the smell of my desperation has become a stench

“But I know how Rapunzel felt in the tower, when she wanted to feel the rain shower…”

Let me start by saying that this is going to be all over the place, a fair warning to those who like to diagnose me. You’re going to have a field day with this one. A party without your pants on. I’ve got four kids at home and have less than two hours to get this published. And yes, my friend Kelly can write 17,000 coherent and world-altering words in less than 10 minutes ISN’T SHE JUST PEACHES (she is actually not just peaches, she’s the whole spectrum of fruit, but none of the poisonous ones or the ones with prickly rinds). I am not nearly as talented as she is and sometimes it takes me forever to write a single sentence. So I am going to write this in numerical format so as not to seem PERSONALITY DISORDER RIDDEN. Let’s roll.

1. On Wednesday at 2PM PDT please join me AND my mother The Avon World Sales Leader for an hour-long online question and answer and virtual hug session about my book. I am part of Quarantine Book Club: here are the details.

You’ll need to download Zoom, and, you guys. My mother. She will be with me and tell you what a total shit I’ve been since, well, the latter half of my life (THIS IS RELEVANT TO THE SUBJECT MATTER OF NUMBER TWO, LOOK AT ME HAVING A LINEAR PERSONALITY). I will also be in her home and can show you in real time all the portraits of Anglo-Saxon Jesus she has hanging on one wall. I predict that she will be fielding most of the questions and you’re going to fall in love with her BLAH BLAH BLAH of course. Just wait. You will see that I have not ever exaggerated one detail about how incredible she is.

ALSO: I have some very exciting things to share and I will do so during that hour.

2. Living with a 16-year-old daughter. Ahem.

I was not a typical 16-year-old girl, not by far. I swallowed my emotions and wanted to protect my mother and make her as happy as I could. I never rebelled or screamed or blamed her for the stress in my life, and I recognize that this was not necessarily healthy. I mean, do you see the mess I am now? Had I blamed my mother for all that was wrong in my life when I was 16 I’d be fine now! HI! I AM A THERAPIST! Did your dad do a lot of yelling when you were five? Welp! You’re totally fucked. Sorry.

I need to hear from other mothers who are living through this, because I was not prepared. I am happy that I have created an environment in which she feels safe to express her emotions, but sometimes it is NUCLEAR. It knocks out windows and topples furniture. It blows holes in the wall. It conquers countries and colonizes them. Mercilessly.

And sometimes it erupts, suddenly, unexpectedly, and it feels like she is spraying acid in my face. I know she doesn’t mean to, but her tendency is to lay the blame for everything that is wrong in her life at my feet. AND BEFORE YOU EVEN GO THERE: This has nothing to do with I Hate My Mother Because She Blogged About My Life.

Me: I wrote about giving you an enema when you were nine months old.

Her: So… I should care… because?

Me: The Internet is upset for you.

Her: Tell the Internet to take my chemistry test!

She’s well aware of everything I have written about her and could not possibly be bothered with it, not when there’s a chemistry test the day she needs to have read four books and has dance practice after school until 5PM. Oh, and so-and-so said the most terrible thing to her and doesn’t even realize how terrible it was and how is she supposed to come to terms with what so-and-so said? How will she ever come to terms with it? HOW?!

And sometimes all of that is screamed in my face.

During the peak of my grief over Coco my body was as fragile as a single piece of tissue paper. I wasn’t sleeping (we’re well aware of this now) and my appetite vanished. I was so emotional already, and when Leta would launch into WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO MY LIFE I felt my body shut down. One night I told her to pause, and then I went into my bedroom to ask Pete for backup. It’s a much longer story that I will get into at some point, maybe even on Wednesday, but I was not going to survive her “attack” that night. I put that word in quotation marks because I know she doesn’t understand what I am experiencing on my end. She doesn’t intend to hurt me, she just wants to emote. She wants to talk and get it out and YELLLLLLLLL. I don’t blame her. Being 16 years old is hard. I’d never go back. I’d never do it again. Being 16 is like having a flesh-eating disease while being told by a peer, “Oh, gross. Your flesh is falling off. You’re ugly.”

I just want to be stronger and better able to handle the grenades she tosses in my lap.

3. IDRIS ELBA HAS CORONAVIRUS? Help! My heart, it can’t handle this. I can’t breathe. I have fallen. Hit my head on the glass coffee table. Head injury. Not Idris. NOT IDRIS. NOT IDRIS.

IIIIIDDDDRRRRRIIIISSSSSSS!

