Her little baby tummy is too much cuteness for me to handle.

  • jg2010

    2010/09/29 at 7:31 am

    Oooh, you’re in trouble. Don’t blink is right! and whatever you do, don’t go to the bathroom without her. I made the mistake of doing that when my son was 18 months and walked in to see him spraying the garden hose full blast into the kitchen.
    Bon chance as they say in France.

  • Missives From Suburbia

    2010/09/29 at 7:33 am

    Really? Did I just get all watery-eyed over someone else’s baby walking? Goodness, I have gone soft in my old age. Either that, or it was just a handful of months when my own daughter was at that very stage, and it goes more quickly than I could imagine. That’s my daughter–the child of mine voted “Most Likely to Visit the ER and Require Stitches”. Good luck with that.

  • Penelope

    2010/09/29 at 7:35 am

    You definitely got “your boy.” Just wait until she discovers how well the shower curtain rod helps her prepare for the circus!

  • labradoris

    2010/09/29 at 7:45 am

    What a cutie! =)

  • Ralemap

    2010/09/29 at 7:47 am

    Oh my! I love the sweet gentle music– made me giggle. All of my kids had a death wish from the ages of 1-2 and it took all of my energy to simply keep them alive… I don’t think parents get enough credit for that!

  • Anu

    2010/09/29 at 7:56 am

    Oh god she’s so cute! Just loved her talking all the way…through her stumble and all. Love her

  • Jayceekay

    2010/09/29 at 7:59 am

    Do you know who she sounds like to me? Her mom. The adventurous, fearless woman who birthed ‘Dooce’ and ran with it. No challenge too great to be conquered, don’t tell me I can’t do something, no chasm too wide to leap across–even if she falls short and has to wipe herself off and try again–Dooce. That’s who that little girl sounds like to me. Determination and guts are in that kid’s gene pool.

  • Amy J.

    2010/09/29 at 8:11 am

    As you know mine are now big…third grade and kindergarten and we’re dealing with a WHOLE NEW kind of “AAAAAAHHHHH” parenting situation over here (think nearly nine year old who thinks she’s 35…SO fun to go talk to a teacher and have them tell you “she’s her own type of person”) Yeah.

    So I’m mourning a certain amount of where Marlo is BIG time. In fact, I shed tears about how Sesame Street is now lame and that Halloween costumes are becoming harder to choose for my oldest.

    But then I read your column and am pulled harshly back to toddler falls down stairs and cat scans of bones and I’m all, “You know, I’m good. Ovaries, shut the hell up.”

    : )

    Hang in there mama…they’re still very flexible and this age. (though my two year old did break her collarbone falling two feet out of her crib)

  • Blahggy

    2010/09/29 at 8:11 am

    Wow! Crazy how different they are!

    I was a nerd and my parents were NOT, so when I’d come home from school and say, “Hey, going upstairs to do my homework,” they were all WHERE DID WE GET THIS KID? And I looked the part, too.

  • ChickWhitt

    2010/09/29 at 8:23 am

    Marlo should go on that Asian game show where the people are going through these crazy obstacle courses!

  • floridagal73

    2010/09/29 at 8:27 am

    So cute. I love the saggy pants look. And there is just nothing cuter than a little one who falls down in the middle of nowhere, like some ghost just pushed ’em down. Stay alert and enjoy her awesomeness.

  • wonderchris

    2010/09/29 at 8:32 am

    Those pants sagging, and the baby belly showing….she is too cute – mixed with just the right amount of hillbilly. Oh, Marlo you are just the best!! Congratulations on your new ability to torture your parents.

  • gewd

    2010/09/29 at 8:36 am


    You made a Doctor Who reference and did you even know it? Enjoy the chaos while you can! 🙂

  • genevieve

    2010/09/29 at 8:42 am

    My first kid is also a nerd. And my second kid (who was born one week after Marlo) is a wild thing too. After doing the whole I can walk but I won’t thing, he is now upright about 1/2 the time walking around like a little old drunken man. He and Marlo should hang out and work on chipping more teeth together. Something tells me they’d be one hell of a pair.

  • lolab9442

    2010/09/29 at 8:42 am

    I’ve got 2 boys. The first born was building jumps and jumping his bike when he still had training wheels on. The second born had a very calm personality so I figured I had lucked out the second time around, but he was riding a 2 wheeler by the time he was 3. Following his brother! Good luck with Marlo! Don’t blink! because it will only end you up in the emergency room!

