the smell of my desperation has become a stench

And lo, the house was christened

Yeah, the moving. I’ll get to that. But right now… these first few days in the new house… I have to keep reminding myself that there is going to be an adjustment period. I have to cut myself some slack, let some things go. Because when I look at the amount of boxes and bins that need to be unpacked I start to feel the beginning of a panic attack. You ever have one of those? No? They’re super fun. Just imagine your older brother holding your head underwater far longer that you are capable of holding your breath, and when he finally lets you up for air he’s just farted in your face.

I have a vague idea of where things are right now, things like garbage bags, coats and gloves, snow boots, batteries. Last night when I found the pencil sharpener so that Leta could do her math homework I celebrated like a lunatic. She was like, dude. It’s just a pencil sharpener. And I was like, dude, considering the fact that I have no idea where the salt shaker is, it might as well be a golden fucking egg. HERE IS YOUR SHARPENED PENCIL.

This morning was the first official Get Everyone Fed and Dressed and Out the Door to School in the new house, and like I said, I know that there is going to be an adjustment period. And I started repeating that in my head about two minutes after Marlo woke up and I realized that she was miserably constipated.


Oooohhhh say can you seeeee! By the donzer lee light!

Yeah. The national anthem of this website. What.


There are four things I own that I packed in my purse so that I would KNOW where they were when I moved: one, my passport. Two, my driver license. Three, my checkbook. Four, Marlo’s fiber supplement.

Wait. There were five things. But my dad reads this website and he doesn’t need to know about my vibrator.

Instead of spending the next hour eating breakfast and getting ready for school, Marlo and I sat in the bathroom and contemplated poop. I kept asking her to go poop, she kept refusing. Then she started screaming which quickly turned into crying which quickly turned into PLEASE LET ME GET OFF OF THIS TOILET. Given the fact that she had to be at school in less than a half hour, I relented and decided I’d try again later. Here’s where I’d like to request a scientific study on the percentage of their life a parent spends thinking about the regularity of their offspring. In the first five years of a child’s life, it’s got to be, what? Like, 100%?

I quickly got her dressed, brushed her hair and teeth, and then pulled Leta aside to thank her for being a functioning nine-year-old who can take care of those things herself. For those of you who have to get five kids ready for school in the morning, I waffle between wondering why you didn’t practice birth control and nominating you for a Pulitzer.

We rushed downstairs, gathered up lunch boxes and backpacks, and zipped up coats. As I tucked the car keys in my purse and headed toward the garage, Marlo suddenly froze a few feet away from me, grabbed her butt and whispered, “I think I pooped my pants.”

She thinks she pooped her pants. THINKS.

I reiterate that part to explain what happened next.

You’re like, what do you mean “what happened next” ?? The kid pooped her pants. Rush her to the bathroom, for crying out loud.

WAIT. Wait one second, you well-rested reader.

Remember that I just moved into a new home. I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in weeks. Rushing her to the bathroom would have been rational, yes, but the part of my brain that governs rational thinking gave me these instructions: since she only THINKS that she’s pooped in her pants, maybe she really hasn’t so you should rush over to her, pull down her pants and check.

Which is what I did. And when I discovered that she had indeed pooped her pants that same part of my brain said, “It’s pretty solid. If you grab it, you might be able to get it out of her pants before it really makes a mess.”

And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air!

Leta was standing at the door watching this whole thing play out. She shook her head and asked, “Why are you holding her poop in your hands?”

She asks very good questions, that one. And I would have answered it, except the turd I was holding in my hand had been serving as a stopper, and suddenly everything stored behind it started shooting out and there I was catching poop with both hands as it came out of my kid’s butt.

Listen. You and Leta can both stop shaking your heads at me. I couldn’t pick her up because I had poop in one hand and even if I did she would have leaked poop down the hallway and ALRIGHT. FINE. I will get some sleep. And you? You can go out right now and refill your birth control prescription.


  • Stew Ellington

    2013/03/12 at 3:44 pm

    Three words: cocktails.

