Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.


This featured community question comes from member fellowtoucans:


I’m not sure that I owed it to anyone, but I did create and continue to host a community section of my website where people can sign up for free and ask questions exactly like this one. I’ve given away money, game consoles, cameras, and subscriptions. I’ve held meet-ups in various cities to shake hands and exchange hugs with some of you. I’ve advocated for those who suffer mental illness and for better maternal healthcare and education. I’ve shown you my scars from skin cancer. I’ve donated thousands of dollars to various charitable organizations, some of which were recommended by you. I can’t but I wish I could come to your house and pour you a glass of wine and let you tell me everything that is wrong because you so desperately need someone to listen. Instead I try to articulate the things that are going haywire over here in case reading what I’m going through gives you any sort of release. That’s my job. That’s what I can offer you.

I do not owe you the details of my divorce. I know you want to know, you’re curious, you’ve been reading along for years and have been invested in the well being of my family. I’m sorry if it feels like I left you out in the cold by not giving you a point by point explanation of where things went off the rails, but things went off the rails. That is all I can give you. The picture you had of my marriage was incomplete, and that was purposeful on my part because the only acceptable place to air the problems between us was in front of a therapist. My own children will never know the details, should never be privy to the details, and that alone prevents me from filling in that picture for you.

You want to know about my boyfriend. You’re curious. You’ve seen pictures of him on Instagram and don’t understand why I won’t write about him. Given the stories I read in local and national publications about my separation and divorce and the message boards filled with rumors and lies and accusations, the comments left on my own website, I have no desire to write about another relationship. Because I can’t give you the full picture. The ever-evolving dynamic of any relationship, if honored as it should be, has no place in a one-sided blog post. Sure, I’m exposing myself to all of those various ugly things just by acknowledging the relationship with a photo, but that photo is what I can give you. That photo is my way of letting you know that I’m trying to move forward with my life, and although I don’t owe it to you to tell you that, I am grateful enough for your investment in the well being of my family to offer it to you.

You want to know about all these projects and meetings I allude to. Why am I being so vague? Why do I just throw those words around? This is a less about what I owe you and a lot more about not wanting to bore you. So: meetings with my accountant, various lawyers, business managers, and gatherings for the local non profit on which I serve as a board member. Meetings with my ad partners and agent, PR agencies trying to figure out how to work with bloggers, and phone calls with project managers who want me to promote their ideas. Freelance writing and design work. Back-to-school meetings with teachers and preschool orientation. Fourth grade math homework.

Business-wise this may be a bad decision on my part, withholding these details. Because your desire to know all the ins and outs has left you little patience for me. Posting around here is lighter than it normally is. It’s not nearly as funny as it should be, I’ve heard. Why stick around anymore? I don’t have an answer for you, although I’ll repeat what I said in the first paragraph and remind you why I’m here, why I’ve always been here. I’m offering you a place at my table, a seat on my couch. And what I most certainly do owe you is my honesty, my heart even. That’s what our relationship was built on.

And to that end, I’m having a really hard time. Keeping my head above water is a daily struggle right now, and whether it’s seasonal or the disorienting changes my life has seen over the last few months, it’s the reason why sometimes I sit down to write something and I cannot summon a word. And when words pay the bills the problem gets even more complicated.

I trust that things will look up, and I just need to give it some time. I’ve been through periods like this before when it seems everything goes wrong at exactly the same time, and if I can just get up and make it through my day things will turn around eventually. They always do. Words will come more easily. And for those of you who have continued to offer me patience, I cannot thank you enough for that generosity. Thank you for sticking around. You certainly don’t owe me that.