  • magwilky

    2010/09/29 at 8:48 am

    This is too funny to me because my girls are very similar to yours. My second is totally the daredevil/independent spirit. Broken collarbone at age 2 from walking in front of a swing, crawled into the pool and sunk to the bottom at about 1.5, she has given me many heart attacks, but here we are, she is almost 5 and still going strong. The independent spirit part is becoming more of an issue because now she thinks she can just walk out the door down to the neighbor’s without telling anyone, or eat cookies 20 minutes before dinner or get up from the dinner table any time she pleases, etc. She is very entertaining, I have to give her that and I am sure Marlo keeps you in stitches too (when you’re not pulling your hair out, that is)

  • duffylou

    2010/09/29 at 8:52 am

    What a trip down memory lane. I smiled from ear to ear watching your video. Each of my three kids had their own plan when they were going to start the milestones. I just let them be and they handled it just fine. Well, I did freak when son number two wasn’t talking as fast as son number one. But then I found out that was because son #1 was doing all the talking! Love that she calls herself Bobo.

  • confusedkaty

    2010/09/29 at 8:53 am

    Is she saying “NO, COCO, DAMMIT COCO!” in BoBo speak? Too cute.

  • Truthful Mommy

    2010/09/29 at 8:58 am

    Congratulations on Marlo walking! Shame on anyone who tells you that’s what you get. WOuld they feel that way about any other working parent who missed a milestone? I think not.Don’t let them get you down.It’s not like you knew she was going to walk and said, “Oh she’ll probably walk this week..I’m out!”

    My second one is the same way. She is 3 already but we have definitely had hell on wheels since she could walk!

    My first was so sweet and demure and listens to everything we ever tell her to do. We had the baby gates and such but we never needed them. With the second, this kid pops the safety locks off the closet.You know how? By repeatedly pulling really hard. Yeah, the manufacturers really underestimated my girl. Happy Mothering to your own hell on wheels in taffeta and a pink helmet !

  • TexasKatie

    2010/09/29 at 9:10 am

    Yay, Marlo!

  • chop847

    2010/09/29 at 9:13 am

    Very cute… but why is it babies walk like little monkeys? And why did we stop, I think it would be interesting to walk around like that. Maybe I could learn to use my cell phone with my feet and save some time during the day!

  • CrisLawson

    2010/09/29 at 9:15 am

    She’s going to be on the kitchen counter soon, I can feel it. “what are you DOING, Marlo?” “Coooookieeee!” As you try and catch her on your way across the room and she stumbles backwards and stops your heart. I do not envy you.

  • AprilD

    2010/09/29 at 9:28 am

    As the mother of a 13-month old boy who’s been full-on walking since he was 10 MONTHS OLD, I feel your pain!!
    My son also seeks out danger and I’ve learned not to blink for fear in that millisecond he learns how to unlock and open the front door and ends up heading towards the traffic in front of the house.
    By the way, those sagging pants and little bird legs topped by the big belly = too cute for words!

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/09/29 at 9:29 am

    Oh my god, I love the belly. Too funny! And those skinny little legs she got from her mama.

  • Anndruh

    2010/09/29 at 9:41 am

    As the first-time mother of a 6 month old, who at this very moment is swaying violently from side to side up on his hands and knees, squawking and trying desperately trying to get them to move in sync so he can crawl for the first time, I am totally looking forward to this.

    Until the first trip to Urgent Care. After that I’m sure I won’t be so jazzed.

  • carawahlgren

    2010/09/29 at 9:44 am

    Jesus those pants don’t EVEN fit her. Give it up! Give those pants up! It’s time.

  • jenmata

    2010/09/29 at 9:46 am

    Look at her go, awesome! My parents also went on a vacation and left my sister and I with my grandparents, and came back to see me taking my first strolls. I got over it and forgave them. She will forgive you too 😉

  • Crazy Card Lady

    2010/09/29 at 10:22 am

    Marlo was walking like she had a full load in her diaper. Funny!!!

  • Crazy Card Lady

    2010/09/29 at 10:24 am

    Marlo was walking like she had a full load in her diaper. Funny!!!

  • TxSuzyQ

    2010/09/29 at 10:39 am

    What I can’t get over is how willing she is to touch mud! I remember a story about a vacation to the beach where poor little Leta hated touching the sand and here this kid is willingly digging at MUD in the back yard and walking away as if its no big deal.