  • luv and kiwi

    2013/03/12 at 3:47 pm

    LOL…I’m so trying not to laugh, but the image of you cradling poop is too, too much. As a lover of all things related to poop I commend you and applaud you. Seriously, when will the television producers come knocking…you have everything necessary for a successful sitcom. Let me know if you need some good anti-bacterial soap suggestions!

  • Sarah Gammell Matthews

    2013/03/12 at 3:47 pm

    When I first started reading your blog I thought “what? how can there be so many poop stories?” Then came my own two girls, each with their own set of fun poop issues. Now I have a poop story to match each of your poop stories and stand in solidarity with anyone who will catch poop in their hands without even blinking! My life…

  • Ann

    2013/03/12 at 3:48 pm

    When I saw the title, I thought, “Coco pee? wine? plumbing fiasco?” Never did I imagine it would be Marlo poop. In Your Hands. My kids are asking me why I’m laughing so hard. Thanks for sharing – and hang the hell in there.

  • lyzl

    2013/03/12 at 3:48 pm

    hahahaha…oh crap. That is awful. And hilarious.

  • Hilary

    2013/03/12 at 3:49 pm

    Fabulous. It can only get better from here, no? And yes, in your scientific survey I would check the 100% box!

  • Joanna Sequeira

    2013/03/12 at 3:50 pm

    My son pooped in his pants on the drive home yesterday because I, his mother, didn’t stop when he told me numerous times he had to poop. I still feel like a jerk.

  • Elle

    2013/03/12 at 3:51 pm

    Aaaaand I’m sure Marlo will love to have this on record, in public, when she is old enough to know about it. I cringe for her in advance.

  • MandaCakes

    2013/03/12 at 3:54 pm


  • Amy

    2013/03/12 at 3:54 pm

    Oh i love every single piece of you. You make normal mundane stuff, we as moms deal with on a daily basis, sound funny. My head would have exploded and I would have started speaking in tongues. Sort of like when I called my 10 year a dumb ass after he kicked his older sisters wound to the bone in her shit just for grins and giggles at the arena Sunday, IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY

  • Hanni

    2013/03/12 at 3:55 pm

    omg…I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything as I read this. It would be streaming out of my nose right now. What a vivid picture you painted!!!

  • MikaelShort

    2013/03/12 at 3:57 pm

    Hahahahahaha…. wow. Yes, please go get some sleep. Oh, the joys of potty training.

  • Sunny Quinn Archibald

    2013/03/12 at 3:58 pm

    I just have to say, I love you (and your wicked sense of humor).

  • jess crawford!

    2013/03/12 at 3:59 pm

    THIS IS AMAZING. And horrible. And amazing. Well … I’m glad she pooped?

  • kerry

    2013/03/12 at 4:01 pm

    And this is why I keep coming back to Dooce. We’ve all been there. My constipation story…well it’s really my husband’s, goes like this: 2 year old crying due to constipation. Frantic parents on phone to advice nurse starting a warm bath. Besides the rectal thermometer up the butt trick, we were told to sit in a warm bath with him and rub his belly. Low and behold after a few minutes of belly rubbing by my husband sitting in the tub with son, out comes the poop. Fills the water with a nice brown liquid. My husband is now sitting in the water along with my son. Priceless.

  • Emily S

    2013/03/12 at 4:01 pm

    omg I’m laughing so hard. I can only hope that’s not something I have to experience with my child (though, I have had the pleasure of catching vomit).

  • Josey

    2013/03/12 at 4:02 pm

    Oh my gosh, I just laughed harder…and harder…and harder at this post. You are frickin’ hysterical, and you are definitely not the first parent to grab a stick of poop and then think NOW WHAT?!

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/03/12 at 4:03 pm

    You’re a peach.

  • The Absent Minded Housewife

    2013/03/12 at 4:03 pm

    My seven year old son interrupted me whilst reading this story to tell me what his fart smelled like. So, bonus for me.

  • Andrea

    2013/03/12 at 4:06 pm

    Hey everyone, Elle’s here to be a party pooper! Haha, see what I did there?

