the smell of my desperation has become a stench

This is what is wrong with mommyblogging

Marlo’s preschool requires parents to volunteer a few hours here and there each semester, and I realized before the holiday that I had yet to meet that obligation. I asked her teacher to put me to use wherever they might need me unless it involved interacting with three-year-olds. You ever met one? Horrible people. Little deranged convicts.


But I guess volunteering in a classroom full of three-year-olds means acknowledging their existence? Because they can’t read social cues like LEAVE ME ALONE or PLEASE STOP MAKING WORDS WITH YOUR MOUTH. So demanding.

I was thinking I’d get to rinse out some paint brushes or wipe down some tables, but no. No such luck. In fact, I got to volunteer the day that the kids were finishing up an elaborate craft project, and you know how I feel about craft projects. Wheeeee! Hey kids! After we mold these pipe cleaners into fun shapes let’s pour a cauldron of bubbling lava over our heads! And then hack off all our limbs with a dull pocket knife! Here, I’ll go first.

The portion of the craft project requiring my assistance involved gluing glitter to a holiday ornament, and yeah. You saw those two words in there, didn’t you. GLUE and GLITTER. The two most evil crafting supplies in existence. Is there anything more horrifying to hand to a three-year-old? They’d do less damage with a can of mace.

And here’s where I go off on what will seem like a tangent but is in fact crucial to all this complaining you’re enduring: somehow Marlo up and potty trained herself a few months ago. Just decided one day that she didn’t like walking around with excrement in her pants. THERE. There’s one thing nice I can say about three-year-olds! They have enough brain cells to recognize the discomfort of sitting around in their own feces.

The road to her decision was a little bumpy, but show me a road to diaper-independence that’s not. The major obstacle in her way was not an uncommon one. Kids that age have one painful bowel movement and decide that they’re never going to poop again leading to horrifying constipation. So horrifying, in fact, that many of us, NOT JUST THAT MONSTER HEATHER ARMSTRONG, have to administer enemas.

Oh fuck, you guys. I’m writing about enemas on the Internet again. And here you are reading it. You are aiding and abetting an Internet enema writer. Shame on you.

So, yeah. I had to give Marlo a few enemas along the way because she’d go, nine? Ten days? Ten days without pooping. You go right ahead and try that. Five days in and you’d be begging me to write about the fact that I went out and bought you an enema.

I’d always try to make it as low-key as possible (despite what you’ve heard, enemas are not a party), so I’d remain calm and tell her it was time for butt medicine. Yeah. Butt medicine. What? You don’t think that’s cute? Because that is cuter than a polar bear snuggling a pug. It’s cuter than a newborn puppy taking a nap and having its own fart startle it awake.

Butt medicine got her through the fear of bowel movements, and then suddenly she was potty trained. Thank god for the person who invented enemas if only because I no longer have to carry diapers and wipes in my purse. MORE ROOM FOR MY WEED.

Jump to the craft project in her preschool class. She and a few of the other kids were sitting around a low table with me, all of them dressed in plastic aprons, all giddy with the idea of destroying the planet with glitter. Her teacher had prepared a tray with bottles of glue and bowls of glitter and was approaching the table with this tray when Marlo’s face contorted with panic. I looked back at the teacher, and before she took another step I put the whole thing together in my head: the tops of the glue bottles had been removed (probably because they get clogged so easily? I think I remember this from my childhood?) and in their place she had stuck a paintbrush. Little white glue bottles with the wooden handle of a paintbrush sticking out of them. Marlo’s vision did that crazy Good Fellas camera trick where the foreground gets closer as the background recedes because, you know, imminent death.

Before I could do anything she screamed, “BUTT MEDICINE!!!!

She sure did. Loud enough and with such dread that I’m pretty sure you couldn’t have mistaken it for, “But, medicine?”

The teacher shook her head as if she didn’t hear her correctly, and Marlo continued hysterically, “I DON’T WANT BUTT MEDICINE! I DON’T WANT BUTT MEDICINE! NO. BUTT. MEDICINE.

I very quickly explained to Marlo that it was glue for the glitter and not butt medicine, nope, not butt medicine at all, not one bit. And then I gave a huge smile to the teacher who had raised one of her eyebrows.

“Yeah, it’s a long story,” I said. “But I assure you. Totally legal.”

  • me

    2013/01/08 at 3:17 pm

    HOLY CRAP (no pun intended) ….

  • Kristin Preston

    2013/01/08 at 3:17 pm

    No, this is what’s RIGHT with mommyblogging. Hysterical!

  • Jona

    2013/01/08 at 3:27 pm

    Love how crafting and enemas just came together perfectly in this post. I will never look at a glue bottle the same again…

  • ShoppingandInfo

    2013/01/08 at 3:30 pm

    hah – love it – too classic

  • Sarah M

    2013/01/08 at 3:32 pm

    Hahahahahaa. Nice.