  • Margaret

    I don’t think it’s an issue of owing anyone anything. However, I can see your dilemma, and it must be a very difficult one. When you started your blog, you were young and naive and didn’t mind sharing intimate details about your life with your readers. Now, things have changed and that is understandable. Unfortunately, when you establish your online personality as someone who shares intimate details about your life, then suddenly (or even not so suddenly) you don’t, you may be alienating or turning off readers who liked the blogger with the share-all personality. It doesn’t matter whether it’s wrong or right or whether you owe someone something. But if you compare it to friendship, if you start out telling your friends everything about your life, and then once things get really hard you don’t – you might just lose some friends, or at least they might get frustrated and change their opinion of you. Again, I’m not picking sides, it’s just the facts. Using myself as an example, I’ve been reading your blog for at least 5 years, and my visit frequency has wained. That might be my life changing (having kids, being busier) or yours (stories are not as “juicy,” for example). Again, I don’t envy your situation but I think I do understand it on some level. I still read your blog and absolutely feel for your position. If I were you, I don’t know if I could keep writing it at all. Maybe that thought has crossed your mind and I’m sure that is incredibly scary. Good luck – with lots of love.

  • Heather Armstrong

    It is interesting watching it continue to evolve, isn’t it? Some of my meetings in San Francisco were about this exactly, that’s it’s still as much of a Wild West as it was when it started. Thank you for the encouragement.

  • Debra

    Furthermore….! When you handle things the way you have chosen, you actually raise the vibration of the planet as opposed to the gritty gory gooey details, which really would not. I have so much respect for how you have handled this, I don’t even have the words to tell you how much I respect that.

  • Colgate

    Heather, I love how you honor your marriage, Jon and your children by NOT posting the details. They are not our business. Thank you for all the posts you did provide about your marriage and its dissolution despite the fact that you did not owe it to us. Thank you for honoring your self, your children and your current relationship by keeping private what needs to be kept private, and sharing what feels comfortable to you. I love seeing how your children are growing and following your adventures in life, the good and the difficult. Thank you for being your honest, open, funny self with us as you’re able to. I learn from your blog, I am comforted by your words and love that I have a virtual friend whom I can visit in cyberspace.

    In the meantime, I’ll hold the space for you to find your balance again. I’m going through my own major transitions now, and I hope that knowing your full space is there for you will help you as it is helping me.

    Love and hugs to you!

  • Mark Johnson

    Knowing how everyday life can derail even the best laid plans of anyone, I’ve always wondered how the passage of time and the maturing of digital communications will affect even the most effective “professional” blogger. And you’re certainly effective Heather. You’re naturally funny. You’re very observant and reflective. You have more than enough of “a way with words” to come off well in print. And you’re as open with your life as anyone could be expected to be online. All these traits make you a good writer, and an entertaining one. Even though I got a welcome and interesting look inside Steven King and his life when he wrote the book On Writing, I never expected to know everything about him and the people surrounding him. The problem with the net is that a certain part of the population is never going to be satisfied with anything you say, how much you say, or how you justify anything that you say. Most people write these people off as “trolls,” and no doubt, it’s an unfortunate evil of modern communication that anyone who has access to the net has an implicit opportunity to spew out any opinion that they want. In previous times, that person just watched television and bitched to themselves or anyone within earshot. Cranky and/or opinionated magazine readers had maybe half a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a letter printed in the “To The Editor” column of the next issue. Maybe they just yelled at their cow or flipped the bird at anyone who would look in their direction. Most online commenters aren’t mature enough to have a civil conversation about anything, and they certainly can’t seem to do what they’ve never been able to do before either in traditional book, newsprint, movie, or TV channels and just take the response of “if you don’t like what you’re reading, just change the URL.” You don’t owe any of us anything other than just being yourself. If we find you entertaining and/or informative, most of us will always be around. If that’s not the case, we won’t. Pretty simple I know, but that’s the way it should be. Personally, I find you more interesting knowing that you have normal periods of everything we all experience, from relationship turmoil to life fatigue or writers’ block. But I still don’t need to know everything about you to enjoy the experience. I don’t know everything about the people in my personal life, and like Kathryn Humphreys said earlier, I don’t tell you everything either. From my perspective, you’re doing just fine.

  • I’m here because of this exact post. This exact insight. You’re doing great. Maybe some readers will leave. that’s o.k New ones will come.

  • lifeintheshwa

    This post title would work save for the “owe” part – I read the content of someone’s website because I enjoy it, but I don’t by extension determine what they choose to say, or, conversely not say. Aside from any kind of contractual obligations I wouldn’t know about you don’t owe your readers anything.