    LOL Its so weird how two kids with the same parents, same genes, etc, can be so different. Both wonderful, just different.


    MARLO: Lalala Hey whats this? Eh… just a little mud. Whatever.

  • TxSuzyQ

    2010/09/29 at 10:46 am

    Btw, at 0:29 did she fart and fall down? LOL

  • Gulliver1

    2010/09/29 at 11:19 am

    I love this kid!!!

  • EOMama

    2010/09/29 at 11:20 am

    Yeah, you’re totally screwed. I still black out for a second when I see videos like this because it brings back horrible, horrible memories of chasing my twins around. Yes, I wrote “twins”. Put *that* in your pipe and smoke it! Only good thing about that part of my life was that I was reeeeeally skinny. No time to eat when you’re keeping toddler twins alive! WHEEEEEE!!!!

  • nadaliem

    2010/09/29 at 11:22 am

    Marlo’s eyes are absolutely stunning, what a gorgeous little sweetie! Congratulations on her steps! And that bulky diaper with her little leggings is too cute!

  • jilllovesbacon

    2010/09/29 at 11:24 am

    I SO want to zerbert that belly.

  • adamsrice

    2010/09/29 at 11:28 am

    I kid you not, my 14 month old has already figured out how to work the rules. For example, “Don’t touch the computer” means climb on top of the coffee table and look at the laptop very very close. KIDS!

    I feel for you, sounds like yours is going to be like mine, meaning, you might want to move all sofa’s away from any windows because she will be standing in them in no time flat.

  • Granny Tammy

    2010/09/29 at 11:57 am

    Oh the Achievements she will have! Those are the ones who win ski championships! Advice though from personal experience: Ipecac on the shelf, a range of emergency rooms so you can rotate, stay calm with the policeman who is accusing you of being the world’s worst mother when she climbs out of her car seat and puts the car in gear, a very good pediatrician who sees them regularly who can vouch for you when social services shows up. My wild child is 28 years old and still finding places to climb higher!

  • ORKMommy

    2010/09/29 at 11:58 am

    You should just post soundbites of her babbling. I could listen to her for days!!!

  • freckledmama

    2010/09/29 at 12:19 pm

    Exercise weights on her ankles ought to slow her down. That or a harness with the leach bolted to the middle of the floor offering her a limited range of mayhem.

  • VickiG.

    2010/09/29 at 12:20 pm

    The beauty and simplicity of this moment brings tears to my eyes.

  • Kristabell

    2010/09/29 at 12:20 pm

    You guys do the music background to video/pic mix so perfectly. It just makes me choke up. I’m totally failing my child in this area. . .

  • bubbytoots

    2010/09/29 at 12:23 pm

    When my first son was young his caregiver asked me if I wanted to be told about his first moments while in her care. My heart sank realizing that I would not necessarily see all of his actual firsts. She could see that on my face and added, just remember the first time you see it, IS the first time! I’ll never forget those words. Don’t feel guilty.

  • WashingtonMama

    2010/09/29 at 12:28 pm

    My oldest is like this. In the 30 seconds I wasn’t watching him he almost threw himself off of a ferry boat in Seattle as a 2 year old. He found the one little place where the railing overlapped and was just big enough to squeeze through. I still get sick to my stomach when I think about that incident. Now I figure if I can keep him alive until he is 18 then I have been a successful parent. Some days I have my doubts.

  • missusclark

    2010/09/29 at 12:54 pm

    Heather, m’dear. Stock up on bourbon, bandaids, and cute ice packs, ’cause you’re gonna need ’em. Oh, and keep all the knives WAY out of reach. Knife-wielding toddler = instant nervous breakdown. (do not ask how I know this….)

    My twin girls, now 5, are climbers. At about a year, they climbed out of their own cribs and into each other’s at “nap time” and then howled when they couldn’t get back to their own beds. Now, they try to climb trees by stacking wheeled toys on top of one another and using plugged-in extension cords as rope.

    90% of your job is keepin’ them alive, I always say.

    Best of luck and always keep your meds current!

  • megrit411

    2010/09/29 at 12:33 pm

    Oh my goodness look at her go! Look out with that one. Leta’s going to build the rocketships and Marlo will fly them away. Too cute! Here’s to some more gray hairs for you and Jon.

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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