the smell of my desperation has become a stench

“A manic rambling spiral into a not great place”

For those of you who signed up for my mailing list, you already know what I’m about to announce. AHA! SEE? See what I did? A hook! A hook to give up your email address so that my Mormon missionary cohorts and I can conspire to send you messages from Anglo Saxon Jesus, is what! That’s what this whole thing is:

I’m going back to church.

You think I’m joking? Why would I go through the trouble of setting up a mailing list if not to send out copies of The Book of Mormon (the actual set of scriptures and not the phenomenally hilarious, pretty spot on Tony-award winning musical)?

How amazing of a twist would that be if I did go back to church? More scandalous than my divorce, even! Well, no. Nothing is going to beat that twist, if one look at google search results involving my name is any indication. However, my divorce has a lot more to do with this announcement than Our Lord and Savior. Sorry, Mom. Please bless this food that it may nourish and strengthen our bodies.

Today I’m announcing a new project in collaboration with a dear friend of mine who last year suddenly found himself in a parenting situation exactly like my own. Meaning, he has been left essentially to raise his child alone. 

I guess this is where some of you are scratching your heads because you missed a post here or there and don’t know that Jon moved to Brooklyn in September of 2014. Since then I have been raising the girls by myself. He and I divide the holidays, but I’m the primary custodian and perform all of the day-to-day upbringing. My two girls and I, just the three of us. No hidden nannies or secret help that shows up in the middle of the night when Marlo can’t sleep. 

I have not written much about it here, no. His leaving is his story to tell—or not tell—but in the struggle of keeping all the balls in the air and attempting to be everything all the time to my kids I realized I was doing a disservice to other parents who might need to hear from someone who doesn’t always keep it effortlessly intact. Who, in fact, never does. I stumble and wipeout all the time… and more often than not feel horribly guilty that I cannot physically fulfill every need that my girls have.

I can’t even be the friend that my friends deserve. I feel really terrible about that.

So I’ve decided to talk about what this is like, this juggling act that resembles a terrible audition for a variety show on basic cable television. And my friend John Bray agreed to share his story and experience as well (his is a doozy). I think the struggles we face aren’t necessarily specific to full-time single parenting. Just the opposite, in fact. We all find ourselves wishing we had an extra set of hands, frustrated and crunched for time, late for drop off—well, we aren’t ever late for drop off. I’ve got a nervous tick about arriving early everywhere and this drives Leta bonkers. Her teen rebellion will most definitely involve showing up late to her high school graduation. And threatening to attend BYU.

And so we present to you:

Manic Rambling Spiral, a weekly podcast…


You can follow along here:

This is a completely independent project, something we produced ourselves. We were lucky enough to hire an amazing band for the soundtrack (you might recall my love for Tanlines), one of my favorite artists, Lisa Congdon, for the cover art, and my friend Ryan Kummer to tackle all the editing. Many thanks to Tanlines for introducing us to an amazing hosting company, acast.

We’ll be honest and say that we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into given the independent nature of this project. It has been no small undertaking, but a final shout out must go to our launch partner, CANIDAE® pet food, who helped us get this thing off the ground. I worked with CANIDAE® last year, and the response from you was so overwhelming that they were thrilled when I asked them to be a part of this.

You might ask, well, what does pet food have to do with a podcast about parenting? I don’t think I’m alone at all when I say that my dog is an integral part of my family. And I think that may be the first time I have ever used the singular form of “dog” on this website since Chuck’s passing, an event that I am still processing, something that showed me just how much I regarded him as a family member. I raised him. 

Chuck was my first introduction into what it requires to be completely devoted, physically and emotionally, to something in my care. You could say he made me a parent.

You may be rolling your eyes at me and thinking a pet is not a child, and that’s fine. I’ll just print out the hundreds of emails I’ve received from people who have said to me that they will read the stories about my daughters, but they stick around only because of the dogs.

And what I love about CANIDAE® is that they understand that connection. Not only do they remain one of the only independently-owned, family-run pet food companies in the country, they all have pets. I’ve met the fine people who own and run this company, had meals with them, exchanged stories about our sons and daughters, our Chucks and Cocos. And so I couldn’t think of any company more suited to be associated with this project.