  • Mary

    Actually, probably many of us don’t care about the details of your personal life. I just really care about Chuck and his well being.

    Good luck.

  • chuck

    keep doing what you’re doing, dooce. keep getting up in the morning and keep going thru your day. you have a big rooting section even though you may not feel it. Oh, and i am really really impressed that your children will not learn about how your marriage to their father, “went off the rails.” I am especially proud of you for that.

  • Lauren

    You’re right – you don’t owe internet strangers any of the details of your personal life. But here’s the thing. Your business has been built on sharing your perspective on your life, not every deep detail of it. Sharing the view from where you sit. And I think that’s where I lost you. It doesn’t seem as though you share anything anymore. What is it like finding a new life? How are the kids adjusting? What trepidation have you had / what are your thoughts on introducing a new person into the family (either when or if that happens)? What is it like co-parenting? How are you working as team with the girls? Specifics and details can (and, frankly, should) be kept private while still sharing with the masses how it makes a person feel when they’re experiencing a new life situation or perspective. I miss that about your writing.
    I know that when my friends are here and we’re sharing a glass of wine on the couch, we’re not discussing the deep details of our marriages or our insecurities or our deepest thoughts. But we do share how we feel about certain things. We invite each other in, just a little bit, to find that relate-able connection. Maybe that’s where I’ve lost you – I don’t feel like I can relate to you anymore. But I’d like to – I’ve been reading you for about 7 years and I miss the way you would write about your observations on life.

    None of this is meant as critical – honestly. I wish you happiness and joy and a new life where you feel content and satisfied. I’ll still stop by to see Marlo’s dimples and Leta’s summer reading list. I hope to find a little shred of what Heather’s up to, too, beyond vague “14 projects” and “trips for work.”
    Please share the view from where you sit.

  • Lydia

    I love you Heather. Just that. I don’t owe you that, but here I am. You’ve helped me through my own PPD and parenting struggles (read: learning not to strangle my 3 year old). I like to think of running into you somewhere and having a glass of wine (or five) with you. Thanks nice lady for sharing so much.

  • laura h

    And then I realized I left out a whole part of the joke and DUCK SEPTEMBER. (Thank you, iPhone, for giving me a kid-friendly, adult-understood alternative to the F-bomb.)

    Knock knock. Who’s there? To. To who? It’s ‘whom’, you idiot. // Did THAT make you smile?

    I’m a forgetful person by nature so sometimes I forget that this place is a thing but when I remember? WHEN I REMEMBER: I am filled — just a bit — with the hope of a better tomorrow. Because I’m not the only one. And it isn’t crazy. It’s just September. And life, really.

  • Mark Scimemi

    I come here because I like you or at least I like the you I see in your writing. If you need some thing ask us. I wish there was something that could be said that would let you know what we all know. That you will be okay and people suck.

  • Kate

    If it makes you feel better, I desperately wanted to be named Pamela when I was little.

  • Andi

    you dont owe us anything. I come here because you make me laugh, chuck makes me laugh, and as I journeyed the hazard of my own divorce, I was less alone in something few understand. Your happiness and that of your family is what matters. Your sharing changes people for the better and those of us who care, care no matter what you choose to share. we’ll be here, dont listen to the haters.

  • greenkat13

    Dooce is the only blog that has ever stayed in my favorites list for more than a couple months. Period. I read you because you are funny, authentic, and fascinating. You are entitled to evolve. Take as much time as you need to become your next iteration, but know that I wait with bated breath because I love you. Unconditionally. And to paraphrase George RR Martin, “you aren’t our bitch!”

  • Saxyduck

    Hi. I have enjoyed reading your blog for several years but never commented. However, I am so disappointed to hear that so many are trying to make you feel like you owe your readers every detail of your life. Not true. You have beautiful children and four-legged children who depend on you and, with all on your plate, I think you manage quite well. Good or bad, you are still entitled to your privacy.

