the smell of my desperation has become a stench

You can probably tell I’m still a little tired

Saturday afternoon the girls and I were chatting with my cousin Kenzie in the living room, the three of us taking turns holding the baby, when inevitably the topic of conversation turned nostalgic. Leta asked Kenzie how long she’d been her babysitter, and we all gasped when we realized she was with us for three years. Three whole years. That’s longer than a Mormon mission. Longer than some graduate programs. That’s longer than her husband’s hair, you guys.

We started to reminisce about what a fantastic sleeper Marlo used to be. Because Friday night she woke up at 2AM and would not go back to sleep, not because she was sick or had suffered a nightmare, no. She was amped that Leta had a friend sleeping over and wanted to celebrate. Small things like this disrupt her sleep now. I know I should be more forgiving because she’s just four years old and blah blah blah NO. I will not be more forgiving. There are big things and there are small things and on that list of big things is, wait, let me check it. Nothing. There is nothing on that list. She shouldn’t ever be waking up at night.

Nope. Not even if the world was ending. Because if any of the religions are true, she is so going to want to sleep through that shit.

So, yeah. 2AM and on (on…on…on… AS IT ECHOES THROUGH MY EMPTY BRAIN).

Ever since she learned how to climb out of her crib sleep has been a crapshoot with Marlo. Kenzie asked me if I remembered the frantic text she sent me that one awful afternoon when she was sitting in the living room having just put Marlo down for a nap and suddenly she heard a crashing thud overhead.

“Do I remember it?!” I repeated a little too emotionally. “You mean the one that said, ‘WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO READ YOUR EULOGY?'”

Nicki Minaj after inhaling a gallon of helium. That’s who.

I was out running errands when she texted that Marlo had twice climbed out of her crib, the second time a little more dramatically than the first, and wondered if she should try to put her back in. I knew the very sad, very life-altering answer, “No.” This milestone is so immediately dangerous that you can’t ever put them back in the crib. Sadly, you cannot strap them down with rope or chain their ankles to a bar. You cannot duct tape their head to the pillow. I asked every lawyer I knew about this.

It took several weeks of failed approaches to get her to sleep through the night again, and it wasn’t until my friend Kate suggested the Cloud b ladybug night light that Marlo settled into anything resembling a normal routine. That ladybug became as important to my sanity as my prescription for Prozac, and when replacing the batteries wouldn’t fix it a few weeks ago I put the girls in the car RIGHT THEN and headed out to buy another one. She is not spoiled, no, I am just selfish. Threaten my sleep and I’d hand over my own mother to the Russians.

Strangely, Marlo didn’t want the ladybug this time:


(Remind me to tell you about Leta’s dead fish.)

Every single person who has come through this house since then has been shown “the turtle who turnsth orange!” Four out of five nights are good nights because of this little dude. But then there are nights like Friday where not even he can work his magic and she thinks, IT IS TIME TO FUCK SHIT UP, and by SHIT I mean MY MOM, and by MY MOM I mean, hold on a second, the head of this bat that I just chewed off is bleeding all over my pajamas.

  • ajaynesray

    2013/08/19 at 4:59 pm

    A friend of ours gave my son that turtle when he was born and I never thought he would like it so much. He’ll be 3 in a few weeks and I have to ask each night what color stars he wants because watch out if momma puts it on green and he wants blue! Can’t win. Ever.

  • Rachel Sea

    2013/08/19 at 5:00 pm

    My great-grandma gave all the kids, and grandkids a shot of NyQuil before bed, to make sure they stayed there. I’m sure it’s pure coincidence that they all developed substance abuse problems later in life.

  • lisdom

    2013/08/19 at 5:04 pm

    Although I have 100% the opposite personality as Marlo, unfortunately I do not remember the last time I slept through the night, and I have been this way since well under 5 years old. I am now 33.

  • kmpinkel

    2013/08/19 at 5:12 pm

    Yes, my two youngest have the same sort of thing. One got the penguin and the other HAD to have the pink pony. The oldest says the penguin freaks him out, so his sister offers the pink pony as an offering.

  • Laurie

    2013/08/19 at 5:23 pm

    We have an air purifier that I bet no longer purifies air. It sits on the floor at the foot of my five-year-old son’s bed. I’m pretty sure he would never sleep without that white noise maker. God help me when it craps out. Because I will definitely drop $80 and buy a new one.

  • Melissa Hunting

    2013/08/19 at 5:34 pm

    My then 5-year-old daughters got these from Grandma for Christmas, the penguin and the unicorn. My then 19-month-old son received the dog, who projects stars as well. Guess who gets woken up by “Starsth! STARSTH!!!” whenever my son wakes up and the timer has already turned off? It sure isn’t Grandma.