 

4. We went to London and it was a trip through hell and then straight to heaven. I have never been so cold in my life. I know, those of you who live in Michigan are rolling your eyes at me I DO NOT CARE. I was cold! But, now I now want to make every kind of sandwich ever made. I’d forgotten about the sandwiches in England. DELEICIOUS SANDWICHES EVERYWHERE! I mean, I’ve started making toast every morning. So why not? Sandwiches, here I come!

Don’t run! Why are you running away! Come back, sandwiches!

Will there be more about London? Maybe. There is so much I have yet to process about the seven days I spent there. So many things. I know I’m being vague but I have to be vague because I still haven’t figured it all out.

5. I am sort of exactly the combined DNA of my Granny Hamilton and Granny Boone. I will throw rocks at cars that are not supposed to be parked where they are parked (Granny Hamilton). I will house and feed you until I am broke and then give you all of my teeth and shave my head to make a quilt for you out of my hair (Granny Boone). I will yell from clear across the house that you had better get your butt down here RIGHT THIS GODDAMN SECOND and turn your clothes right-side out before I put them into the warrrrshing machine (Granny Hamilton). I will bring you food during a personal tragedy and sit and listen and rub the back of your head as you cry in my lap and then adopt seven dogs and name them all after you (Granny Boone).

So two bullet points to this number:

BULLET POINT NUMBER ONE: Jon flew out to watch the girls while we were in London and I cannot thank him enough. He doesn’t have any Granny Hamilton DNA, so things were a little more, hmmm… casual? Yeah. Casual is the word. But when I got home I was like GET YOUR BUTT DOWN HERE, etc. etc. etc. and Marlo ignored me.

 

Now, Granny Hamilton once broke a plate over my father’s head. I would never do that but, oh, do I daydream. How many of us have that daydream? Admit it. Stop posturing. You know you’ve been tempted. Just a tiny tap on the head. With something very breakable.

I did walk into her room and say without any emotion, totally monotone, “Your mother is home. You know what this means and you had better pay attention.” And then I elevated my monotone just the slightest to end with, “CHILD.”

We had no trouble after that! Granny Hamilton!

BULLET POINT NUMBER TWO: Granny Boone was notorious for carrying a very, very large purse. She grew up during The Great Depression and saved Ziploc bags and would wash out sour cream and butter containers just in case. She carried everything with her, everything she’d need in case of… disaster? I don’t know, but it became a THING, that purse. And well… hi. HI! I carry everything I could possibly ever need in my purse. Need some Altoids? Hand sanitizer? How about a hammer or wrench. I have bags of peanuts and granola bars. Sure, I’ve got my wallet and lip balm, DUH, but I’ve also got floss, an extra toothbrush, two cans of black beans, specially designed earplugs for concerts, pens and pencils and notepads, iPhone screen cleaner, laundry detergent, a Yukon potato, back up discs for Photoshop 7.0 from 2002, a rolling pin, a giant rock to throw at cars, and a VHS tape player because you never know. Granny Boone for the win!

I keep losing my keys, however.

I mean, how could I lose my keys in a swamp? So I looked for a solution and forced myself to leave the rolling pin at home and I got this purse and it has totally and completely changed my life.

Like, overnight. There is a pocket for all essentials and I had a long talk with myself about essentials. No need to carry around that Peter Cetera vinyl collection anymore, HEATHER. I still carry A LOT, but now I know where everything is. Always. I think I might get it in two different colors, it’s that versatile.

6. Any good games to play with your family during times of quarantine that aren’t totally fucking obnoxious? I hate games unless they are genuinely moving or genuinely hysterical. Please don’t give me a map to solve or kingdoms to conquer. Because I will! Oh, I will. I will win and beat you. You can count on that. But I don’t want to have to do that. I want to cry or fall on the floor laughing.

7. My cohost and I are planning a massive relaunch of our podcast Manic Rambling Spiral. We heard from so many other parents who are desperate like we are for stories from other parents who are raising teens. From rage to love to anger and pain and sex and DRIVING and preparing for college and everything in-between. We are feeling our way through the dark and I think our stories are relevant to so many of us going through the same thing. See number two above. SEE NUMBER TWO.

I will leave you with this: Already, since Friday, since they announced schools would be closed for at least two weeks Marlo has said, at least 1,400 times, “Did you know that ‘dog’ is ‘god’ spelled backward—” And we all have started yelling, “YES WE KNOW AND THAT MEANS DOGS ARE OUR GOD WE GET IT NOW MOVE ON.”

Umm… do we really want her to move on. I do not want to start hearing What’s Grosser Than Gross jokes. Oh, god.

HELP!

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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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