  • Deanna Schober

    2013/01/08 at 3:33 pm

    You’ve instilled a healthy fear of crafting! I think your job here is done.

  • Kimberly

    2013/01/08 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks for the chuckle!

  • Jane Blackmore

    2013/01/08 at 3:41 pm

    Love this! craft and backside antics all in one post! marvellous

  • TheAbsentMindedHousewife

    2013/01/08 at 3:41 pm

    Whut whut?

  • Kim's Kitchen Sink

    2013/01/08 at 3:42 pm

    Well now this story just about made my entire week.

  • Kristan

    2013/01/08 at 3:43 pm

    ROFL. Oh Marlo… The best part is, she’s gonna LOVE this story when she gets older.

    (Also, the newborn puppy startling itself awake with its own fart is legit cute.)

  • Sarah

    2013/01/08 at 3:48 pm

    I’m glad that this post didn’t end with her ingesting glitter and needing butt medicine. Because that’s where I thought it was going…

  • Sybil Katona

    2013/01/08 at 4:05 pm

    Glitter is the herpes of the craft world — once you’ve been exposed, you will NEVER be rid of it!!

  • Jenn Lee

    2013/01/08 at 4:06 pm

    My kid did a drawing for her preschool “Year book.” It was entitled, “The Day Mommy Put a Rocket Up My Butt.” The nice preschool teachers typed the title for everyone to clearly read.

  • Carrie Piatkowski

    2013/01/08 at 4:20 pm


  • Diana Prichard

    2013/01/08 at 4:20 pm

    Somehow I managed to raise two children through toddlerhood with not one enema and to this day I am afraid of what evil karma will come up with to get even. The one time I *thought* I was going to have to give one of them an enema she had shit by the time The Man got home with it. Luckiest day of my life.

  • Jen

    2013/01/08 at 4:26 pm

    I had Butt bags. Plasic underpants that you had to wear to bed so when you wet the bed, your Mom didn’t have to wash the sheets. My Dad called them butt bags. Once, while visiting our cousins, Dad said something about butt bags and I remember my cousin spitting his milk across the table.
    Yes, I wet the bed well into the time where I can remember this incident. Don’t judge me.

  • Karen

    2013/01/08 at 4:34 pm

    We solved this problem by giving a suppository. A Butt Bullet, as it were. (ba-dum-dum)

  • Josey

    2013/01/08 at 4:38 pm

    LMFAO. Oh man, I love your writing so much. You crack me up, Heather. 🙂

  • Kacey

    2013/01/08 at 4:39 pm

    Yeah, I don’t understand this at all. Enemas seem pretty darned tortuous & traumatic for a little kid and I can’t see that this is “common” at all. I don’t know one single person who “had” to give their kid an enema and it was certainly never needed for my son.

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/01/08 at 4:42 pm

    We tried suppositories several times and they never worked. Not once.

  • Jenn

    2013/01/08 at 4:42 pm

    Having an autistic son who sometimes holds his bowel movements due to sensory issues/fear of discomfort, ’round these parts we have two fully-stocked-with-BUTT-MEDICINE-cabinets. I’ve also been known to carry baby wipes and suppositories in my purse when we go on road trips. Eh, you do what you have to.

    Still, I feel for you… and Marlo! And even the poor, confused teacher.

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/01/08 at 4:48 pm

    I am totally sending you a cookie.

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/01/08 at 4:49 pm

    This is one of the best comments ever left on the entire Internet.

  • Cade

    2013/01/08 at 4:51 pm

    That’s amazing and hilarious!

  • Kacey

    2013/01/08 at 4:54 pm

    Obviously not a home made cookie, but a cookie would be awesome. In any case, you make blanket statements about 3 year olds – “Kids that age have one painful bowel movement and decide that they’re never going to poop again leading to horrifying constipation. ” Your own experience with your own child does not equate with “kids that age”. And regardless, enemas seem pretty traumatic.

  • Britiney

    2013/01/08 at 4:59 pm

    This seriously just made my entire week. This post and the Rocket Up My Butt comment. Maybe month.

  • Bunnyhop234

    2013/01/08 at 5:35 pm

    Kacey, you are annoying. I am pretty sure Heather did not mean that every child that age has had this experience.

  • creaves

    2013/01/08 at 5:38 pm

    Haha! Poor kid.

  • Stew

    2013/01/08 at 5:54 pm

    This is funny.

  • Guest

    2013/01/08 at 6:00 pm

    Actually, my three year old has this EXACT PROBLEM. Painful poop = 3 years of awful constipation. Sooo… it’s actually pretty darn accurate for many of us. And it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Don’t judge a situation you’re not familiar with.

