the smell of my desperation has become a stench

I have wifi on a plane, have not slept in three days, and so this happened

Tuesday? It would have to have been a Tuesday night. Some Tuesday night a few weeks ago. That’s the calmest night of our week, calm meaning not spinning like a top off of the corner of a table into a spiraling abyss of math problems and piano practice and SERIOUSLY. Of course Marlo was the first kid in her class to volunteer to take home the class “pet.” We’d all be rightfully disappointed if she hadn’t because COME ON. There she is, giant pink-rimmed glasses, a dimple possessing the magnitude of a black hole, looking around at the other kids thinking, wait a minute. Our class pet is a stuffed puppy? SIGN HER RIGHT THE FUCK UP. She was going to write checks her body could totally cash. BINGO. JACKPOT. GOLDEN FUCKING TICKET.

Yes, this is one of those Heather posts that will generate email from concerned readers saying, “Are you okay? You seem like you need a break. That thing you wrote was all over the place.”

If what I write is not all over the place then why are you here? For astute political commentary? For comprehensive analysis of post-colonialism in the Middle East? You are here because the ride through my brain is not your mom’s Pinterest board. I am not going to knit you a literary document, you know this. You know that at some point I’m going to mention my butt and how much Leta hates it when I do so.

Here goes the ride, squad. Gather round.

Marlo has more homework than most graduate students. Two pages of writing a night, problem solving on the iPad, math on the computer, and then at least a half hour of reading. So… wait. Oh god, I just realized her teacher is probably going to read this and so is the principal. I was at a gathering on Friday night and at least three people came up to me and said, “How do I know you?” My first answer is always, “I look like Piper from Orange is the New Black. You have me confused with her.” When they go, “No, no, that’s not it,” I say, “Madonna. You think I’m Madonna. Just like a prayer.” And when they go, “No, that’s not it either,” I go, “I write about my butt on the Internet.”


A lot of homework every single night, is what I’m saying, and then she brings home that goddamn stuffed puppy? A stuffed puppy she has to write about in a puppy journal? ARGYLE SOCKS IN A POLKA DOT MUFFIN TIN, MARLO. That is what I said out loud. In my head I said JESUS COLDPLAY CHRIST, KID. Because getting Marlo to write a single solitary letter is not unlike slamming the car door against your head over and over again, bleeding out of your ears and coming right up against death on the floor of the garage.


But, oh guess what, you’ll never guess except you totally will because you know Marlo and Marlo has been sent specifically by the devil to FUCK WITH YOU. That kid wrote page after page after page about that stuffed puppy. She wrote literary documents. Words just poured out of her onto those pages, and I was like, okay. Kids are different and learn things in different ways, so from now on I am going to have a stuffed puppy on my person at all times. While her older sister finishes reading her tenth book in the span of two days.

Which kid do I get to take credit for? BOTH, is who, y’all. Because being a full-time single parent is really fucking hard, and I bang the shit out of making it work. I work so hard at providing everything they need and being every place they need to be and filling every void I can fold myself inside. There is nothing more important to me than those two girls and giving them the emotional foundation they need to enjoy their childhood, to wring it dry of every joke and pun and scooters crashing into the fence, bowls of water lining the porch so that every mermaid Barbie has her own pool, sleepovers that don’t involve much sleep and cinnamon rolls for breakfast, yes, Marlo, you can have the leftover frosting.

IT WAS A TUESDAY NIGHT. Okay, there it is. Why did I sit down to write? Yep. Found it. Are you still here? This is all over the place.

Marlo was tired from all the homework, and so instead of making an early dinner I indulged her. She wanted to watch a movie in my bed at 6 PM, and I was like, why not? Let’s go watch a movie in my bed! These moments are rare and precious, and when she is older she will remember the three of us — just the three of us — there in that house making it work together. Movies in my bed on a school night. Together. Leta downstairs reading another goddamn book. What is it with her and being interesting?