CANIDAE® has a special offer for our listeners at


  • Buster Brown

    2016/03/17 at 12:54 pm

    I knew it wasn’t over for you! I knew you were on to bigger and badder things! I’m so glad I’ve stuck around all these years. I commute 90 mins a day, and can’t wait to add your podcast to my listening repertoire. Keep on rockin’, Heather!

  • Amy Davis

    2016/03/17 at 1:09 pm

    This is the best news! I am crazy excited to listen.

  • Ann Pagel

    2016/03/17 at 1:21 pm

    Oh my gosh. This is excellent. I am such a podcast junky.

  • jenstamper

    2016/03/17 at 1:48 pm

    I’m a podcast junky so hooray! I’m also a single mom so another hooray! I’ve also got a fur baby and started using canidae dog food because of you so triple hooray lol.

  • REK981

    2016/03/17 at 1:57 pm

    So exciting!!!

  • Tamara Tedd

    2016/03/17 at 2:02 pm

    I too think this is awesome- podcasts are my go-to for long runs. Oddly, the ‘advance notice’ just now showed up in my inbox…. oh well I know 2x now…hooray!!

  • Amy G

    2016/03/17 at 2:08 pm

    I think it should’ve been called “Juggling Balls”

  • Katybeth

    2016/03/17 at 2:37 pm

    Doesn’t your ex also show up when you need to travel for extended trips, and respond quickly when eye doctor appointments go south? And more as mentioned on your blog. Doesn’t your family pitch hit when you need an extra set of hands? I am a widow–my husband died when my son was 13 —the responsibility that fell on my shoulders was overwhelming. And while long distance parenting is never ideal—you are a whole lot less alone than you think you are. You know what I miss most about my departed husband—not help with homework, or someone to sit next to at graduation…but having someone one on earth that loves my son as much as I do—as only a parent can. I lost that—I hope you hang on to it even if it doesn’t always meet your expectations. Good Luck with all your new ventures, they are sure to be successes–you are a hard worker and stick no matter what (gathering this from your blog from back to the days when Leta would not walk on the beach 🙂 )

  • canyonwren

    2016/03/17 at 3:16 pm

    No hidden nannies. Snort. No, but you do (or did) have a personal assistant and an arsenal of sitters and family who care for the girls since you are away from your children far, far more than you are with them. Oh how I wish you had to spend an entire month (just one! Just for funsies!) with your children, actually being a single parent 24 hours a day. NO traveling, no sitters, no help. Oh, and you have to actually work an 8-5 job. Outside of the home. Millions, hell, billions of women are doing exactly that, every day Heather. And not fucking whining about it all over the internet.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2016/03/17 at 4:30 pm

    That was a close second after recording the first episode. 🙂

  • Heather Armstrong

    2016/03/17 at 4:31 pm

    Glad you signed up for the newsletter! There were some timing issues with iTunes that made the advance notice not as advance as I would have liked. Will fix that in the future.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2016/03/17 at 4:32 pm


  • Heather Armstrong

    2016/03/17 at 4:33 pm

    I see you thoroughly listened to the episode. Thank you.

  • Casey

    2016/03/17 at 4:38 pm

    After I got the newsletter I listened to the first episode and really enjoyed it! Looking forward to hearing more and glad you are still telling your stories.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2016/03/17 at 4:41 pm

    Did you listen to the episode? I happen to miss having an extra set of hands when it comes to homework, actually. We differ that way, I guess. And my kids have my mom in their lives, someone who loves them just as much as I do. She helps out as much as she can, but not even on a weekly basis. And no, since you asked, Jon hasn’t been to a single eye appointment for Marlo since he left and has watched them only once when I traveled. This really isn’t about expectations as it is about adjusting to a new reality and often fumbling my way through it. I know many women can relate. This isn’t a competition.

    I’m sorry about your husband, that’s tragic. And it’s sad that your son lost him as well. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been and continues to be for you. Thanks for the well wishes, and I only hope the same for you.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2016/03/17 at 4:41 pm

    I love your “oh my gosh”! That made my day.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2016/03/17 at 4:42 pm

    Seriously, thank you. We’ve worked really hard on this, and it feels like a natural extension of my storytelling. Hope you continue to listen!

