the smell of my desperation has become a stench


I should probably be more embarrassed than I actually am to admit this, but we didn’t stop using a baby monitor with Leta until she was almost five years old. And even then we only stopped because her twin cousins had come over, spotted it next to her bed, picked it up and began shouting, “I’ll have a quarter-pounder with cheese! Don’t forget the fries!”

The receiver was sitting next to Jon’s side of the bed, and I think their drink order may have cracked his glasses.

Quick tangent, it’ll just take a second, I promise: one of her twin cousins, Noah, spent an entire Saturday at our house a few weeks ago because unlike the rest of his family he hates going to BYU football games. I may or may not have promised him free room and board if he applied and got accepted to BYU’s nemesis, The University of Utah, as it sits just up the street from our house. Also, when we die there is no heaven, we just rot in the earth while worms digest our intestines. Merry Christmas.

Toward the end of the day Jon and I were watching the news while Noah and Leta were doing some artwork at the bar in the kitchen. And then I noticed Leta had crawled under the bar and was counting and rocking back and forth like a mad woman. I turned to Jon and asked if he remembered where we had stored our emergency Zoloft.

“Leta,” I asked gently. “What are you doing under there?”

“Well…” she hesitated. “Noah said he needed a break and that I should sit under here and count to sixty, five times. So that’s what I’m doing.”

I looked at Noah and raised a fist in solidarity. “Well done, sir,” I said. “Well done.”

Yeah, so… about that baby monitor. We’ve been using one of those fancy video monitors with Marlo where you can hear and see what they’re doing in their crib. I once called it the Anti-Antidepressant because I would just sit there watching my child not sleeping.

Why on earth did I pay for something that allowed me to do this to myself? And then carry it with me everywhere, often holding it two inches from my face so that I could scream, “OH MY GOD ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

Once, she managed to grab the damn thing off of its ledge and tried for twenty minutes to stick the camera down her throat. When I finally walked in to wrench it from her hands she cackled at me. Oh really? That’s how you’re going to play it? Because I am not at all equipped with a witty comeback and can only hope that this evil streak in you will one day score us some great weed.

  • LauraSenecal

    2010/11/30 at 12:15 pm

    I’ve decided that I am going to use a baby monitor on my girls through their teen years. I think I’ll hide it under the bed or better yet.. in the mattress!! It would be best if I know the phone conversations right off the bat than sitting around wondering what on earth my daughter did last night at the dance.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/11/30 at 12:18 pm

    Definitely save that thing for their teen years!

    On second that, maybe it’s better for you and Jon if you don’t. That could get traumatizing.

    And I was totally that kid who yelled my order into anything resembling a drive-thru speaker.It never hurts to try!

  • ChickWhitt

    2010/11/30 at 12:18 pm

    I just have to wonder how many times the World Avon Sales Leader said, I hope you have a child JUST LIKE YOU SOMEDAY!

  • Amber_D

    2010/11/30 at 12:37 pm

    I hang my head in shame. I’m right there with you, Heather. I have a monitor still in my almost 4 year old’s room with no intention of removing it in the near future and a second monitor going in my 20 month old’s room. Sometimes in the middle of the night I frantically leap out of my bed like a ninja because I realize one of them has been turned off. Most nights I notice if they aren’t on though since my 4 year old likes to recite entire scripts from Batman Beyond cartoons including voices in lieu of counting sheep and periodically the little one likes to crawl out of her crib and unplug the receiver which causes thunderous white noise to tear through our bedroom. Once I peel myself off the ceiling I have to go upstairs, plug that sucker back in and put crazy back in the crib.

    THANK GOD, for modern conveniences.

  • rolandfox

    2010/11/30 at 12:43 pm

    My son chucked toys at the camera in his room until he broke it.

  • Ms. Pants

    2010/11/30 at 12:51 pm

    Probably comes as no surprise, but when I got to New York last week, all the news outlets were covering how those video monitors can be peeped by people on the street: Clickety. Now really, all that would do with Marlo is make them jealous of your cute baby, but still. 🙂

  • chasethefirefly

    2010/11/30 at 12:52 pm

    I have three kids in one room ages 8, 4, and 3. I have TWO monitors in that room. I have to cover all angles and I spy on them to find out who is keeping who up at night by doing “the booty dance” or some other such nonsense. I only wish that the cameras had a two way radio that I can shout into the room instead of running down the hall with my yardstick. I don’t hit anyone with it. I just wave it around and shout jibberish so they know I REALLY mean it. Then they laugh at me. *sigh*

  • specialkrispy

    2010/11/30 at 12:56 pm

    What kind of parent am I if I haven’t even gotten out the baby monitors I got for a shower gift and she’s 4 months old already? Does that put me on the same level as the going-to-rot-in-hell Ute fans?