Now I remember. This just suddenly made sense to me, right here as I am writing these words. It was some random movie about gymnastics. That’s why! And we were lying there next to each other when five minutes into the movie I made the tragic mistake of closing my eyes. Momentarily. Except I guess not so momentarily. I was tired from homework, too! All y’all doing the first grade homework are nodding so hard you’re spraining your neck. Hold on, I’ve got some ibuprofen in my purse. We’ll share.

I was asleep for no more than three minutes when suddenly I heard a faint whoosh through the air, and then Marlo’s face landed firmly against my own. NOTE THE WORD LANDED.

I sat up, wiped the sleep from my eyes and watched as she crawled off the side of the bed over to a stool she had moved from my bathroom to the foot of the bed. She then climbed on top of that stool, stuck both arms out from her sides as if showing me that the fish she’d caught was this big, and then hurled herself headfirst into a front flip, landing with her feet on my forehead.

I should mention here that she was wearing a bathing suit.

She had stripped herself of all of her clothing and strapped on a bathing suit IN THE SPAN OF THREE MINUTES. Take into account that she had also moved that stool more than 20 feet in that window of time. And thrown herself into her fourth? fifth? front flip? Who knows? By the time I pieced together what was going on she was flinging herself sideways in a cartwheel motion four feet in the air off of that stool. And landing every time with an elbow or a knee to my face.

Imma take credit for her. Because if those three minutes are not the exact embodiment of this brain ride well then what is, TODD?



  • Kathee

    2015/10/05 at 3:13 pm

    :::snort:::: Two kids. I had four. They made it to adulthood and I didn’t go to the looney bin. I had boys too. Woke up one night as one boy threw the other down the stairs. The only girl I had acted like mom to everyone including me. Football, Dance, Tai kwon do, gymnastics, homework, soccer, baseball, cheer…..I need a nap just thinking about it. Last week my youngest took me to get my colonoscopy. I know, right?

  • kmpinkel

    2015/10/05 at 3:15 pm

    That is a lot of homework for a 1st grader. Mine brings home reading each night and that is it. I’m tired just thinking about it.

  • EducatingJackie

    2015/10/05 at 3:16 pm

    Literally laughing out loud at my desk.

    I have a Marlo too, but mine is a boy.

    They are wonderful, and amazing, and exhausting!

  • Marie McDowell

    2015/10/05 at 3:17 pm

    This. This is why I love you and your two girls! It may be further in between posts, Heather, but OH MY GOD, they are worth the wait!!!!!!!

  • misszoot

    2015/10/05 at 3:19 pm

    Your youngest and my youngest should NEVER EVER EVER MEET because I’m pretty sure their combined energies and “creativity” would cause the apocolypse.

  • RzDrms

    2015/10/05 at 3:36 pm

    Um, what?!

  • Jennifer Cafferty-Davis

    2015/10/05 at 3:49 pm

    Laughing so hard in my office right now, I’m sure my co-workers are getting concerned.

  • Dana

    2015/10/05 at 3:57 pm

    I don’t KNOW Margo!

  • Richard Morey

    2015/10/05 at 4:09 pm

    I love your rambling rambles.. 🙂 And you DO look like Piper from Orange is the New Black. I never thought of that!

  • Courtney

    2015/10/05 at 4:33 pm

    I’m so glad for this post, Dana – I knew I knew the reference, but the synapses just weren’t making the connection! Once I figured it out, I had to go back and read them both in their smarmy voices. Thanks for the laugh!

  • theresa

    2015/10/05 at 9:03 pm

    ” bowls of water lining the porch so that every mermaid Barbie has her own pool” made me laugh, what a perfect detail. glad to see you posting more frequently!!!!!!!!!

  • stumbletrip

    2015/10/06 at 12:58 am

    Are you okay?

  • Miss lee

    2015/10/06 at 10:41 am

    Somebody is gettin’ their groove back…

  • Jos

    2015/10/06 at 11:11 am

    LOL, Marlo is magnificent.

