the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The Hamilton Family Movers

A little over ten years ago when I moved from Los Angeles to my mother’s basement, I had to hire a moving company to transport every object I had amassed between the two states. It took three days to pack up the apartment, most of it a ridiculous wardrobe of clothing that made sense to wear at a cafe in West Hollywood. Not so much in a grocery store in Draper, Utah. I’m looking at you, turquoise tank top that I’d wear without a bra to the office. Listen to me, kids in your twenties: you’re going to look back at these years and remember the fun, yes, but you’re also going to look back and think GOOD LORD GOD NO WAY MAKE IT STOP. Put on a bra, YOU.

Those movers gave me a quote somewhere in the $5,000 range. Yeah. Insane. I had to empty my savings account and then borrow more money when they called and said, oops. We thought all your stuff was going to weigh THIS but actually it weighs TRIPLE THIS. Damn those five-pound textbooks form college that I cannot part with.

I will say it again: I am rather fond of diagrams of cellular mitosis. I’m willing to pay to transport them.

I now own approximately seventeen hundred million percent more things than I did ten years ago, and yes, I am partly to blame, but come on. Kids come out of the womb with 3,000 pounds of gear. They plop out with breast pumps and strollers and burp cloths and air filters. And all that stuff multiplies and fills every empty space like water seeping into cracks. Like a contagious disease on a crowded subway train. We are all going to die. Sorry. Spoiler.

It is no secret that the last year and a half of my life has been difficult. It’s been a lot like my freshman year of college when I called my mother at least three times a day in hysterical tears. It’s been exactly like that. And I hope that if either of my daughters ever need me the way I have needed her that I can give them what she has given me. Well, I can’t put their names on the prayer list in the temple because I’m not allowed inside. So I guess I’ll just have to break in. And hope my insurance will cover “struck by lightning.”

My mother knows that moving and the chaos of stuff being scattered everywhere is a huge trigger for me, so she came to me and said, look. You are not hiring movers. Remember what it cost you to move from Los Angeles? Multiply that number by seventeen hundred million percent. Why spend that money when there are boys attending BYU who could help you, and in doing so they are scoring points toward owning their own planet? YOU are helping THEM.

You guys! I am an instrument of God! I am furthering the cause of righteousness! This is not nearly as gross as I thought it was going to be!




She organized everything. Every single thing. Maybe she’s been bored since she retired from Avon, and here was this massive project she could manage. And now I understand how she was so successful. She gathered my entire immediate family, a few cousins and their strong friends from BYU, and Dane and Tyrant. Over the course of a week she and my stepfather would spend a few hours here and there helping me pack rooms and books and clothes. My father and stepmother came over and packed up a couple of bedrooms. When my stepmother found my drawer full of gay porn she didn’t even judge me out loud.

And then moving day. We rented a 16-foot truck, and the guys started moving the furniture from the top floor of the old house and made their way to the basement. They’d fill the truck and head to the new house where I directed and helped unload. In total they made five trips. The whole house got moved in four and a half hours.

Did you hear that? Read that part again. They moved me in four hours and thirty minutes. Next time the Mormon missionaries knock on your door? OPEN IT.

To thank everyone for their help we all took a break before the fourth trip and had a pizza party at the new place. I ordered 14 large pizzas and a few liters of orange soda and Diet Coke, and then we sang hymns because they were all that much closer to being planet owners!



When I moved out of my first house I was so done carrying around all that crap that I rented a 17-foot dumpster and filled it to overflowing with I don’t even know what. An old futon mattress? A shelf missing all its screws? Paint cans? My dignity? Point is, I participated in a lot of waste. A LOT. So much that I’m probably 40% responsible for global warming, and oh. Al Gore just called. He’d like to have a word with me.

My mother wouldn’t allow me to rent a dumpster this time. Instead, we donated everything I didn’t need to charity and properly disposed of old electronic equipment. My mother did not want to waste anything. If you extrapolate this value of hers it shows that she likes to conserve. And then if you extrapolate that value further I bet you she has a crush on Bill Clinton. My mother. She is a closet liberal.

