the smell of my desperation has become a stench

To Grandmommy’s house they went

I got home Sunday night at about 5PM just as my mother was pulling into the driveway with both girls. She had watched them while I was in Atlanta, two days here because they had school, and then two days at her house. Marlo was fast asleep in the backseat which thwarted my plans to swing open the car door, shove my face nose-to-nose with hers and scream, “BOOGER,” the usual way I greet everyone in public.

But seriously, when your kid is coming home from having spent that much time with the Avon World Sales Leader, you can try to get all cozy and hope that they will jump into your arms. But then you’re going to need to take up your disappointment with your therapist. Because no kid wants to leave the Avon World Sales Leader. In fact, if anyone is watching and has no idea what is going on they will call the police. Your child will be hysterical, they will kick and scream, and yelling BOOGER in their face is a great way to flip the bird without actually being crass.

Oh, wait. Is booger crass? I could think of a whole lot of other words I could scream. I bet you, could, too. But we don’t because we are so much more mature than that.

My mother brought her inside, and after clinging to her leg for several minutes Marlo finally relented and ran to give me a hug. It was everything I had hoped for having missed her so immensely. That’s the thing about kids and how awful they are. She woke me up at 4 AM last Tuesday and I never went back to sleep, right? I didn’t recover from that for a few days because I’m not 20 years old anymore. In fact, I ached and moaned and splashed water in my face to make it through the next day, and then the following night I didn’t sleep because my brain kept telling me it might happen again. YOU NEVER KNOW. Was it a one time thing? Or is this a phase that will last at least seven months and need to be treated by a doctor and/or pharmaceuticals?

But the moment I left on Thursday morning to get on a plane I missed her to the point of physically aching. Which, in turn made me angry which in turn made me feel guilty which in turn made me anxious which in turn is exactly what Tourette’s looks like.

My mom didn’t stay long because she was headed out early yesterday morning for a trip of her own, and here’s where I once again thank her for her generosity. I could not do this job without her. She is so wonderful with my kids and I never have to worry about them when they are with her. I know they are getting more than what they need. In fact, they are learning all sorts about biblical themes like gluttony and greed: ice cream for breakfast, shopping trips for sequined shoes, second-hand purses filled with silver dollars that they have not earned.

“A grandparent’s job is to spoil their grandchildren BLAH BLAH BLAH WAHHHHHH.” That excuse is going to fall on deaf ears at the judgment bar of God, MOTHER.


As she was giving me the details of their stay, how they slept and ate and played various games with their cousins, she turned to Marlo and said, “Should we tell mommy what we did?”

Marlo stiffened up like a solid piece of wood, slowly shook her head and said, “That’s a secret!”

Oh, dear lord. What on earth. Sky is the limit with those two. They are bandits, my mother and Marlo. Did she have her secretly baptized? Because I know this doesn’t involve illegal substances ALTHOUGH I WOULD PREFER THAT SCENARIO.

“What did you two do?” I asked, my hands on my hips.

My mother kneeled down next to Marlo and said, “I think you should tell her.”

Marlo grinned and her shoulders started to undulate in rhythm to her giggles. I tapped my foot impatiently until she finally blurted, “WE SLEPT IN YOUR BED.”

You. Did. What. Call the poh-leece.

“Listen,” my mother began to explain. “I’d had a really long day and when it was bedtime she was begging to sleep with me and, well, your bed is king-sized and that made the most sense and I wasn’t about to deny her.”

Um, HELLO. Kids were born TO BE DENIED. My mom would get that kid a Rolex if she asked for one, and to make it even more special she’d have it delivered on the horn of a purple unicorn.

“You did explain to her that it was a one-time deal, correct?” I asked. “She does know that she doesn’t get to sleep in my bed going forward, right?”

“Oh, yes,” my mother tried to convince me. “It was our special secret. She knows you’re too mean to let her sleep there.”

Fine by me. My wise friend Karen once said something like this: one secret to effective parenting is to have your kids thinking that you might be just a tiny bit crazy.

If my kid knows that I won’t budge and while I’m not budging my right eyebrow is arching maniacally, we’re all good.

  • Amy K

    2014/05/06 at 10:22 am

    I remember my sleepovers at Grandma’s house — she always used to let us wear one of her turtle necks to bed (weird that we requested that).

