the smell of my desperation has become a stench


Marlo woke up at 6 AM on Saturday morning and, having grown suction cups on every limb overnight, attached herself to my body for the next seven hours. I had to be holding her or actively interacting with her every single second. I dated four guys in Los Angeles who acted exactly like that, except in this case I can’t just stop returning her calls.

I may have lost it mid-morning and told her I wanted to break up.

We’ve raised both girls under very similar circumstances if you don’t count the year Leta spent locked in cage at the bottom of a swamp (she had to learn to swim SOMEHOW). And yet, Leta looks forward to spending time alone. In fact, I saw her only twice Saturday morning: at breakfast and then three hours later when she realized she had yet to roll her eyes at me.

When Leta was two she liked having us in the room, but she most certainly did not want us all up in her stuff. Whereas, Marlo wants to paint us with her stuff. Here are her two stuffed kitties, HOLD THEM. Her puppy, HOLD IT. Her blankie, HOOOOOLD. And if you let any of it go the screws holding her brain together fall out and their tiny clink, clank against the wooden floor is our signal to protect our head from shrapnel.

I spent hours “coduring pitchers” with her, and then we moved on to making shit. That’s right. Shit. What the rest of you guys refer to as crafts. I know. I was a Mormon. When you’re born into the faith they pluck you from your mother’s arms within seconds of exiting her canal and hook you up to an IV of pipe cleaners, yarn and googly eyes. How could I possibly not love crafts? No way I’m getting my own planet with this attitude.

She likes to cut and glue construction paper. So we didn’t really make anything but a huge mess. That’s not the point. WE WERE MAKING. And I kept repeating this mantra in my head: This is fun. This is fun. This is— OH MY GOD GET THE GLUE STICK OUT OF YOUR EAR FOR CHRISSAKE.

These moments with her are fleeting, you do not have to tell me this. But I’m not going to sit here and lie and say that when she finally wanted to watch something on TV that I mourned getting up from that sticky, debris filled table and reluctantly gave in to that request. Nope. I clapped my damn hands, took a loving, sepia-toned snapshot in my brain of the previous hour and then performed a rather artful swan dive thirty feet across the room onto the couch.

Where I immediately assumed the fetal position.

  • TropicalPopsicle

    2011/12/19 at 2:16 pm

    Oh boy…I’m 8 weeks away from my due date with my first and I constantly wonder what her personality will be. Will she be chill and like to be left alone like me, or will she be everywhere at once and into everything like her dad? I kind of hope she’s a bit more like Leta. (But without the screaming, remember that?)

  • kidsmom

    2011/12/19 at 2:44 pm

    Try this:

    “I’m sorry, Mommy can’t do this any more because her hands are tired.”


    “I’m sorry, Mommy can’t listen any more because her ears are tired.”


  • mommica

    2011/12/19 at 3:27 pm

    I’m right there with you sister. Except mine is almost four and wants to play pretend we’re bears and I’m the mommy bear and she’s the baby bear; or pretend we’re queens and I’m the mean queen and she’s the nice queen; or pretend she’s a kitty, but a talking kitty. Lovely, and I’ll remember it forever. NOW PLEASE STOP!

  • LinKelley

    2011/12/19 at 3:30 pm

    My son’s kindergarten teacher used to say, “The years fly by but the afternoons are endless.” Amen

  • BuenoBabyGirl

    2011/12/19 at 3:34 pm

    Mine likes to play house until I beg for mercy. And it goes something like this: “O.K. mommy, YOU be the mommy and I’LL be the kid.”

    How fun is that?

  • ladygray

    2011/12/19 at 3:39 pm

    it appears Marlo is a kindred spirit to my 2 year old son… only trouble is, there is an 8 month old son involved as well who literally NEEDS me to cart him place to place. the 2 year old has started saying “put brother down over there.”

    the good news is? the 8 month old is extremely chill. the bad news is? the 8 month old occasionally gets ignored while I tap dance blindfolded backwards on my hands entertaining the 2 year old.

  • sabina

    2011/12/19 at 3:41 pm

    Love what LinKelly said.

    I try to remind myself that one day my daughter will be firing away on her iPhone or laptop or internal mind chip (by that time) while I’m sitting there drooling telling her some tedious story (for the twentieth time) about how the ’80s were the best years ever!!! while she desperately wishes she was doing something else.