  • Heather Armstrong

    2016/03/17 at 4:43 pm

    Thank you! I hope you like it.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2016/03/17 at 4:45 pm

    Hopefully this will make that commute a little less brutal! (I remember those from the days I lived and worked in LA) Really glad you’ve been here all these years. Hopefully you’ll continue to stop by.

  • Lauren3

    2016/03/17 at 4:47 pm

    As I said in my email: fuck yeah, champ. xo

  • Lori Fazeli

    2016/03/17 at 4:53 pm

    Haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but I get the newsletter and am now listening to your March 2016 Spotify playlist. Thank you for making my afternoon paperwork less dreary!

  • Lindsay Beeson

    2016/03/17 at 5:16 pm

    Just this: <3

  • sweettooth

    2016/03/17 at 6:20 pm

    You’re accent is so much more southern than I had been hearing in my head all these years!
    Can’t wait to hear more episodes!

  • Renlish

    2016/03/17 at 6:36 pm

    What happened to you is absolutely tragic, but please Katybeth – this is NOT a competition as to who has had a rougher trot over this single parenting gig. I think Heather is smart enough to be well aware that there are folks significantly worse off than herself. Everyone’s situations are both similar (in that you are single parents) and different (how that singleness came to be) – Heather is relating HER experience. It it no less and no more important significant than your own. It is just different – and just as hard in different ways.

  • Renlish

    2016/03/17 at 6:38 pm

    I’m not a parent (unless you count the furbabies) but I’ve followed you from the start. Now I get you in podcast. Life is cool at the moment. And I’ll be refering my single-parent friends to this as well. 🙂

  • EmptyNester

    2016/03/17 at 6:59 pm

    Loved this!! Was a single parent for many years. And a total single parent to my daughter for 11 years. We just made it to 18 and she’s off to college this summer. It’s bittersweet. Anyway, I loved this podcast and so happy you and John (with an ‘h’… Lol) are doing it. Wishing you much sucess!

  • Cat

    2016/03/17 at 7:15 pm

    Loved the episode! I was looking for a new podcast, yay!

  • Sarah

    2016/03/17 at 7:26 pm

    Ah, I am very excited to listen to this! I am a full time single mom by choice (meaning I started out that way) and he is 3 now. He brings me so much joy but it is also oh so challenging at times. I can use all the camaraderie and sharing I can get!

  • L - Mama(e) in Translation

    2016/03/17 at 7:50 pm

    This is cool! I’m not one to do podcasts, but I LOOOOVE your blog & story-telling and I have a 75 minute commute (each way), so I will listen, yay! I actually signed up the moment I read your previous post (with my main email even, not the blog-related one), but I didn’t get the newsletter. 🙁 I’ll sign up again, there must have been some mistake, I guess. The best of luck with this new endeavor!
    P.S. just did it again, I guess I hadn’t received the confirmation email & clicked to confirm (although I remember doing it — can’t find the earlier one now).

  • h

    2016/03/17 at 8:12 pm

    needed this

  • Dee

    2016/03/17 at 8:30 pm

    I never understand how parents can rarely see their kids especially when they are young and change so quickly. To lose all that time with them is so sad. If I divorced I could never live far away from my kids and only see them on every second holiday. Your Ex is missing out on so much and he will never get that time back with his girls.

  • Katybeth

    2016/03/17 at 8:56 pm

    No I have not listened to the episode, my bad. But I did read the post. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with missing an extra pair of homework hands. I didn’t ask about Jon and the eye appointment you mentioned calling him after an especially difficult appointment with Marlo in another post. I guess we can agree that parenting is hard work single or married. Heck, I’ll admit that sometimes I thought it would be easier to go it alone when my husband was alive. Competition. No it is not. Where did that come from? The reason I mention my husband was not to play the dead dad/husband card but to perhaps point out that a long distance ex that shows up the best that he can is more helpful than you might imagine. I am sure you will help a lot of women adjust to their new reality and many women will agree with you.