  • eco

    2010/11/30 at 12:56 pm

    I have the camera like that with the infra-red capability, so that I can see what the munchkin is up to at night. She wakes up exhausted, having climbed every conceivable object in the room, taken out every toy, jumped on the bed like a trampoline. What’s hysterical is to hold the monitor outside her room and tell her to get down from something she *knows* I shouldn’t be able to see. The expression on her face is priceless. And so worth the therapy I’ll eventually have to pay for.

  • The Dalai Mama

    2010/11/30 at 1:07 pm

    I put the baby monitors away as soon as I could and not be judged (maybe too early). I do like the idea of using it when they are teens–but I figured by then, I’d just take all the doors off their rooms for a more “open” floor plan.

  • Issa

    2010/11/30 at 1:11 pm

    I will be completely honest here…I still have a monitor in my girls room. They are 6 and almost 9. I also have one in my son’s room. He’s only 2 though. I figure, I’d rather hear them coming, than be scared shitless with a child suddenly two centimeters from my face at 3am.

    It’s even funnier, since I am a horrible sleeper and always here them despite it. But I still have the dang things.

  • Kaff627

    2010/11/30 at 1:27 pm

    Um…J is 6 and I still use her monitor (voice only). I say it is because her room is at the other end of the house and I need to hear if she needs me. But really, if I can’t hear her breathing/snoring at night I go poke her still. Peace of mind for me. And she has forgotten about it. I would totally leave it for when she’s a teen but if she’s anything like my 18 y/o niece she’ll just text everything…

  • hoosiergirl1962

    2010/11/30 at 1:40 pm

    My money is on the really great weed….

  • rowdydog

    2010/11/30 at 2:32 pm

    I saw the segment on the Today show as well. People can sit on the street and hear and see everything going on. They know when you’ll be gone cuz they can listen to your phone calls and what not. You have to turn everything off when it’s not in use or it still transmits. However, the more expensive models have a digital lock on them. Creepy!

  • CrankyRobyn

    2010/11/30 at 2:39 pm

    I admit that I still have a monitor in the room of my 6 year old twins. I need it to know when someone is sleep walking. They’ve decided they need it so as not to exert themselves when they want to ask a completely non-emergency based question long after being tucked into bed. Why waste all that time coming downstairs when you know that you can holler out as if you are injured and Jeeves will appear to help you with pressing matters such as how to find topics in the index of a book or fetching an item dropped two feet away from your hand?

  • writtendad

    2010/11/30 at 3:18 pm

    A video monitor would have consumed my girlfriend. We only had a traditional monitor and if he coughed, turned, sighed, twitched, whatever, she would press her ear against it and ask is he okay? What did he do? Do you think he hurt himself? Will you go check on him? I know, it seems like a video monitor would have reduced this stress by answering several questions, but she would have been glued to it, analyzing in even more depth, questioning the quality of his REM cycles.

    I told her I would only agree to owning one if it allowed us to speak to him through a speaker in the screen. And disguised our voices to sound like satan. Then we’d have something to watch.

  • Laura Jones

    2010/11/30 at 3:24 pm

    Why don’t you set the Kinect up in her room? Then she can entertain herself. However, if she learns about the dogs diabolical plan she might begin to do some under the bar counting.

  • soowilliams38

    2010/11/30 at 5:10 pm

    you think that’s bad? i have to force myself to NOT stand in front of OTHER people’s baby monitors and freak out about what THEIR baby may or may not be doing. hey, i never said i wasn’t a sick sick woman. hee hee hee.

  • Twinkie

    2010/11/30 at 5:20 pm

    Dude. That is one busy baby.

  • paulam

    2010/11/30 at 5:46 pm

    THANK GOD they didn’t have those things when my kids were little. I’m raising 4 on my own: 19, 17, 14 and my youngest is 13. If I had to watch the carrying on after I shut the door at bedtime I would have had a nervous breakdown for sure. I always say that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Cell phones seem like a good “safety tool ” BUT- I’m giving you a heads up- nothing makes me crazier than when they won’t answer it!

  • Kats Mom

    2010/11/30 at 6:44 pm

    My gal just turned 9 and we still have the monitor in her room. She sleeps on the opposite side of the house from the family room (where we hang in the evening). If she calls for me, I don’t think we’d hear her if it weren’t for the monitor. So, it stays and I happily take the smart aleck remarks of my friends who notice it’s still around.

  • RitaB

    2010/11/30 at 9:02 pm

    Tsk. We don’t just ROT. We turn into fertilizer. It’s a very subtle and very important difference.

  • dpgrattan

    2010/11/30 at 10:02 pm

    Duuuuuuude, I hid the monitor under the bed, she’ll never know it’s there.
    I have one of the hell spawn too, and just wait until she starts to talk at you. When I enter the room she says “hi boobie”.