  • Sara P

    2013/03/12 at 4:18 pm

    Plain & simple: your gift for creating shit situations into solid gold laughter is unparalleled. Thank you for your candor and the ability to find humor in it all. You’re a rock star Mom; never forget it.

  • Jennifer (Bullock) OwYoung

    2013/03/12 at 4:18 pm

    Not sure my original comment worked but basically, I’m giggling and crying as I read this in the waiting room. I’m minutes away from finding out if I’m having a boy or girl. And because of that, I’m full of water for the ultrasound. Trying not to pee with laughter too!

  • Brendansmon

    2013/03/12 at 4:19 pm

    Laughing hysterically!! Love it. You always manage to put into words all the crazy things us parents deal with but are too embarrassed to share. We should all share the craziness.

  • Sharon Harris

    2013/03/12 at 4:22 pm

    I love you and your children because only here do I read things that make me laugh until I cry. And often pee my pants a little.

  • Nodrog

    2013/03/12 at 4:33 pm

    My entire childhood from about age 4 was fraught with constipation, pooped pants, and a huge amount of stress and parental mismanagement around one of the most basic parts of being human. It is no laughing matter. I hated pooping due to being punished for not making it to the bathroom in time as a very young child. After that, I always tried to ignore my body, hold it in, and generally be in denial about it which caused a lot of discomfort and pooped pants throughout elementary school and even beyond. I tried to ignore it, but…the smell. This caused major humiliation, stress, and embarrassment in my life well into my teens. Even as an adult, I have a serious aversion to poop jokes or references and still view it as one of the most distasteful parts of being human. I find the idea of anal intercourse profoundly disturbing (even though I know others are fine with it). I didn’t find your story funny or heartwarming. Instead, it reminded me of one of the most unpleasant themes of my childhood. I hope that you can cope with this issue with sensitivity and grace rather than upset and punishment. Her basic lifelong attitude about pooping is at stake. My heart goes out to you and your daughter’s struggle on this issue.

  • dkj

    2013/03/12 at 4:39 pm

    Anyone who has ever lived with a constipated child knows that no one cares what happens after it comes out AS LONG AS IT COMES OUT. Throw it at a wall for all I care, Kid, just get that poop out of your butt so that we can all go on to live normal lives – until the next bout, anyway.

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/03/12 at 4:43 pm

    I appreciate you sharing this with us, and I’m sorry for your trauma. I assure you that Marlo is never punished for accidents. I do everything I can to help her issues around this with positive encouragement and making sure she takes a supplement that deters physical pain. My point in writing this was to try to find humor in the stress of a morning that was not at all funny while it was happening. If I know I can laugh about it later then I am more likely to remain calm as it’s happening.

  • Kristan

    2013/03/12 at 4:51 pm

    O.m.f.g. I’m cracking up and it’s so terrible but I can’t stop.

    I have a dog who regularly eats things that he shouldn’t — and sometimes they don’t have the easiest time coming out the other end — so I can at least sympathize to some degree.

    But oh wait, Heather has one or two of those too, doesn’t she…

  • natalie

    2013/03/12 at 4:51 pm

    Okay, not exactly the same as a kid, but I totally caught my dogs turd in my hands as she tried to take a dump on my parents pristine white carpets the first time she visited them. In fact, I dove toward her ass from across the room the second she assumed the position, catching the first piece just before it hit the ground. I didn’t know if I should cry in horror or scream in victory.

    My mom saw the whole thing, and has never looked at me the same way.

  • Michelle Meredith

    2013/03/12 at 4:52 pm

    I just LOST MY SHIT reading this.

  • Lauren Actkinson-Carlton

    2013/03/12 at 4:58 pm

    Yep. My entire life revolves around my children’s bodily fluids too. Poop is by far the worst.

  • Myrnie

    2013/03/12 at 5:08 pm

    Dying over here. Poop is life. We’re moms.

  • Tina Beveridge

    2013/03/12 at 5:12 pm

    on the contrary, this will be the best discipline tool Heather has in her arsenal when Marlo is 16.