  • Carin Sweerman

    2014/05/06 at 10:26 am

    The AWSL is right, you know – grandparents (and aunties) get to spoil – your turn will come some day and you will feel the exact same way. My grandparents were an ocean away so we saw them infrequently, but I still treasure the memories my grandfather gave us with his wonderful walks and trips to the U-Totem for Slurpees (much to my mother’s displeasure lol). Your mother is making wonderful memories for your two girls and I know you’ll never admit it, but I’ll just bet you’re secretly very happy about that 🙂

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/05/06 at 10:32 am

    I don’t know why but that hit my funny bone so hard. I am laughing out loud.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/05/06 at 10:33 am

    Time with my mother is the best gift I’ve ever given them. 🙂

  • Casey

    2014/05/06 at 10:35 am

    That’s almost as bad as getting her baptized. FOR REALS.

  • dc

    2014/05/06 at 10:38 am

    funny. my son once told his friends, “I’d better ask my mom because when my dad says no there is no getting around it.”

  • Valerie May

    2014/05/06 at 10:44 am

    I am so happy to see that I am not the only one that doesn’t allow children to sleep in my bed unless they’re sick.

  • issascrazyworld

    2014/05/06 at 10:50 am

    Ha. Grandmas rock. Mine was amazing and my mom fits the bill perfectly. My kids favorite place is her house. Sometimes on really bad days I think to myself, I’ll be a great grandma. BUY/DO ALL THE THINGS! Heh.

  • JenniferW2323

    2014/05/06 at 10:52 am

    Great post. Reminds me of when my son was younger, and my Mom was the best thing in the universe. (She still is.)

  • KathyB

    2014/05/06 at 11:24 am

    Nobody spoils better than a grandmother. I called my daughter and my mom The Bookends., Seriously scary sometimes how true that was. But, Ursula got to go spend a week with Grannie in the summer and it was awesome. Marlo will know one day how special this time was. Good Job, Heather.

  • Jen Wilson

    2014/05/06 at 1:00 pm

    Sounds about right with my mother/in-laws and my kids. They don’t want to come home. My mother took my almost-13-year-old on a two-week trip last summer to everywhere in western Canada and spoiled her rotten. They made a scrapbook of their journey and my daughter will treasure their trip for a long time. (Though my 7-year-old is now wondering when she gets to go on a trip with Grannie.)

  • Jaime

    2014/05/06 at 2:41 pm

    So if you can make fun of Tourette’s, can I make fun of dog leash suicide?

  • Katybeth

    2014/05/06 at 2:58 pm

    Your Mom’s a GEM. And it’s wonderful you let her watch your kids her way…Not that your way really matters, of-course. My parents taught my kid that some people eat THREE meals a day at the same time and those meals include more than one food. This is the same Mother that told ME that nice people did NOT eat breakfast. They also let him believe he was a Border Collie and could herd sheep or people while barking and nipping at their heals.—that went over REAL WELL at school. Even a Waldorf school has limits. Via Con Dias.

  • Kim's Kitchen Sink

    2014/05/06 at 7:50 pm

    I loved everything about this.

  • Teal

    2014/05/06 at 8:02 pm

    Whenever I stayed at my grandma’s, I always asked to wear one of her robes because it smelled like her. In fact, she let me have one so I would have something to remember her by when the time came.

  • shuggilippo

    2014/05/06 at 10:56 pm

    Oh my would I prefer a good dunk’n’scrub over the bed-sleeping…

  • TS Mom

    2014/05/06 at 11:51 pm

    You didn’t seriously just make a crack about Tourette Syndrome, did you? Because having a son with TS, I find that kind of ignorant and offensive.

  • Nan

    2014/05/07 at 1:15 am

    “Did she have her secretly baptized? Because I know this doesn’t involve

    I snorted. And I belong to that Church. Thanks for the laugh.

  • Karen Walrond

    2014/05/07 at 7:44 am

    Thanks for the shout-out. Signed, Your Tiny-Bit-Crazy Friend. 😉

  • michael from dadcation

    2014/05/07 at 8:51 am

    My children had their first soft drinks because of a trip out of town that included our leaving them with my parents. I was hoping their first stepping stone to childhood obesity would be much later.

    Enjoyed seeing you again in Atlanta! If Deborah and I come to ALT (she likely will; I might), a “Madonna Off” at the local karaoke bar (if such establishments are permitted in SLC) is in order.

  • Becky

    2014/05/07 at 10:55 am

    “She knows you’re too mean to let her sleep there.”——bwahahahahahaha!!!

  • joanna

    2014/05/07 at 11:03 am

    Always loved staying at my grandparents as well. 🙂 my kids never slept in my bed as well,once that starts its hard to break without a big fuss

  • Carin Sweerman

    2014/05/07 at 1:11 pm

    No, she made a crack about herself. She did not blast or place Tourettes in a bad light. Lighten up a bit – you’ll enjoy life more.


    2014/05/07 at 4:04 pm


  • banga lee

    2014/05/08 at 8:41 am


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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