  • Katybeth

    2016/03/17 at 9:08 pm

    Competition? No it’s not. I was relating my experience from my point of view. Which is what comments are for, right? I am suggesting that from how Heather has described her life, and her relationship with her girls she might be overlooking or underestimating one of her support systems.

  • Michelle Barraclough

    2016/03/17 at 9:11 pm

    I loved listening to your gorgeous podcast this morning in Sydney as I squeezed eleventy billion domestic chores and work deadlines into the ever-shrinking hours between 9am and 3pm when I then throw child related stuff into the mix (What? You people expect to be fed AGAIN?). It was really warm and engaging, alternately hilarious and poignant. Well done!
    I have a husband and he helps around the house BUT the vast majority of the domestic/childcare load falls on me, as it does most women. I can’t even imagine doing the whole lot 24/7 solo so I absolutely feel for you Heather. Physically, emotionally, financially and in every other way, it is punishing.
    Two things came to mind as I listened. Firstly, Melinda Gates’ recent letter regarding the inequitable unpaid domestic load that falls on women, particularly the line that this load on women “robs them of their potential”. I feel that keenly and I felt you do too. Yes I adore my children and yes I chose this life, but good grief, the things I could be doing for myself, my community, my society, my creative life, if only I was sharing that additional 10.5 hours of unpaid domestic work that women, on average, do over and above men each week.
    Secondly, remember, this too shall pass. It’s not forever, it’s just for now. I know that sounds so cliche but, having helped raise three stepchildren before having my own, I now see that bit by bit, year by year, they draw away from you and exponentially, you claw back time for yourself and that is, well, effing bloody wonderful! (Unless you have more children. Note to self: don’t have more children!

  • davanita

    2016/03/18 at 12:15 am

    Hi Heather! I’m a parent only to dogs, not humans, but I have been a longtime reader of your site and am such a huge fan. It might be the first time I will be hearing your voice and how you speak and only now do I get what you mean when you make fun of your accent. I never realized “balls” can be spoken with 4 syllables LOL

    I enjoyed the podcast and will continue to listen even though I’m not really the target market 🙂

  • Denise Webber

    2016/03/18 at 12:53 am

    I don’t normally listen to podcasts, something about people talking with no visual accompaniment just turns me right off, however I love your accent, so Ill give yours a go.

    My ex left me when mu kids were 8 and 5, he then moved straight away to another state and my kids only saw him two-three times a year for about 15 days all up, the visits tapered off as they got older as it was made abundantly clear to them by their new stepmother that she resented even the small amount of time they spent with their dad.

    He never stood up to her over this and as a result his relationship with them both is strained and distant, they rarely talk to him, and his opinions about their life choices are not welcome. I find it so sad that he threw away their unconditional love when they were kids to keep his at the time, girlfriend happy.

  • mthurricane

    2016/03/18 at 7:43 am

    I personally think you should write/podcast about time management! I don’t know how you do it all? You don’t make it look easy – which is refreshing, real and usually even a bit (or alot) funny – but you DO it. Kudos m’lady.

  • meg

    2016/03/18 at 9:55 am

    Why are people so mean?

  • Amy G

    2016/03/18 at 10:01 am

    Oh, and I love your accent, too. It sounds very much like my own. I enjoyed the podcast!

  • Kristen M

    2016/03/18 at 10:28 am

    Thank you for this. I’ve been missing your stories. A reader since 2005, I was suffering from withdrawal. I signed up for the newsletter and was happy to see the invite to do so. I’ve got two children, 6 and 3, and a husband and two sets of retired grandparents (we have the only two grandchildren on both sides) that live within 10 miles of us. It’s STILL hard. (Maybe I’m just really bad at this.) I have no idea how you do it. NO IDEA. I’m glad to hear you telling the story. Kudos from this fan in Louisiana. All of the love and support to you – all that’s not too weird from a stranger far, far away.