  • Beth

    2013/08/19 at 5:40 pm

    I know this will sound apocryphal, but our son, Noah, figured out how to climb out of his crib two nights before we were going out of town about three months or so ago. He did it for those two nights, and then once we came home he hasn’t done it since. I think he actually likes his den of a crib. He has his glow worm he’s had from day one, two different sized Pooh bears, two blankets, two kinds of little pillows, and now a mickey and minnie mouse. Add to all that whatever little car or bus he needs that night.

  • suzinrva

    2013/08/19 at 6:36 pm

    We have TWO of these bad mamajamas in my house and a case of batteries on hand at any given moment. I consider these essential to our end of days bug out apocalyptic supplies…cause you know what? If Nat Geo Doomsday Preppers has taught me anything, these mofos will be currency when stuff goes down!

  • Johi Kokjohn-Wagner

    2013/08/19 at 6:54 pm

    When our oldest started climbing out of the crib, my husband- ever the inventor- kept trying to convince me to let him build a “lid” for the crib “that had slats in it, hinged on one side and latched on the other”. I listened, then calmly explained to him how his “crib lid” MAY be misconstrued for a CAGE. I encouraged him to go back to the drawing board. Meanwhile, I put the tot in his big boy bed.

  • Jessica McCoy

    2013/08/19 at 7:16 pm

    Time for the duct tape? It comes in pink now, which means it’s legit for Marlo, right? Not to the pillow. TO THE BED!

  • KateTdid

    2013/08/19 at 7:46 pm

    I love Marlo. That is all.

  • ST

    2013/08/19 at 7:55 pm

    That turtle freaked my daughter out for the first 6 months we had it, but it became so vital to our survival that I bought a new one for my older son’s 2nd birthday. I love that damn turtle.

  • ST

    2013/08/19 at 7:58 pm

    Oh my gosh, my husband recommends this idea all the time for my middle child (my daredevil climber).

  • greenplanner

    2013/08/19 at 9:14 pm

    Back in the day (the 1960’s to be precise) this is exactly what my parents did. Nobody died and we all slept GREAT.

  • Natasha

    2013/08/19 at 9:53 pm

    I may have to get one. The Hurricane is closing in on 4 and WITHOUT fail 2am means 2 becomes 3 in the parental bedroom. Every since he climbed out of his crib at 16 months. I NEED SLEEP
    Also, I have been a major creeper on your blog for the past two-ish years, and I’m pretty sure Marlo and Emmett are born of the same demon star. With their adorable insane selves.

  • Natasha

    2013/08/19 at 9:55 pm

    Hub has suggested kenneling the kids. We have large dog, so large kennel. The thought has crossed my mind….

  • Carly Palacios

    2013/08/19 at 11:31 pm

    Uh… yeah we just turned our daughter’s crib upside down when she started climbing out at 2. She’d crawl right in, no problem, and we all slept great. Older sis climbed out ONCe and scared herself so bad she never tried again, but not this one! Now that we dismantled her crib (new house is too tiny), she sleeps in a playyard with a sheet tied over the top. If she’s not caged in, ain’t nobody sleeping!!

  • megrit411

    2013/08/20 at 8:49 am

    Every time I read one of these toddler or little kid posts I look at my eight month old twins, little guys who are just attempting to crawl and I think “Holymotherofgod what is heading my way?”
    I should stop reading the Internet.

  • Stephanie Wilson

    2013/08/20 at 5:46 pm

    Both my 4 and 6 year old have the turtles and I don’t see them leaving my house any time soon.

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/08/21 at 12:19 pm

    My two-year-old has a light-up aquarium that he turns on by himself if he wakes up in the night. If that thing ran out of batteries at 2am? I would be out buying batteries at 2am. SLEEP IS IMPORTANT.

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/08/21 at 12:20 pm

    My aunt did that to her kids, too. I didn’t think much of it when I was witnessing it at 10, but goodness, damaging, much?!

  • Lala

    2013/08/22 at 12:01 am

    Yes. I now have an 11-mo old who can walk, and carefully climb onto and *off* the couch. But only if she can see the remote control, because that is her prey. Once caught, she presses the buttons to make it light up, and lightly chews on it until we can wrest it from her grip.
    She can’t sleep in a crib anymore due to her climbing prowess, so we have resorted to a pack’n’play that is devoid of toys. Why no toys? Because she will stack them in the corner and use them to escape. She does get a stuffed monkey, but not anything that could be used as a means of escape.
    What about baby gates? Well, we had to try three different models until we found one that is basically a plain sheet of plexiglass with no toe or finger-holds. She can still grab the top and hoist herself up, but not over the gate–so we’re safe for a little longer. She has figured out that she can drag a toy over and climb up the toy though…so toy usage near the gates must be closely monitored.
    I really had no idea that infants were this inventive, or remotely this intelligent–I thought that came later.
    Princess TinyMonkey started crawling at 6 months, so you may have a few months leeway…but I wouldn’t count on it! Tiny humans are wily little creatures, and two of them together sounds like 4x the trouble.
    Best of luck!

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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