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What is a Mommypotamus?

Affiliate Disclosure | in Everything Else | by | with 96 Comments

You see before you the starting point of – a children’s book I love to read to our daughter. In the book, a socially hesitant potamus (for we all know by now how many varied forms of potami there truly are) sees everybody playing and doing cool stuff together, but she is always hanging back. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s a real tearjerker.

With most of Katie’s stories I get bored and accidentally use the wrong voice for the wrong characters halfway through. But not with this one. I so obviously enjoy it each time we read this book that Daniel started calling me Mommypotamus. It stuck, because in a lot of ways the book is about me.

I experienced loss early in my life, and as a result I became a very timid, cautious person. Being fearful took a huge toll on my health, as did my total ignorance of what healthy food really was (at the time I thought that meant Grape Nuts with half a cup of sugar poured over the top). By my early twenties my body was failing. I was rail-thin and could not gain weight, my abdomen hurt constantly, and I had severe-acid reflux and green, oozing acne. I began hearing phrases like “features of an unspecified autoimmune disorder” and was told not to get pregnant because I was not capable of carrying a baby to term.

I was alive, but I wasn’t living. I was sick of being sick, or so I thought. After seeing doctors, quacks and I don’t-even-know-what-to-call-them, I came to a very strange conclusion: Being sick had a payoff for me.

Being sickly got me attention. Being afraid to get out there and take chances didn’t. I wanted people, relationships and opportunities to come to me without me having to take any risks. But in choosing to be a “hanger-backer” I had slowly evolved into the girl in the plastic bubble.

At the perfect time I met a fabulous doctor (a PhD, not an M.D.) who used a modified version of acupuncture to help me recover. The timing was perfect, as I said, because I was ready to be well. It worked. For the first year I lived in daily amazement of the almost deafening silence of my body. Without pain coursing through me every minute of every day things looked so very different. I rushed headlong into life, sucking in every possible experience.

I used to be alive without living. Now I have said “yes” to life: All the good stuff with pain and disappointment mixed in. All of it. Now, when people pay attention to me (and they sometimes do!), I want it to be because I have something loving, funny, or helpful to say. I want to live my life so loudly that people can’t help but take notice. Not in the “spotlight-hog” kind of way, just in the plain ole “everybody has something worth saying” way.

For those of you that have read the book, it is for this reason that with all my heart I cry:

“But YES the Mommypotamus!!!”

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96 Responses to What is a Mommypotamus?

  1. Melanie Buck says:

    I am printing this and putting it on the fridge. Beautiful, brave and inspirational.

  2. Heather says:

    Thank you, Melanie. I really can’t put into words what your response means to me.

  3. Richard says:

    Daniel told me a little bit about the history of the name, but failed to mention all of this. Defiantly a defining story. This is definitely one to bookmark for later use.
    .-= Richard´s last blog ..Why Your Credit Score Matters =-.

    • Heather says:

      That’s a good way to put it, Richard. There are a lot of defining stories in our lives. Most of the early ones are about what happens to us, but the later ones are about what happens within us. I like the later ones better.

  4. we just read that the night before last. i LOVE sandra boynton books… i really should just go find and buy them all! riley and i like to use different foreign accents each time we read it, just to add to the fun. i never really thought that deeply into the theme that you’ve drawn out of it, so thanks for opening my eyes! “but YES!….” is julia’s favorite part and she always chimes in with excitement.
    .-= Joanna Moore´s last blog ..Thankful Thursday =-.

  5. Des says:

    Okay! totally going to be getting that book on Amazon. What an amazing post Heather. Great job!
    .-= Des´s last blog ..My Kids Grew Overnight =-.

  6. Heather says:

    Thanks, Destiny. I am SO glad you’re back!

  7. Kristine says:

    Wow, that’s amazing! I’m SO glad your my sister-in-law. :)


    It has and continues to be a joy to get to know you, Heather. One would never know what you have been through. When I look at my own life, I wonder if this pain thing is an attention getter. It sure doesn’t feel like it. Have a great day, and give everyone a hug.

  9. Heather says:

    Cheri, I hope my post doesn’t imply that I believe everyone struggling with an illness has the same issues I did. This was definitely a personal journey for me. I’m continuing to pray for resolution to your back pain.

  10. … but not the Daddydillo :(
    .-= Daniel (Daddypotamus)´s last blog ..Prophetic Vision Casting Versus Practical Teaching =-.

