Heater, Mother of Lance

Oh, you bet I was called in my youth

Catching up from December has proven a little bumpy, all of it compounded by an inordinate amount of conference calls and the fact that Marlo is waking up much earlier than normal. She figured out how to unchain her ankles from the bed, so I’ve got to come up with a another solution. I’m open to any suggestions, even if it includes a cage or an electric fence.

My mother noticed the fatigue in my voice during our nightly phone calls and offered to take the girls on Sunday for several hours so that I could work in some “me” time. She suggested I climb back into bed or watch a few hours of TV, and I gave her a total stink eye. Go back to bed? Does she not realize who my mother is? Because when she does find out she’s going to realize how dumb that suggestion was.

My mind raced with the possibilities of what I could do with those several hours, and maybe this is middle age but I started by doing the first of three loads of laundry. And then I cleaned the kitchen and living room. After I took the dogs for an hour-long walk, I organized two junk drawers, the pantry and the refrigerator. I so desperately wanted to see clean surfaces and cans lined up in neat little rows, containers of pens separated from the paperclips that had been lazily dumped beside them. Kids are constantly surrounded by a cloud of swirling junk, and if you don’t want to turn into a person who spends quality “me” time by folding other people’s clothes, there’s this little thing called abstinence.

I did happen to pass a mirror while running around rearranging things and thought, who is that homeless person and what is she doing in my house? I had a few hours left of my afternoon so I decided to take a quick shower and then head out to get a desperately needed manicure and pedicure, something most people would consider quality time, right? A total indulgence. All of my fingernails were chipped and catching on my clothes, and the soles of my feet were cracking from the cold, dry air of winter. I would sit in that chair, I thought, close my eyes and take 1,400 deep breaths.


The? What? OH COME ON. And not just your regular Mormon hymns, no. Songs they teach specifically to kids and teenagers. Songs I know every goddamn word to:

We are as the army of Helaman
We have been taught in our youth
And we will be the Lord’s missionaries
To bring the world his truth

That’s right. Let that video and song sink in. Because while I was supposed to be relaxing and enjoying some “me” time like normal people do I WAS SINGING THE SONG IN MY HEAD. It was automatic. Involuntary. Instinctive. MADDENING.

This continued the entire time I was there. Mormon song after mormon song that I knew every single word to, that I couldn’t stop singing along to in my head. I won’t embed them all here, but the Mormons and former Mormons among you will recognize the following:

“I Am A Child of God”
“Teach Me to Walk in the Light”
“Love is Spoken Here”
“I Love to See the Temple”
“I Know My Father Lives”

It brought back all these traumatizing memories from my childhood when I would think of something “dirty” like two people kissing or hearing the word dam and trying not to think of it as “damn” in my head. I may as well have been a murderer, certain that I’d just ruined my eternal salvation.

When my nails dried and I waited for the pedicure to end I texted my mother: “You took my kids so that I could have some ‘me’ time and I’m at a nail salon WHERE THEY ARE PLAYING ‘WE ARE AS THE ARMY OF HELAMAN’”


She responded with a winking emoji and something about there really being a god. If there is, Mom, the dude is into torture. Not cool.

  • Kathryn

    2015/01/14 at 2:53 pm

    they play Sex and the City reruns at my nail salon – but then we are all HEATHENS up in Vancouver, so …

  • KatR

    2015/01/14 at 3:03 pm

    I once had a church song so viciously stuck in my head that I had to listen to “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga on a continuous loop for two days straight to get rid of it.

  • Kelly Severs

    2015/01/14 at 3:12 pm

    Growing up as an evangelical Christian now living in sin as a gay woman in Boston, I tell you: Mormon, not Mormon, there are certain songs that will haunt you for the rest of your life. Embrace them, change the lyrics to something fairly obscene, and you will own that nail salon.

  • Tiffany Jefferson

    2015/01/14 at 3:14 pm

    I grew up in the Mormon Church, too. The songs that always come creeping back to me are ‘Book of Mormon stories that my teacher tells to me, Are about the Lamanites in ancient history” and “Popcorn popping on the apricot tree”.

