the smell of my desperation has become a stench

When in Utah

Last month while driving from my friend’s Carol’s house in Minneapolis to the cabin in Wisconsin, she regaled me with odd tales about every town we passed and at one point stopped mid sentence while looking out the window at a vast and rolling field, shook her head in disgust and said, “That corn is pathetic.”

Never did I think I would find myself in a conversation where that sentence would come into play, but then again, I’d never been in Wisconsin. Apparently people in Wisconsin have strong opinions about corn stalks.


A small branch of my bank sits in a square corner at the front of the grocery store I frequent. This grocery store also happens to be located directly above my gym. Oh, quick aside. I’m pretty sure I wrote about this here, but just in case I didn’t: one morning I finished a few miles on the treadmill, headed directly upstairs to deposit a check and then came home to an email that said, “I saw you at the grocery store and wanted to introduce myself but you looked pretty gross and I thought you’d be embarrassed.”

Mommyblogging is fun.

A few days ago I was standing in line at the bank waiting to transfer some money when a woman with two boys strolled by in one of those carts that looks like a car. She stopped to inspect some limes which sat in a display just outside the bank when suddenly one of the boys started screaming. And it wasn’t an “I’m hurting very badly please fix it” type of scream. No. Not at all. It was an “I would very much like to fuck with your life and cause you as much pain as I possibly can” type of scream. There’s a huge difference between the two and the latter will make you understand why someone could bring themselves to put an infant Moses in a basket and shove it down a river.

She asked him very patiently to calm down, but that only strengthened his resolve. The screaming got louder and more bitter. In fact, it was piercing, and the three young bank tellers attending to customers all squirmed in their seats. This continued for about 20 very long and uncomfortable seconds when the woman finally gave up and headed toward the entrance of the store. I was conflicted about what I should do. If I tried to help her would she think I was judging her? Would it embarrass her more? But more importantly, would she hand me the kid and make a run for it?

Not a minute later I was standing across from a teller, a young girl with lovely brunette curls ending at her jawline. Everyone was still on edge, especially her, so I set down my checkbook and said, “You know, I’m just relieved it wasn’t one of my kids BECAUSE IT TOTALLY COULD HAVE BEEN.”


Yes. We have discussed this before. I speak in all caps when it is required.

Her shoulders relaxed immediately.

“Yeah?” she said more than asked. “Because that kind of makes me glad that I’ve waited so long to think about having kids.”

“Oh, you can wait,” I assured her. “Trust me. Travel, sleep, travel some more, sleep some more. Nap. You should definitely get in some naps.”

“I always worry that I’ve waited too long,” she said as she glanced at the account number on the back of my check. “How old were you when you had your first?”

“I was just about to turn 30,” I answered. “And ten years later I’m still dazed.”

“OH!” she gasped. “30?! WOW! Well then, I have plenty of time!”

Hm… plenty of time. Hm… hmmmm… Suddenly I was a 19-year-old sophomore at BYU who rented an apartment next door to a successful and single 24-year-old. All my friends and I were like, what is wrong with her? What horrible thing has she done? She was beautiful and smart and everything you could ever want in an eternal companion. WHY DIDN’T SHE HAVE KIDS YET?

“How old are you?” I asked the teller.

“I’m 22.”

That number reverberated through the empty caverns in my brain caused by the knocks and punches and kicks to the head that accompany years of childrearing.

You may never think that you’re going to hear a 22-year-old girl express serious concern that she has waited too long to have children, but then, maybe you’ve never been to Utah.



  • Kirsten

    2014/08/07 at 2:03 pm

    Hahahahaha…try having your 2nd one at 40 in Utah. And being (visibly) pregnant at the grocery store with your 5-year-old in tow and having the nice grandfatherly man ask said 5-year-old if she’s being a big help to grandmommy. And the 5-year-old looks at me with big eyes to see what to say. I smiled sweetly and said “why yes, she sure is!”