    I enjoy your writing and your photos and your beautiful family and “having a seat at your table.” I do hope that, as life begins to get better for you, it gets easier to “be the duck” and let the words of the haters fall right off your back and away. Just remember the words of Dory, from Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming.”

  • Shannon

    man, you don’t owe us anything except what you are willing to divulge. and no one can be funny everyday, (except maybe chuck) you’re human and you choose to share some of your life with us. it’s ok. perhaps in this one way street here, these encouraging words of support are what we owe YOU. it is september after all. backfloat if you need to.

  • Lynn T

    My comment isn’t necessarily for Heather, it’s for the readers of her blog who ask her to reveal more of her private life, who continually take, but do not give. Any time that Heather had faced a speed bump in her life, I’ve always felt it is then that we as long-time readers of her blog,give HER some support.
    I too have depression issues & panic disorder. I understand how life feels sometimes.
    Perhaps that’s the problem…it’s those that don’t know what it’s like that are always taking.Maybe this is the wrong place for them.
    All I DO know is… it’s time for us, her readers to give HER some support & understanding…. most of all, respect. Is it not what you would want for yourself if you were in the same position in your life.
    It’s time to give fellow readers. Show our gratitude for a very talented and brave woman.
    Hoping for you all the best, Heather.

  • Karla

    Never going anywhere, H. We don’t need everything. We just need you. On your terms. Thank you for that. Take the time you need.

  • Jessica McCoy

    I think it was gracious and vulnerable for you to post a response at all.

    Nothing is owed to us. As the general consensus of that thread went, while people *are* curious and more likely than not were drawn into dooce because of personal writing, you certainly have a right to learn from your experiences, establish personal boundaries, and create whatever content you wants. The choice to read is (and has always been) entirely up to us.

  • Gloria

    If you no longer plan to write about your life, what, exactly, do you plan on writing about?

  • Julia

    Heather, you don’t owe us anything. Reading your blog is a privilege you grant us by letting us into your life each day. Don’t worry about the critics. Live your life and find what makes you happy each day. That’s all that matters. That’s all that will ever matter.

  • Gail Wix

    I lost my sister last Nov.. Not supposed to happen when she is 6 yrs younger, even if she is well into her 60’s. I have a friend who says the 2nd year gets easier. I hope she’s right, for both of us.

  • Sandy

    You’re a person like us. Problems, good times, craziness. It is what it is.

  • Kim Rowell

    I am thankful for your honesty, your excellent writing ability, and your maturity in keeping things that should be private, private. I struggle with depression, too, and know exactly what you mean when you say everything seems to be wrong, and it is all you can do to get from one day to the next. I pray that better days are ahead for you very soon.

  • Steph

    I never post comments, and I’m not a member of DoCo, but you were here for me when I was lost and lonely and far from my family…and you made me laugh. And you’ve made me tear up, but only because you capture so, so well what it means to be human in this world. Thanks for that. I’m about to start a new adventure, again far from my family, again probably feeling a little bit lost and alone. That’s part of this life, the cycles. I’ll be reading.

  • PandoraHasABox

    As I said in the thread in question, bloggers owe their readers nothing. In my personal experience, you have done more to give and to help and to enlighten than most bloggers, not to mention most people. It’s really easy for readers, who have intimacy with the blogger but separation by a screen, to come in and criticize. We’re mostly funny names and avatars of cats. We have far more anonymity than you do, and yet we demand that you show us every aspect of your life, right down to the poops in the toilet.

    That is unfair and ungracious of us. Collective “us” because even I will be more than willing to admit that I’m curious about the details. It’s always interesting to sit down on the couch, drink some wine, and hear the beans as they spill. It’s human nature to have that interest. We can’t deny it.

    However, and this is a however that is said with love, there is probably a way that you could give us more intimate glimpses of your life without divulging too many details. You could. This is the other caveat, though, which is that even if you were do give us more details, there’d always be a contingent howling for more. Clearly that contingent, with its ravenous maw, will never be satisfied. Therefore, write to please yourself, and your readers will either understand or they won’t. Hopefully they will. Peace and love to you and yours.