  • Joyce Novacek

    2015/01/14 at 3:23 pm

    Haha!! My nail salon is all for HGTV. Makes me wish there were bars with 100% HGTV, because I could pretty much watch that stuff all day 🙂

    I had one close Mormon friend growing up in Pittsburgh, he moved to Utah to attend BYU and got married, but, although I never knew these songs, I can totally picture him singing them.

  • crooked teeth

    2015/01/14 at 3:26 pm

    So purrty!

  • Tracey

    2015/01/14 at 3:42 pm

    Mine too! I love it!

  • santa barbara

    2015/01/14 at 5:03 pm

    Before I became all apostatized, I was Primary chorister. Those are memories I fiercely block. It does no good.

  • joanlvh

    2015/01/14 at 6:30 pm

    hope your Mom is doing well!

  • readiness

    2015/01/14 at 9:33 pm

    Oh man. “Are you washed in the blood” is one of mine…

  • dc

    2015/01/15 at 3:29 am

    i went to my nail salon and they have huge tv’s that can be seen from every angle. they had all of the tv’s tuned to the food channel. now normally that would be fine. i like food, love food, really. but this day and time the food channel was showing exotic food from other countries. like “How to Cook and Season and Eat Your Guinea Pig.” Seriously? ugh…disgusting.

  • ebellit

    2015/01/15 at 8:44 am

    YOU FOUND A NAIL SALON IN SLC THAT’S OPEN ON SUNDAY!?!?!? That’s what I find amazing about this.

  • issascrazyworld

    2015/01/15 at 9:36 am

    It is a sad thing when you realize that organizing something has become a fun thing to do. Or that going to Target without children is like a vacation. I believe I have two childfree hours this weekend and I’m contemplating what all I can get done in that amount of time. 20 year old me is probably weeping at my life right now, but I kinda dig it.

  • Bethany

    2015/01/15 at 10:00 am

    Where did you get your bracelets? ! Love!!

  • HT

    2015/01/15 at 10:20 am

    you had me until “I kinda dig it” 😉

  • Heather Armstrong

    2015/01/15 at 10:52 am

    I think that’s maybe why they were playing the hymns? Maybe they felt guilty that they were open and working on Sunday and not in church. UTAH IS SO WEIRD.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2015/01/15 at 10:53 am

    She’s doing phenomenally well, thank you. Her recovery has been amazing, and she inspires me daily with her energy and positivity.

  • ebellit

    2015/01/15 at 11:13 am

    Any chance you can share the love, and the name of the nail salon? Always seems I have the spare time for a mani-pedi on Sunday, but nowhere to go!

  • KatR

    2015/01/15 at 11:14 am

    Then there are those you don’t even have to change, like “Rise Up O Men Of God”.

  • Marie McDowell

    2015/01/15 at 11:17 am

    Pretty sure her bracelets are hair ties. I love those!

  • Heidi

    2015/01/15 at 12:33 pm

    To me, it’s not the organizing/cleaning/rearranging that is satisfying. To me, it’s the fact that everything is organized/clean/arranged when my child comes back home that is so satisfying… and even fun.

  • mjbutah

    2015/01/15 at 1:59 pm

    JC Nails in Murray is where I go. They are open on Sundays, that is how I found them.

  • Carla

    2015/01/15 at 4:41 pm

    I’d rather have Mormon songs stuck in my head than Devo’s Whip It on 8-track.

  • Jen Moore

    2015/01/16 at 11:04 am

    She definitely owes you another kid free afternoon–the stress alone from that song and the flashback to youth–you might guilt her with an ENTIRE weekend of alone time to fold laundry. 🙂

  • Lee

    2015/01/16 at 11:17 am

    “Jesuswantsmefora sun BEEEEAAAAMMM!”

    (personally, hate manicures. give me a good hair wash and scalp massage any time, though.)

  • Lee

    2015/01/16 at 11:18 am

    Glad she is doing well. I bet you and your girls inspire her, too.

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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