Cleanup after the pizza party followed this theme, and during the week leading up to the move my ad partners asked if I’d be willing to highlight the GLAD® “One Bag” campaign that aims to bring awareness to sustainability and waste reduction. It was a total no-brainer because one, I already use GLAD® products, and two, we were going to be having a mid-move pizza party hosted by a project manager who demanded at the outset that we waste as little as possible. After everyone ate their pizza we managed to get all 25 paper plates and napkins and plastic knives and forks into a single garbage bag. All the pizza boxes got recycled. There I was participating in conservation with my family. Is this what it’s like to sit down at dinner and drink a glass of wine IN FRONT OF YOUR PARENTS?



In other news, I know exactly what I’m going to get Marlo for Christmas.


The move from Los Angeles when I was unemployed ended up costing over $7,000.

This move? I paid the following:

Moving truck: $98.37
Pizza: $85.44
Misc. expenses my mother managed: $220
Boxes and moving supplies: Free (most of them leftover from previous moves)

For a grand total of: $408.81

I cannot thank my family enough. YOU did this. You are amazing, wonderful people and I want the world to know.


This post is sponsored by GLAD®. Small changes can make a big difference. Here’s another family who successfully took the “One Bag” challenge.

  • Suebob

    2013/03/20 at 9:22 am

    Mormons, man. They should have their own named force in physics, like gravity or momentum.

  • Sara

    2013/03/20 at 9:23 am

    I thought you weren’t supposed to recycle pizza boxes. Learn something every day!

  • Kristan

    2013/03/20 at 9:24 am

    I believe it depends on how greasy they are. Something about grease makes them ineligible/hard to recycle. Hence why many pizza places use liners. (Or maybe my info is outdated and greasy pizza boxes are a go now? Not sure.)

  • Katybeth

    2013/03/20 at 9:25 am

    Congratulations to you all! Mom’s are the best…and Glad garbage bags are a close second-love them and use them. How hard is it to become Mormon?

  • Amber Gregory

    2013/03/20 at 9:29 am

    They are compostable!!! In SF we compost now and pizza boxes, no matter how greasy, are compostable.

  • Kristi K.

    2013/03/20 at 9:30 am

    Heather, thanks for taking the time to post top-notch content with everything that’s going on in your life. Yes, I know it’s your job and you are a ridiculous overachiever, but seriously, I am impressed. By the way, the new house looks good! Can’t wait to see how you make it a home.

  • Amy Jacobs

    2013/03/20 at 9:35 am

    Heather, you seem to be more and more like the old you every day. I hate your life has been so difficult, but the one good thing to come out of all the bad stuff is that you seem more grounded and more genuine. I’m enjoying reading you again! Truly. Good luck with the new house. Diggin the floors (though I hate grout!)

  • lizmk

    2013/03/20 at 9:35 am

    Your family is fantastic.

    I am moving 700 miles this summer; may I borrow your Mormons? It’s like asking someone to borrow a pickup truck for moving, only better.

  • Zoe Kingson

    2013/03/20 at 9:37 am

    Your family sounds incredible.

  • Joanne Zeis

    2013/03/20 at 9:40 am

    You coulda taken all those boxes to your small concrete courtyard out back and made a flaming pile. Kind of a welcome-to-the-neighborhood celebration! Fastest way for the neighbors to get to know you, at least once the firetrucks have left.

  • Dee Thompson

    2013/03/20 at 9:59 am

    Awesome the way your family pitched in to help. I want to see some photos of the new house!

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/03/20 at 10:00 am

    Thank you for this. I’m taking it from hour to hour because if I don’t it all becomes too overwhelming. In fact, I mark days off on a calendar, not in anticipation of some event, but because I like to look back and go, I made it through that week. And that week. And that one. I’m truly hopeful for the future, that it will settle down and the fires will stop going off every other minute. Words like yours really encourage me.

  • Aimee Giese

    2013/03/20 at 10:02 am

    We have mainly stayed in this house for 13 years just so we don’t have to move.

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/03/20 at 10:08 am

    Why didn’t you give me that advice earlier, AMIEE?

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/03/20 at 10:11 am

    I should note that the official costume of my family is Anything Bought At The BYU Bookstore.

  • Kristan

    2013/03/20 at 10:15 am

    Lol we noticed.