    My 3 year old who is in pre-k just brought home a stuffed giraffe last night, and *I* have to write in the damn notebook about all of their activities for the next three days because she can write a sum total of 5 words, and my husband was all WHY THE FUCK DO WE HAVE HOMEWORK ALREADY? #SMH

  • Jennifer

    2015/10/06 at 12:00 pm

    My thoughts exactly. This is a manic rambling spiral into a not great place.

  • Lauren3

    2015/10/06 at 12:14 pm

    I read about your butt on the internet.

  • Becky

    2015/10/06 at 12:21 pm

    “There is nothing more important to me than those two girls and giving them the emotional foundation they need to enjoy their childhood…” LOVE LOVE LOVE

  • Lindsey Joy

    2015/10/06 at 3:53 pm

    I just really really like and appreciate you. That’s all. Oh! And thanks for continuing to write.

  • sabbiesmom

    2015/10/06 at 6:06 pm

    OMG I’m peeing my pantss

  • stumbletrip

    2015/10/07 at 5:04 am

    I mean this so earnestly: please, Heather, get hold of a therapist and a doctor.

  • Neva Bin Simpl

    2015/10/07 at 5:14 am


  • greenplanner

    2015/10/07 at 12:08 pm

    Is it rude to wonder why you haven’t slept in three days? That just seems very worrisome.

  • Anne Lieder

    2015/10/07 at 1:00 pm

    You’re doin’ it. And you’re doin’ it hard. Face it, if every parent on this planet wrote down the things they say in the course of a day, we’d all be shaking our heads wondering if they’re okay. I mean, who’s said, “STOP LICKING THE TV!” besides me?

  • Weeding the Garden

    2015/10/07 at 1:11 pm

    It is, I’d assume she hasn’t because she is a single mom….that’s the life. When your not doing, your worrying about how you are fucking it all up. This is one ten minute block of her day and you think you can psychoanalyze her. Get over yourself, but I know, you commented because you care.

  • Rhonda Cates

    2015/10/07 at 1:19 pm

    Welcome to the wonderfully crazy world of Dooce. Obviously your first time reading her.

  • Richard Morey

    2015/10/07 at 1:43 pm


  • shaunTH

    2015/10/07 at 3:21 pm

    Obviously you didn’t read the second paragraph. She is a prophet.

  • greenplanner

    2015/10/07 at 6:59 pm

    I know hundreds of single parents, and I can’t think of any who have ever mentioned going without sleep for three days. Do you know any? But thanks for putting me in my place! Cheers!

  • Noelle Swafford Buttry

    2015/10/08 at 10:54 am

    Could it be hyperbole? I’m thinking she hasn’t really “not slept in three days”. I’m thinking it was just an expression.

  • Noelle Swafford Buttry

    2015/10/08 at 10:55 am

    I’ve always thought she looked like Kate Winslet! Do you ever get that one, Heather?

  • AJS

    2015/10/08 at 12:28 pm

    This. THIS IS PARENTING. And BLESS YOU woman for being a single mom, traveling, working and making those girls feel loved and heard. DO YOU BOO BOO! Sorry about being a face trampoline. It’s the worst. 😉

  • AJS

    2015/10/08 at 12:36 pm

    BAHAHAHAHAHA. Best. Gif. Ever.

  • My Marlo is named Lindsey

    2015/10/08 at 1:57 pm

    You are one of few that can make me laugh so hard. I don’t know how you do it, but I love that you do. Thank you.

  • Haddie

    2015/10/08 at 2:01 pm

    Why so much homework for a 1st grader? That is way too much! There is research to show that 10-20 minutes per night in the first grade is about right.

  • Katybeth

    2015/10/08 at 2:08 pm

    FUN. And you are right, they remember these moments movies in bed on a school night, mermaids, and being with you forever – And the teacher. No words. EXCEPT the teacher has to read all those first grade pages, now doesn’t he/she? Poetic justice. First graders should be learning to cooking their Mom’s hotdogs not doing math problems on an I-Pad. I digress 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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