  • Renu

    Heather, I still remember when a friend shared your blog on Facebook… you were baking cookies and all your daughter wanted to do was shake the sprinkles. I was immediately struck by your indelible humor and even more so, your honesty. I kept reading. More recently, a friend of mine had her first baby, a baby Rambo-esque little girl, and I immediately sent her a link to your blog. Because you’re human, and real, and sometimes life gets messy and hard, but I think that’s why I keep coming back. Because you write about that, and about the good days, and about the days when life is overwhelming and about how good it feels when the dust settles and you are able to breathe easy again. I am currently awaiting a double lung transplant, and the honesty in your writing has gotten me through many a slow, monotonous hospital day. Thank you for that, and for continuing to share your stories. I hope that you are able to continue to take it day by day, or if that seems like too much, than hour by hour. Sending love from the east coast!

  • Darstar

    Heather don’t even fret about this stuff!! Remember, we read this blog whenever we want for free. It’s your business what you’re going to share. This is good entertainment and I’m gonna keep picking up whatever you’re laying down.

  • Kimberly Wydeen

    I will admit that I’ve wondered a time or two about what happened leading up to your divorce. I think it is human nature to wonder about such a thing, but I always assumed that if you wanted to share the details you would.

    I also think that a lot of critics seem to be speaking out of both sides of their mouth. On one hand, they say that you are doing a disservice to your children by broadcasting so much of their lives on your website. On the other hand, they say you do not broadcast enough of your marriage, divorce, and how the kids are coping on your website.

  • G Davis

    I kind of want to know about the 4th grade homework though? Oh, wait…you said math homework. I was told that there would be no math on this blog. Never mind. Also, sending good thoughts your way!

  • Breanne

    I don’t agree that the explanation was overdue (because I don’t think anything was due to us readers), but I do agree with the statement about the “little things.” I mean, I need to know that Leta found a real (not real) hand in the woods.

  • Kimberly Ann Hawley

    {{hugs}} Thanks for allowing me a place at your table. Hang in there. I will. 🙂

  • BT

    I think if you’ve reached a point where you no longer want to share the details of your life, and the content you’re generating has become mundane and vague, you have to ask yourself why you’re still doing this. Maybe it’s time to think about writing something else – if you don’t want to write about your life, then it’s probably time to do something that isn’t writing a blog about your life. As a long time reader, the blog has become basically just photos of your kids and dogs. I’ll still read, and I don’t blame you for keeping your stuff private, but it’s also kind of at odds with what you set out to do on Dooce. This is a rule in my own professional life – when it gets boring, move on to something new. And the Dooce that isn’t personal is boring. That’s just how it goes with blogs. Of course, you have to support those lovely dogs and kids, and this site does it handily, so I can understand also why you keep it on life support.

  • Thank you for still telling the stories that you can.

    This time of year kicks my ass. Ironically, you are the reason I know why…and for that I am grateful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Candice

    Is it John Lennon who said that, “Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.” It’s on one of those square quotable cards. It is my go-to new-baby card. I think it applies here. And, for what it’s worth, I never really wondered about any of those things – I think the old fashioned expression for it is ‘boundaries.’ Keep your head up and your heart open.

  • LMW

    I started reading the day Marlo was born, and have read every day since, as well as quite a hefty chunk of the archives. My kids are similar ages, and I struggle with depression. Like so many others I was attracted to your honesty, your humour, and your take on life’s curveballs (“SHINGLES!!”). You owe me nothing, and I felt sometimes as though I owe you lots.
    I’ve been reading GOMI too. I’ve actually found a couple new blogs I quite like thanks to their snarking. I found myself agreeing with some comments in some forums and utterly baffled at others (I don’t get the concept of hate-reading, I guess. Or nasty gossiping).
    I didn’t notice posts being “light” around here. Like everyone else, I was really sad about the divorce. What struck me as odd was how fine everything seemed until it suddenly wasn’t. Suddenly it was like there was Dooce and there was Heather, and they weren’t the same people. Someone else commented how it felt like we got divorced too, and I know that’s how I felt. I was really actually heartbroken- not that you arent sharing more details about the split or have a boyfriend, but that after years of sharing what seemed like everything, you had airbrushed/omitted some big things. And of course that’s stupid, you have to maintain some privacy. And of course even if you’d said ‘things aren’t as great as I may have led you to believe’ there would be a clamour for more detail. But I think a lot of readers felt duped, and in the absence of the real story people have started creating their own. I think a lot of people feel angry. They can, that’s fine. You keep your head above water and write what you feel you can.