  • Kris Washburn

    2013/01/08 at 6:04 pm

    My son never needed an enema, so I thought I was home free. Not so much with the girl. Yup, that hard painful poop caused me to have to buy enemas in bulk. Yay Costco.

    I, too, though, was expecting a glitter enema story.

  • Sarah

    2013/01/08 at 6:09 pm

    You would need more room for your weed when dealing with a 3-year-old. I don’t want to come off offensive, but I feel like old Heather is back. Please don’t think I am complaining about your last year of hardship that you shared with us, people can relate either way. I just missed posts like these. I love your touching and personal posts, too. What can I say that I haven’t? I’m a fan of the sarcastic I don’t give a fuck Heather. It’s your fault. 🙂

  • lizmk

    2013/01/08 at 6:18 pm

    Normally I can’t really nod my head and say “yes, yes, I hear ya” to mommyblogging stories because I have cats. But, I have had to give enemas to my obese toddler-sized cats. It’s what’s known around here as “kitty volcano” and I can assure you it isn’t quaint. Yay, enemas…

  • Missie

    2013/01/08 at 7:12 pm

    It’s probably more common than you think. Dealing with this with my 4 y.o. Yup. Holds it until he’s constipated and enemas are a must.

  • Missie

    2013/01/08 at 7:14 pm

    So funny b/c it is so real. So legit!

  • michele

    2013/01/08 at 7:52 pm

    I needed a good laugh. this one was great!

  • Ellejay

    2013/01/08 at 8:15 pm

    My two year old is already starting with the poop refusal. The doctor even warned us about it. And NOW I learn that toddler enemas are commonly necessary? Yet another thing no one mentioned before I went and had a kid!

  • Bryna

    2013/01/08 at 8:23 pm

    Yup. Right here with three year old with the post potty learning constipation blues. We’re feeding her prune puree EVERY DAY. Which, on it’s way to producing the promised poop produces copious stinky gas. We’re invited to ALL the cool parties.

  • Jodi

    2013/01/08 at 8:33 pm

    Classic! We to had to give Butt Medicine, only we called it Butt Butt Medicine trying to up the cuteness and downplay the trauma. Nothing says cute and not at all horrible about a 3 year old yelling “NO BUTT BUTT MEDICINE!” Never fear, she’s 14 now and laughs at this story so there’s hope for us all.

  • Dana Marie Vittum

    2013/01/08 at 8:39 pm

    Glitter is the herpes of the crafting world. Do not know why anyone would think that glitter and small children go together. Crazy.

  • Laird Nelson

    2013/01/08 at 8:57 pm


  • Krista Grillo

    2013/01/08 at 9:09 pm

    Three year olds are not little deranged convicts. Toddlers and anyone under the age of five are like tiny, angry, mean drunks. Thinks about it: they are around two-3 feet tall, they have terrible balance, slur their words as they say unreasonable things, yell, throw tantrums, make messes and finally fall down, cry and go to sleep.

  • Jean Pitzi Lug

    2013/01/08 at 9:41 pm

    google encopresis and soiling solutions. you’ll see how common it actually is. Heather is very open about this, but because of people like you who react like this, most people do not talk about it, and therefore you very may well know someone who has had to give their child an enema. You think and enema is traumatic? What about a kid who is so backed from holding it that they throw up poop? Or a kid who develops mega colon (stretched out colon) because they were so backed up, and then they continually leak feces because it can’t be controlled. Don’t judge someone about something you know nothing about.

  • Casey @ The Baker Bee

    2013/01/08 at 9:41 pm

    I. Just. Cried.

  • Stephanie - Home with the Kids

    2013/01/08 at 9:57 pm

    You are making me so grateful that Miralax worked for my son. He had huge (and I mean HUGE) problems with constipation, but our doctor had us use Miralax. Just sounds way easier than butt medicine.

  • Jen

    2013/01/08 at 10:37 pm

    Your first time helping at preschool? So a ‘mommy blogger’ doesn’t do ‘mommy stuff’?

  • MB

    2013/01/09 at 12:06 am

    Best analogy ever.

  • MB

    2013/01/09 at 12:14 am

    1. You’re pretty annoying.
    2. Obviously you have never potty trained or dealt with children and their bowel movements.
    3. My daughter heard an automatic flush toilet at three years of age while we were in the middle of finishing up potty training and it took her almost SIX years to get over her fear of auto-flush toilets.
    4. An enema is a lot better than an impacted bowel needing the care of a physician.
    5. Switch to decaf.

  • Cory Zacker

    2013/01/09 at 6:35 am

    Too damn funny. Thanks for the laugh, 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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