  • Stephanie

    2013/03/12 at 5:13 pm

    Parenting leaves nothing to the imagination. Rational goes out the window with lack of sleep and stress. You are awesome. Annnndddd my 8 year old just told me NOT to go by the couch cause she farted. Yup. Bodily functions are the norm.

  • Serena Lily Marie

    2013/03/12 at 5:29 pm

    After throwing up in my mouth, I called Walgreens and refilled my birth control. Man oh man, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be cut out for motherhood.

  • Jen Dalley

    2013/03/12 at 5:42 pm

    Oh dooce. It’ll get better ! In the meantime you have some great stories for her first boyfriend 🙂

  • lizmk

    2013/03/12 at 5:47 pm

    I’ve done that with a constipated cat. ‘Round these parts, it’s known as a “kitty volcano” and I’m still scarred several years later.

  • marind

    2013/03/12 at 5:55 pm

    I am getting ready embark on some poop journeys. My 4, almost 5, year old started wetting the bed about a month ago. After several tests and an x-ray, it seems to be stemming from some blockage in the colon. We get to start the process of clearing things out tonight. (And hopefully it does the trick and isn’t something more complicated.) Thank goodness we have a lot of tile in this house. LOL!

  • Amy G

    2013/03/12 at 6:08 pm

    Hahaha! I think I just peed a little.

  • Jennifer Bryant

    2013/03/12 at 6:38 pm

    When my now 7 1/2 year old son was but an infant and I a (mostly frantic) new single mom, I was changing his diaper and turned just in time to see that he was shooting out a poop. Without a thought, without hesitation, my hand shot out and I caught it. Then cleaned my hand with a wipe, finished changing him, washed up, and maybe an hour later I realized what I’d done. Took me another hour to recover.

  • Maggie Spitler

    2013/03/12 at 6:45 pm

    O.M.G. That is the funniest thing I have read in YEARS! I’m sorry, but it’s hilarious! Fifteen years ago, did ya’ ever think? Probably not! lol!Thanks for the laugh; it was definitely needed around here. I must say I’ve been in a somewhat similar situation with my son. At a ball field. After eating grapes. Only, there was no constipation involved. Quite the opposite, actually…it wasn’t funny then, though…hmmm;)

  • bisquiat

    2013/03/12 at 6:46 pm

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant fucking writing.

  • Heidi Shah

    2013/03/12 at 6:59 pm

    Obviously Elle hasn’t been paying attention. If she had, she’d realize that Marlo will in fact be wearing this event with pride in later years. I mean really, reading comprehension folks.

  • Jen Cox

    2013/03/12 at 7:05 pm

    This. Was the best post ever. LOL

  • Kimberly

    2013/03/12 at 8:18 pm

    This was made all the more humorous because my sweet 4 year old did almost the same thing. fortunately it was at bedtime and near a bathroom. Thank you for reminding me it could have been worse! And on a side note, after skiing/sliding down my driveway this morning, it reminded me of your adventure in the ice storm. I do hope your new place is not on a hill.

  • kryssiecat

    2013/03/12 at 8:47 pm

    OMG I just read that out loud to my fiance over skype. I laughed so hard, I sounded like a squeaky toy(I really should stop smoking so much weed). And it all started with me saying that I didn’t want to have to think about someone else’s shit all the time. Parenting: what I have to look forward to. Thank you for adequately preparing me Heather!

  • Pixie Schultz

    2013/03/12 at 8:56 pm

    I’m giggling so hard right now. And yet, I understand your sleep deprived train of thought. Poor you and poor Marlo!

  • allconsuming

    2013/03/12 at 9:06 pm

    Well, look, it was either going to be hers, yours (I can still not unsee that scene of you in the bath…) or Chuck’s. It was solid and (relatively) contained. I’d take it as a win. Now go nap.

  • abby536

    2013/03/12 at 9:22 pm

    I think she’ll be laughing too hard from reading about the time her Mom pooped in the tub.

  • Sandy

    2013/03/12 at 9:29 pm

    Who knew there was a 5 second rule with poop to panties?

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.

read more