  • NJGirl

    2013/03/20 at 10:45 am

    One thing about having LDS family – you get all the benefits of the LDS Elders Quorum without the dogma.

  • Amanda Stackis

    2013/03/20 at 10:46 am

    Borrowing Mormons for moving is the best thing. I borrowed one of my Mormon besties and his brothers and I was loaded up and ready to move from SLC to Vermont in 2.5 hours.

  • Rachel Sea

    2013/03/20 at 10:50 am

    I just found out that the Mormon missionary boys will do chores for you if you ask, even if you are a godless heathen, such as myself. I am debating whether I am a horrible enough person to take advantage of this next time they show up on my doorstep. My yard needs a LOT of work.

  • Ari

    2013/03/20 at 10:56 am

    I do the checking-off thing, too. Getting to the end of a month and looking back at the aggregate number of days I’ve *survived* is such a relief. Anyway, I’m immensely grateful that you have this family, these people who love and help you, and I’m immensely grateful that you share this stuff with us. So, thank you.

  • Chrissy Bernal

    2013/03/20 at 10:57 am

    Nice!! Congrats on the new place, too!

  • ɯoɔ˙ɹǝƃƃolquǝʞoʇ

    2013/03/20 at 11:02 am

    The new house looks good — and like it even has a few of those things you always wanted in your dream house. Down sizing is not a bad thing at all. I hope the yard is fenced in so the dawgs have plenty of room to play, dig, and poop (that’s what mine do)!

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/03/20 at 11:05 am

    I moved exactly one time in my first 18 years of life, and it was when I was a year old, so, I didn’t do much. Then I went and moved 14 times in the following 12 years. Because I hate my self-destructive self. We’ve been in this current house for almost three years and as much as I hate it, I hate moving more and NEVER WANT TO DO IT AGAIN. (Although five people in 900 square feet feels a little cramped at times.) I remember moving my grandma out of the house she’d lived in for like 40 or 50 years. All my family came and helped and had her all packed up and out in 4-5 hours. Incredible what can happen with so many loved ones helping.

    Your mom sounds amazing. I’m so glad that you have her for support, and that she helps out so much!

  • Carol Chitko McKown

    2013/03/20 at 12:06 pm

    I want to hug your mom!

  • Kelly B

    2013/03/20 at 12:48 pm

    Isn’t that what large families are for? Moving help. That’s what I always heard.

  • Lisa

    2013/03/20 at 1:20 pm

    @Amy Jacobs Yes! She seems…happy again?! And I’ve been glad to see it. (And also, I wish I had one iota her mother’s talent.)

  • slc

    2013/03/20 at 1:38 pm

    I want your mom!

  • Kristin Latina-Dumont

    2013/03/20 at 1:52 pm

    Ack! I can’t believe you paid $7,000 to move once. This is the benefit of living in New England where you can cross three states without running up your mileage too much! In other news, Marlo is a doll; and your family is awesome!

  • Madam Von Sassypants

    2013/03/20 at 1:52 pm

    More like MORMENTUM, amirite?

  • Leah, agirlandaboy

    2013/03/20 at 1:57 pm

    TEN YEARS? The first time I read this site, the masthead was the one with all the boxes. Whoa.

  • Ashley Austrew

    2013/03/20 at 1:58 pm

    Why does Marlo look so grown up? Tell her to stop it.

  • Elizabeth

    2013/03/20 at 2:21 pm

    Now I’m wondering who I can give GLAD trash bags to for Christmas.

  • Laura

    2013/03/20 at 2:27 pm

    Dear Avon World Sales Leader — you are really, really awesome. Heather — so glad the move itself is behind you.

  • GKAdams

    2013/03/20 at 3:46 pm

    Oh, man! That is amazing! I wish I had a family like that because I’m about to face the same scenario.

  • Kristen Strong

    2013/03/20 at 4:30 pm

    Your mom is a rock star, Heather!

  • Virginia Campbell

    2013/03/20 at 5:00 pm


  • Meg H

    2013/03/20 at 9:20 pm

    It’s up to the municipality/recycling center — just like some places take all plastics, some take certain numbers, and some make me insane.