  • Binreddy

    2010/12/01 at 5:24 am

    OMG! The more I read about Marlo, the more I am convinced she is my daughter’s twin.
    Everything you have experienced with your precious Marlo, I have also gone through with my daughter. Albeit, minus the chipped tooth and misdiagnosis of Ringworm (she did have eczema though)
    As far as the baby monitor, at least you got it back. My baby managed to throw it out of the crib before I could get it out of her hands and it smashed beyond repair. When I got to the room, she was sitting up and laughing hysterically. NO JOKE! Maybe it was a cackle?
    All I know is that babies are down right DIABOLICAL!

  • marialoo

    2010/12/01 at 6:23 am

    Am I a bad mommy? Because I took down that monitor as soon as humanly possible! I’m selfish and I need to sleep, which I can’t do if I hear every little grunt and toss and turn my daughter makes in her sleep. Once I knew she would make a sound loud enough for me to hear if she really needed me, no monitor. Also, I can’t sleep in the same room with her. She’s in her room, door closed, down the hall from my room (door open).

  • apostate

    2010/12/01 at 9:40 am

    Ki Yi!

  • BuenoBabyGirl

    2010/12/01 at 11:25 am

    You all out there thinking a baby monitor might be a good idea for a teen’s room…I have a 12 year old and I really enjoy the break we get when she’s in her room. We don’t need to see or hear her during those respites from her eye rolling. However, we do randomly walk up to her her room and say things through the door like “Don’t put naked pictures of yourself on the Internet!” My God the next several years are going to be some much fun it’s going to HURT.

  • larissanoelle

    2010/12/01 at 12:50 pm

    I am so happy to hear that I am not the oly one turning into my mother, and scroll through the entire list of kids before I get the one I am speaking to! Oh and did I mention that I only have one toddler… so my husbands name enters into the equation when grasping for my sons name.

  • uvula_envy

    2010/12/01 at 12:51 pm

    I thought of you when I read this,

    Colorado is close to Utah. It could happen! Bobcat. Lion. All the same thing!

  • bellamaxjoy

    2010/12/01 at 1:38 pm

    I just watched a news program on NBC that showed how people can see into your house with those video baby monitors. The news man was driving up the street and was able to look into 4 different homes. You may want to check that out, it creeped me out.

  • simpliSAHM

    2010/12/01 at 2:17 pm

    Ironically my lastest post was about the conversation we heard over the monitor when our little guy was playing in his room with his big bro (Teenager).

    Funny thing is, we’d really never even considered taking it out (he’s 4); I guess we figure it’s in there, it’s all set up, we just keep using it to keep tabs on him. Plus the things we hear are often comedy gold.

    We had to laugh when the little guy asked us where the monitor was in his big brother’s room!

  • PrestonK

    2010/12/01 at 5:45 pm

    This is why I never used any kind of monitor – I would make myself and those around me nutz observing and analyzing my daughter’s every move like I was a cultural anthropologist. “I see she’s been picking her nose for the last five minutes with her left hand. I bet she’ll be good at math!” It would not be good.

  • soyy77

    2010/12/02 at 12:59 am

    I can’t wait until Marlo starts talking, to be honest. She’s gonna be fun!

  • melissan

    2010/12/02 at 7:15 am

    god I love this blog. I plan on using my monitor into the teenage years too 🙂

  • jsh

    2010/12/02 at 9:52 am

    Trying to eat a camera has got to be better than screaming which is the ONLY thing my daughter does in her crib besides sleeping. Sigh…

  • Cosmo3807

    2010/12/02 at 10:29 am

    Too bad Dooce confessed that weed makes her VERY paranoid in a way-back blog, so I don’t anticipate any great weed being shared in the new home many years from now. BUT, even scarier, who knows what recreational drugs might be around by the time Marlo is old enough to score? Sweet Dreams Heather & Jon! Mwah-ha-ha-ha!

  • jjford

    2010/12/02 at 1:10 pm

    Are the hippos upside down?

  • expectinghudson

    2010/12/02 at 3:43 pm

    Despite the fact that I live in a small-ish condo I carry around my baby-stalker (I mean, monitor!) everywhere I go when my little one is in his crib. I would say when he’s sleeping, but as you pointed out, he’s often playing with his fingers when he’s “supposed” to be sleeping.

    On average, moms lose 250 hours of sleep in the first year! and then how many hours do we lose watching our little ones lose sleep?

    Hudson is 11 months old and I’m sure I’ll be stalking him on his monitor for several more years to come.

  • KKW

    2010/12/02 at 8:30 pm

    I didn’t stop using it until eldest was 8. Mine has a little tv too! I’m hanging on to it, I am convinced there will come a time when it will be needed again.

  • larissanoelle

    2010/12/03 at 10:38 am

    Heather- Go skiing!! The snow is so awesome now, we are very lucky to live within a half hour of such great resorts.

  • pashari

    2010/12/05 at 6:58 pm

    Not that I want to be seen as a bearer of gloom and doom – but please be careful with those monitors and their cords. A little one was able to pull the monitor into her crib and she strangled herself on the cord. So, please, just keep them out of reach.–20572.html

    hugs –


    ps. I still have one and my girls are 7 and 4 (audio only).

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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