  • Hillary Hyde

    2016/03/18 at 11:33 am

    Hi Heather! I listened to your manic rambling spiral and enjoyed it. I first found you (and Dooce) back in 2004 when I became a solo parent upon the sudden death of my partner (my son’s father). I felt so alone, and had a 3 year old, so I spent a lot of time on the web in the evenings for company. That was a different time in the blogosphere. I worked in early intervention back then, and have loved watching Leta grow up into the fine young person she is now. I also have worked with divorced families for the past 20 years. So, I have spent the last 20 or so years in my professional life, and then the last 13 years of my personal life, thinking about and talking with parents who are doing this on their own to one degree or another, with more or less challenges to their parenting along the way. And, now I am a professor teaching about family law and social policy, and families and stress. There is so much to say on this topic! I really wanted to be able to pick up a phone and have a conversation with you about this. Actually many conversations about this, because the words we use in these discussions really influence how we think about parenting on our own. I guess that is what this podcast will be about. I would LOVE to be able to talk with you about what I have learned, and continue to learn, about this as I live it and look at it from multiple perspectives. Guest speaker? Can you (and John) and I have a conversation or two? Keep it in mind….. Thanks – Hillary

  • Marissa

    2016/03/18 at 11:57 am

    Raising children is difficult in all circumstances, there is no trophy for winning the misery Olympics! Sharing your struggle – or “whining” — and humor helps us all, no matter our personal stories. I’m a full time litigation attorney, divorced, and have 3 kids (15, 6 and 4) that spend 85% of their time with me. Getting through the day-to-day, EVERY SINGLE DAY, is exhausting. I’m looking forward to hearing your voice and feeling a little less alone. Thank you!

  • KateMc

    2016/03/18 at 12:08 pm

    Heather! This is wonderful news! I recently discovered the wonderful world of podcasts – and have now subscribed to yours! Can’t wait to have you narrate my commute! 🙂

  • Heather Armstrong

    2016/03/18 at 12:08 pm

    Thank you, Hillary. We would LOVE to have you on the show. If you send an email to stories at manic ramblings for com (or go here: we would love to be in touch. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

  • Sarah Nicole

    2016/03/18 at 2:19 pm

    I now see why there is a huge podcast trend and people are constantly talking about being addicted to podcasts. Love the synergy and conversation and banter between you two, Heather and JoHn. 🙂 I’m looking forward to episode 2!

  • Andrea

    2016/03/18 at 2:40 pm

    I have been a reader for a long time and it was so nice to actually “hear” you tell a story vs. reading it, just a totally different feel. I can now sort of understand when you’re talking in all caps in the blog haha. It’s so awesome you’re sharing more of your story, let’s face it, that’s what keeps us all coming back. Thank you for being you and being so honest, I’m sure this wasn’t easy! Can’t wait for the next episode!

  • Ann Pagel

    2016/03/18 at 6:40 pm

    🙂 I listened to the first episode. I loved listening to your conversation … you and John are a good fit for a podcast team. I’m looking forward to the next episode.

  • Jessica Cecil Rogers

    2016/03/19 at 7:14 am

    I used to follow you religiously, back when I made time to read blogs and update my own. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this today and that you gave me a full synopsis of what I’ve missed in a nutshell. Can’t wait to listen and I’m so sorry about Chuck 🙁 That shatters my soul a bit; he’s one of the pets I just assumed would outlive us all. Goodness he brought happiness to millions, though.

  • Denise Wallace

    2016/03/19 at 7:41 am

    I’ve been very glad that you write on your blog occasionally and I’m thrilled to hear about your podcast. I mostly wanted to write to say how thankful I am that you introduced me to Canidae dog food – I swear is has had a huge impact on my 10 year old Peke Lilly who is truly one of the lights of our life. While a pet may not technically be a child, ours is our baby. And as we very recently just lost one of our children, we are clinging to this little angel even more.

  • LY

    2016/03/19 at 8:28 pm

    What would destroy me about your situation is how sad my child would be if her father moved away from her to be with someone else (and her kids — ouch!). I’ll probably be back to listen to more, partly because of your lovely speaking voice and enchanting accent, but it will feel like an unhealthy curiosity about someone else’s hard times. And given the phenomenal success of your blog, it’s hard for me to understand why the cost of childcare is an issue, and I can let you know that as a person of very modest means, it was off-putting as a complaint.

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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