  • Meg H

    2013/03/20 at 9:21 pm

    In the last picture, Marlo looks so much like her grandmother. Is she the future Avon World Sales Leader? (Leaving aside the crazy-making, of course.)

  • Amy Jacobs

    2013/03/21 at 8:29 am

    You’re welcome! I am a long time reader…8 years. And I must admit, over the past few years I’ve gone through phases of really being critical of you (surely you remember that, lol). However, the past often shows us MANY things, (I’m learning that in my own life as well now at age 40) and I see what I was reacting to could have very well been some manifestations of your personal situation that I knew nothing about. Everyone has a backstory that influences how they operate. It’s an invisible domino effect often not even realized by the person it is impacting. I am sorry for my harsh judgement. You’d think at this point in my life I would know better (BIG learning curve apparently).

    During hard times and suffering, you either falter or stand. There was a time, a year ago, I was not sure you would make it. I could see you wobbling and struggling to stand so many times. It seemed precarious at best when reading your words. But now, with much help from your family and friends (God bless them!), and time and distance and your own realization that you CAN do this, you’re coming out the other side showing just what your made of!! Bravo Heather!

    I’m a mother of two young daughters. I lay awake at night sometimes scared shitless what I would do if I had to raise them alone (hell, let’s be truthful, I lay awake scared shitless about raising them not alone too!) I know I could do it. I’ve been through lots of tough stuff in my life, so I’m not worried about being able to do it. I simply know how hard it would be and am scared of the prospect! It’s like knowing how painful recovering from surgery is, but knowing you have no choice but to go through it. You will live, but suffering pain is an unavoidable byproduct. So all you can do is take a deep breath, overcome your fear, do it and then hold on to the hope that you’ll be healed and whole again at some point. But the fear of the unknown and how painful it will be and how you’ll be able to cope and function is terrifying! No one knows what they are made of until they are in the midst of the pain.

    One day you will look back on these times and realize that life was hard, miserable and even nearly unbearable at times, but every moment worked to make you a better person! That’s what it’s all about…not big houses, pretty things, money, fame. What matters is at the end of the day you feel that, no matter what came your way, you muddled through…kept going and lived and learned from ALL of it. I wish you nothing but the best! But keep in mind that “the best” might not be what you thought it would look like five years ago, and that is OKAY!

  • Kirsty Rice 4kids20suitcases

    2013/03/21 at 11:51 am

    Everyone needs a stepmother who doesn’t judge them for their gay porn. From someone who has moved 7 times in the past 12 years, I bow at your feet.

  • Sassy Lawyer

    2013/03/21 at 1:06 pm

    I agree. The spontaneity and lilt are back in your words, Heather. Have to admit I rarely read you for the past two years (though I read you a lot before then) but I’m reading you again now almost every day.

  • FrancescaFineJewelry

    2013/03/21 at 5:20 pm

    Just take it one day at a time and you’ll survive. Being a single parent is hard work, but it’s good that you have a support system. It will all pass. Kids will grow and go on their own, and you’ll look back and wonder how you got through it without anyone losing a limb. My kids are all adults now. The baby is in college. My daughter asked me the other day how I did it as a single parent, and I didn’t have the slightest idea.

  • Misty Hinnefeld

    2013/03/21 at 5:25 pm

    oh my that sounds all kinds of NOT APPROPRIATE! haha

  • Misty Hinnefeld

    2013/03/21 at 5:27 pm

    YOU NEED TO HAVE AN OFFICIAL ONLINE DOOCE-STYLE HOUSEWARMING PARTY! I really want to see the rest of your house, especially the outside of it! Also, what does the bathtub look like??!!

  • Michele Rowe

    2013/03/21 at 9:03 pm

    When we moved out of Boston and into the suburbs, we used a moving company that employed young Israeli men who were visiting the US after serving time in the military. Talk about military precision. They moved us and all of our newly married acquisitions in record time. And they didn’t even require pizza – just lots of water. I couldn’t believe the speed and ease with which they navigated the three flights of stairs between our apartment and the street. It was a sight!

  • Samantha Durrie

    2013/03/22 at 3:50 pm

    I am inspired to go clean out my apartment right now! And if I use only one bag, that would be a miracle.

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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