  • Lisa Gawehn

    I am curious, it’s human, but it’s not why I am here, have been here and will be here. I went through a divorce a few years back and I respect your decision to have the class to be silent when so many don’t and regret it. I chose to keep it dignified regardless of what happened. I felt it was still between he and I, even though he probably didn’t deserve it. 😉 So, well said! Looking forward to your future posts.

  • Dee

    I never comment I always read
    Thanks – you didn’t “owe” is that but thank you for it. No matter how much or little you writes I respect you are a good writer and a smart woman and a caring mother .

  • Dee

    Omg write not writes and is not is

  • Marianne

    Big hugs…

  • Lauren3

    Heather, my heart aches because I’ve seen enough of your video interviews that I can picture you saying these words. And I know you’re hurt. You’ve done so much for me, and for others. You inspired me to get off my ass and change careers. (I’m going to send you another email update on that soon.) You’ve taught me about dealing with my own mental health and that of my boyfriend and friends. You’ve gotten me through boring days at work. You’ve given me insight and inspiration. You are a wonderful person. You are doing a fantastic job. And all you have to do is keep writing for me and for the other people who recognize that. Much love to you. I mean, damn.

  • Bookworm9798

    Hoping it gets better for you, Heather.

  • Miss Baltimore

    Here’s the thing: I don’t live in Utah, don’t work in new media or know anything about webdesign. I don’t have children or furry dogs, I don’t do math homework and my mother is not the Avon World Sales Leader. I never had depression or a raccoon in the chimney, I don’t have brothers or an assistant called Tirant.

    But despite all of this I RELATE to you more than anybody else I had the pleasure to meet. Keep writing. You are amazing.

  • You don’t owe us anything. Sure, people are curious about your life, but there are plenty of people who blog the details of every minute of their day. That’s not why I come to your site. I come to see what’s the latest Chuck/Coco picture or a random shot of your kids doing something silly or cute, and the short story that goes behind it. And it’s enough for me to actually click out of feedly and come to your actual site. I don’t think I would be as forthcoming as you are, if I were in your place. <3

  • Juana Olga Barrios

    You are STRONG. You are BEAUTIFUL. You are REAL. And you are RIGHT. You owe us nothing, and you’ve given us a lot already so do your thing. I am grateful for whatever insights you offer me and for making me laugh out loud and for teaching me a thing or two about character and integrity. NAMASTE, Sista!

  • evilminion

    Oh god, you haven’t been reading GOMI again, have you?

  • Meg

    The line from the RSS feed, “This blog used to be so much better when a) I was single b) I was married c) never” reminds me of trying to get a new prescription from the ophthalmologist and the insistence that one option is better than the other (when will they understand that both options are bad in their own ways? why isn’t there a better way of getting glasses? it’s 2013!).

    If you need more blog posts, I can’t ask loudly enough for Tyrant and/or Dane to guest post! Especially Dane. He can do fancy-pants visual tours of Utah’s scenery/landscape/parks/natural wonders/every dog he sees. Or just take videos of Coco, really.

    I think my perspective is more accepting of less disclosure on your part because I’m gay. I’ve spent so much of my life carefully curating the parts of it I share with people — sure, I’m out, and have been since shortly before I turned 16, but teachers and employers and older relatives and landlords have always gotten a selective version of me. Now, with non-discrimation laws spreading, that’s not so much the case, but I’m used to thinking that people are not revealing everything, especially about romantic relationships.

  • nicola

    Maybe, just maybe, it’s time you stopped giving a shit about all of us and instead just gave a shit about you…maybe it’s just time for that. : ) I’m one of the ones who misses you but if you really love something you let it go. Go forth, take care of yourself. : )

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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