  • Breanne

    2014/08/07 at 2:41 pm

    I felt pressure to be married and have kids in my early 20s, but it was my (mostly) own internal pressure (let’s not discuss how I’m about to turn 30 and still haven’t even gotten married). I find great relief when someone tells me they got married later or had kids later and everything was just fine.

  • Vanessa

    2014/08/07 at 3:57 pm

    Dear God. I just turned 30 and I’m still pondering the whole “children as a possibility” game….I just don’t know if I’m old enough. Maybe 40? Yeah, maybe 40.

  • T

    2014/08/07 at 5:07 pm

    Thank god I live in Chicago! 39 and truly trying for the first time ever.

  • Raquel

    2014/08/07 at 5:17 pm

    I had my first at 34 and then waited another 5 years before the next one. So yeah, I’m an ancient mom–well into my 50s and the youngest is just starting high school. I can’t imagine having done it differently.

  • Kelli

    2014/08/07 at 5:24 pm

    I didn’t get married until I was 38 and had our beautiful, healthy little girl at 41 1/2 (I throw in the half to make it even more dramatic). We had our 10 year anniversary this year and our little girl just turned 7. Don’t rush anything…things happen when/if they’re suppose to happen.

  • Teal

    2014/08/07 at 7:31 pm

    My mom didn’t start having kids until she was 30. She had me (the youngest) at 36, and her doctor told her she was in her child-bearing prime. But then again, it was the 80’s.

  • susanfishy

    2014/08/07 at 7:46 pm

    Keep in mind, the grandfatherly man could have been 36. 😉

  • jo

    2014/08/07 at 9:03 pm

    Growing up in Utah, I can attest that not all people are like that, but they do exist. However, it is a fact that having children at the age of modern society has its’ challenges. Just because the rich and famous can have children via surrogacy and other means, doesn’t change the fact that there is indeed a biological clock. 22 is not pushing the envelope generally, but each person has unique physiological circumstances. 🙂

  • Heather

    2014/08/08 at 6:50 am

    So thankful for all of the comments here. I feel like SC might be similar to Utah. We just moved here. I have had to say the following more than once: “yes, I’m 34, married, no children, and no I am not infertile”.

  • Susan

    2014/08/08 at 8:42 am

    Here in DC, everyone waits so long that it’s strange to see a woman in her 20s who is pregnant. “That poor girl,” we think. “I wonder what her parents said.” And then we remember — oh right! It’s perfectly normal for most of the world!

  • Summermom

    2014/08/08 at 9:31 am

    I had my fifth and last one on my 40th birthday, almost at the same minute I was born too. So it’s easy to remember how old she is. It’s easy for my husband to take care of birthdays. 2 different cakes too. I wonder how rare it is to give birth on your 40th.

  • Maggie

    2014/08/08 at 2:44 pm

    Being from Wisconsin, I can confirm that we do, in fact, have conversations about corn. And I’m from Milwaukee. What do I know about corn growing? One thing…Knee high by the 4th. That’s the only farming rule I know, but I hear people say it every summer. And thank you for all your lovely comments about our state. I was “up north” (near where you were) for the first time this summer. It really is quite an experience!

  • familyfishbowl

    2014/08/08 at 11:55 pm

    SO TRUE. Several years ago, when we’d first moved here from San Diego, I was in line somewhere and someone asked the girl in front of me what year she was born. My quick math told me that she was 18 years old. Her left ring finger was sporting one of the biggest diamond engagement rings I’d ever seen. I think I actually picked my jaw off the floor and put it back where it belonged.

  • Q

    2014/08/10 at 7:50 am

    Oh yes, I can relate. When I was 24, I moved cross country for a nice new career type job. The company had flown me out for an interview. Then put me up in an apartment for a month while I looked for a place. Gave me a signing bonus. Pride. I started attending the singles ward, which had a lot of nannies around 18-19. One girl said to me, “if I’m not married by the time I’m 20, I’m going to kill myself.” I looked at her and said, “I’m 24.” The look of pity on her face made me uncomfortable. What? So that’s all we are? No good if we’re not married? We’re just a vessel for breeding babies as soon as possible?

    No. Just no.

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