    My dad, a master of child-rearing, once told me that participation doesn’t count as much as physical proximity. He just plops down on the floor next to my daughter with a newspaper and utters the occasional, hmmm mmm, really?, and then what did the frog say? I’ve tried this and works a surprising amount of the time.

  • juliemewood

    2011/12/19 at 4:18 pm

    How has no one said anything about the creepy looking guy behind Marlo?

  • dooce

    2011/12/19 at 4:35 pm

    @juliemewood that’s my stepfather.

  • TheSkyIsOverrated

    2011/12/19 at 5:42 pm

    You know what juliemewood really meant to say was tremendously handsome and adoring guy behind Marlo… right? Yeah. I’m pretty sure that’s what she meant to say.

  • kristanhoffman

    2011/12/19 at 7:15 pm

    LOL to the whole juliemewood “thread.”

    And to LinKelley’s comment.

    You know, as an only child and the daughter of small business owners, I was pretty much left to fend for myself (in terms of entertainment, not food or shelter or anything). I think I turned out okay.

  • SparkleP

    2011/12/19 at 7:21 pm

    Arts and Crafts slowly suck the soul from my mortal being. Try the Alex craft kits – at least then you don’t have to cut shit out and it comes with all the pieces together. We like the bug plates one and the paper bag puppets.

  • theotherlion

    2011/12/19 at 7:21 pm

    I will totally come be your body double. I love gluing shit to other shit. That being said, I get tiring easily of something you are supposed to cherish forever because they are only young once. Ya, sometimes momma wants a nap.

    Also, does Marlo have a Crayola Glow Board? Because I think she might need one. Really super awesome.

  • waitimaprincess

    2011/12/19 at 7:53 pm

    All praise be to YouTube and its incessant ability to entertain my toddler. TV brain and all that, whatever “they” say about no TV, it turns brains to mush WHATEVER. Screw the judgers who say aw Heather, cherish that time, your darling preshus angel is only this age once. I positively treasure each of my children. But sometimes…just sometimes…hold cup mommy. Hold cup mommy. Hold it. Drink, mommy. Driiiiiiiiink iiiiiiiiiiiiit! Apple? Apple mommy. Get apple. Get it. Get it. Get it. Cudder. Cudder mommy. No blue! Purpo. You purpo mommy. And. I. Touch. The. Red. KABLOOM! It’s raining crayons and feet are being kicked at the travesty of my idiocy. Sometimes I want crying to be my fucking failsafe too.

  • farmreport

    2011/12/19 at 8:00 pm

    Every time I read about Marlo I think, “Huh. That sounds really familiar.” And then I get distracted by scenes like these: That’s deja vu at age seven, at about 7:03am. (Before I took the photo I told her to come down from the top rung or someone was going to call CPS.)

    And those crafts? They turn into full-on PROJECTS, and you are the unpaid intern.

  • big dog momma

    2011/12/19 at 8:17 pm

    Crafts? At such a young age? Why, Heather! I think you’ve got a BYU alum in the making!!!

    ::ducks to avoid flying objects::

  • Monkey

    2011/12/19 at 8:35 pm

    My oldest was always independent. I see him less the closer he approaches his teen years. He’s always at a friend’s house or on his laptop. We had an ongoing thing: “Hello son I never see” “Hello mom I never see”.
    My youngest, although he’s starting to spend more time at friend’s houses, still likes to “hang out” with us CONSTANTLY. My husband and I can’t have a date night without it being an issue. Hell, even on our nightly walks, it’s an issue getting out of the house without tears and promises that we’ll be right back.
    Weird how that ended up.

  • gretchie

    2011/12/20 at 5:00 am

    You know, it’s weird enough that Marlo looks like a doppelganger of my daughter (my girl turns 7 next month), but you are describing her personality to a T. I don’t think I have any advice for you, really, except to say that people who complain about letting the TV babysit your child, didn’t have a model like this one. Also, thank God for paper and crayons. She makes endless pictures while watching Witches of Waverly Place or Good Luck Charlie. When she was smaller, I also kept those “paint with water” books stashed away for especially frustrating moments.

    She also likes to write, so maybe she’ll be some sort of hackneyed blogger one day.

