the smell of my desperation has become a stench

When goodnight hugs go horribly wrong

Saturday night before Leta headed up to bed I asked her to come give me a hug. I was walking toward her to meet her halfway, and right when I leaned down she jumped up, accidentally headbutting me and busting my lower lip open. Blood immediately started gushing, and according to Leta’s reaction I was about to die.

I can see the reaction to the obituary now: her mother was a mommyblogger, you know, so who knows if it was an accident!

She was hysterical, inconsolable. I ran to the bathroom to plug the bleeding while Jon grabbed an ice cube. Leta sobbed during these frenzied moments, and so once I had regained the tiniest bit of feeling in my lip I knelt down, the ice cube pressed firmly to my mouth, and said, “Snoh yeh sahl! Snoh yeh sahl”

WHAT?!” she screamed, as if I weren’t making any sense.

“SNAH YEH SAHL. SEE?” I explained, and then I repeated the motion I had made when I tried to lean down to hug her. “SNIH MAH SAHL!”

“You’re creeping me out!” she said. She had to have picked this up at school because this is not a phrase used in our household. Not that we morally object to this phrase. It’s just if we were trying to convey this feeling we’d probably go with, “You’re being really effing weird.”

First time she used it we were coming out of her piano lesson and headed toward the car. I was walking slowly on the sidewalk trying to finish putting her next appointment on the calendar on my phone when she goes, “MOM! You’re really creeping me out right now!”

What?” I asked.

“You’re, like, walking all crazy. Like a horror movie.”

I wish I had free time like that. To have an opinion about the way my mother walks. Next time she complains about being bored I’ll just walk around the room and ask for an editorial.

SNAH YEH SAHL was supposed to come out of my mouth sounding like NOT YOUR FAULT. But, busted lip plus ice cube equals a whole new language. So not only did she think I was going to die, but I was also creeping her out with my mad language skills. So I nodded to Jon and then back to her to indicate that he should translate.

“It’s not your fault, Leta,” he explained. “Mom is going to be fine.”

“Okay,” Leta said hesitantly. “I’m really sorry. Really, really sorry.”

I could tell she felt horrible, so I continued to try to comfort her. “Sine. Sine! HO HORRIES! SEE?” And then I pulled the ice away to show her that the gash wasn’t life threatening. Except I guess it looked a lot worse than I imagined. And she started hyperventilating again.

You know how we joke about the fact that there’s no manual for parenthood, and sometimes we have to just feel our way along this journey? I can guarantee you that if such a manual existed, it wouldn’t address about 98% of the shit we encounter with our children.

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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