    Her fingernails haven’t been consistently clean since she was two and every day she came home from daycare I had to shake mounds of mulch from her shoes, pockets and jackets. I seriously would love to get them together for a play-date.

    Get ready. She’s probably going to get in “trouble” more often at school than Leta ever did. And she may announce her intent to marry some snotty kid when she’s three. Hurray…

  • Laura Jones

    2011/12/20 at 5:53 am

    Mine would deliver play food and I would have to “eat” it but not like that Mommy, like this. Steak and ice cream were on the same plate as as whole salt shaker.

  • magwilky

    2011/12/20 at 6:43 am

    I have a barnacle too and she is now 6, so it is not so cute anymore. I always tell people, “If you value your personal space, do not have children” (Also, if you like to drink your beverages without someone else’s backwash in them, do not have children, but that is another topic)

  • KathyB

    2011/12/20 at 7:23 am

    Good picture. Eventually she won’t want to be a growth on your body any more. But she will always be Marlo. I see sports in hr future. Perpetual motion kids drive their parents to get them into sports to gain spans of time without playing ringmaster for the circus at home.

    But it comes, you know, after toddler stage.

  • booner32

    2011/12/20 at 7:47 am

    LOL! Great post. Maci loves crafts too and Tiff is always feeling guilty about hating them. Not me, crafts suck and I feel no shame admitting that.

  • suzified

    2011/12/20 at 8:06 am

    Ha. Reminds me of the the “Dogpound” ep of Louie. “The hardest part of having kids is just the days that you spend with them.” I, too, have a barnacle.

  • jenwilson

    2011/12/20 at 8:56 am

    So glad I’m not the only one.

  • Angel Girl

    2011/12/20 at 10:10 am

    When you’re in the midst of those years, they feel like they will never end.
    Twenty years later, you would sell your soul to go back.

  • jesterqueen

    2011/12/20 at 1:44 pm

    Oh Jesus thank you somebody else who hates kidart. I loathe the shit my children put on my fridge. I have to remember that I had no idea I was making shit back in my day in order to keep from pointing it out to them. OK, it isn’t really THAT bad. But seriously. This isn’t something I’m going to miss. Reading with them? I’ll be heartsick when it’s gone. Snuggling on the couch? Ditto. But not the making.

    Well. I gotta go. We’re scheduled to paint fucking plaster ornaments at 3. And you know what would happen if I were late.

  • Heather too

    2011/12/20 at 4:44 pm

    I know what you mean. If you feel like I did about playing dolls, I recommend you IMMEDIATELY never buy any Barbies or dolls that require playing dress up with the dolls, having conversations, etc. I hated dolls as a child, and hated it when my daughter wanted to play with her Barbies with me. I love her dearly, but every second was a total agony. I feel your pain.

  • ClaireinAustin

    2011/12/21 at 6:30 am

    You crack me up.
    I felt the same way about little kid birthday parties. torture!

  • Heidi D-M

    2011/12/21 at 6:07 pm

    I lurve you so much, but your new font (although styley in letterage) has horrible commas. They looook liiiike peeeeeriods. Bleargh.

    Keep on truckin’ Sugar Bear.

  • H_Isaac

    2011/12/22 at 9:10 am

    Heather you are hilarious! I love your biting sarcasm and your writing style. I have a blog that I started writing when I found out I was pregnant and mostly its sole purpose is for my son to read when he’s older. It’s not quite as hilarious as yours though–it’s got more of a dramatic feel to it seeing as I started my single motherhood on such a difficult note.

    I just wanted to say that I wish you more power in your blogwriting and more success in life, love, and health 🙂 Looking forward to more of your posts!

    H xx

  • HI-D

    2011/12/22 at 10:22 am

    I’m so glad that someone else out there has a “barnacle” girl too! I thought that I was the only one.

  • sarahfromthenorth

    2011/12/22 at 4:29 pm

    I don’t know if it’s the two glasses of Pinot Grigio I just polished off but that post was one of the funniest posts you have ever written. This one definately goes in the book of top 50 posts that you’ve yet to publish; I think it’s right up there with the rather bald chicken reference. It sums up EXACTLY what motherhood to toddlers is like – just perfectly! You’re on your groove Heather!

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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