  11. Thank you for sharing your journey! I don’t have experience with laser-acupuncture…but I see similar cases in my acupuncture/herbal clinic all the time. We always have the ability to choose our perception of whatever circumstance we are in, which I believe is a first step in true healing and true power. Also, the interconnectedness of our emotions and our health. Fear, anger, joy (yes-hyperactive joy), grief and worry are the five main contibutors to many discomforts according to Chinese medicine. Just as it is important to treat disease with the appropriate medicine, to heal we must consider our emotions and spirit as much as our physical bodies. Acupuncture certainly played an enormous part in my own path and I’m happy to hear it was for you as well. You go, mommypotamus!
    .-= Erin Hessel´s last blog ..Healthy Homemade Granola =-.

    • Heather says:

      Erin, I’m so glad you brought up how interconnected our emotions and bodies are. A few months ago I sat sobbing in my chiropractor’s office, scared that I had lost our baby. The chiro is a close friend and he treated me for emotions using an acupressure technique (I think). It immediately calmed me and I was able to go forward with more clarity. It was an amazing experience.

  12. Linda says:

    What an amazing post! So inspirational! I look forward to reading your blog and getting to know more about you.
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..New Look =-.

  13. Amanda says:

    Are you a graduate of Landmark Education? I just ask because the way you talk in your post has the vibe of someone who has gone through Landmark. (

    In either case, remarkable story and I’m glad I found your blog today. I’ll be spending a lot more time here!

  14. Marybeth says:

    Hi Heather, I found your blog today looking for Standard Process cleanse recipes. I am ecstatic – firstly because your recipes are amazing and I have only been eating plain salad, roasted veggies and plain chicken! – and secondly, because your writing is inspiring and exciting. I used to blog and put time and effort into it as a means of finding myself and examining my feelings/experiences, but I have let it go. I am excited to subscribe to your feed and keep reading!

    God Bless,

    • Heather says:

      Marybeth – Wow, I get tons of hits for those cleanse recipes (I am actually working on some better ones for an ebook right now . . . chutneys, relishes, coconut lime soups, oh my!) but almost no one that reads those posts sticks around. So thanks, it’s great to meet you!!

  15. Leah says:

    Hi Heather, I found you while looking for BPA-free tomato paste, and something kept your page up on my computer for several days. I am so glad I started poking around! I believe God is teaching me how to feed my family right now, and the changes will be very difficult but definitely worth it! I will consider you a source of inspiration while I learn.

  16. Heather says:

    Hello! I’m enjoying looking through your site and I’m especially interested in the Standard Process cleanse recipes, as I’m just starting the process today. However, I can’t seem to access the recipes, and many of them looked quite tasty when I managed to get a glance, so I am quite interested!

    Would you happen to have all of them somewhere and are they still accessible?

    Thank you,

  17. Elisabeth says:

    Funny, all this time and I never actually knew the story behind the Mommypotamus. Love it. Let me take this moment to say, you are an absolutely beautiful person, and I’ve kind of been in awe of you since we first met. A continuing trend. I’m *often* amazed by you.

  18. Sili says:

    Lovely! Thank you for sharing!

  19. Iris Hasty says:

    I own a few Sandra Boynton books, but not this one, heading to the library Monday (hopefully) to get it. I clicked on a link from and found you. I am eager to continue clicking around and soaking up all the knowledge. Thanks for sharing your story a little and convicting me a lot!

  20. Tracy P says:

    What a beautiful story! I am so glad you made the choice to *want* to be well AND that you are sharing it with us! I am new to your blog, but I love all everything about it already… keep it up! :-)

  21. Jenny says:

    Hi there Heather! I just found your blog because I was “googling” some “primal” (aka grain free) recipes for thanksgiving! I just LOVE this post and can TOTALLY relate! I myself suffer from digestive disorders and mysterious pains and a “sick” part of me DOES receive some sort of validation from “being sick”. It’s as if my mind says “see – I really DON”T feel good – feel sorry for me, blah blah blah”. And while I DO NOT at all enjoy feeling that way – I can see how subconsciously holding on to that “validation” can prevent me from getting well. I like when you said you like getting attention now for having something loving or funny to say and living life OUT LOUD! LOVE IT! I am inspired :) Thank you for sharing and I am happy to have found your lovely blog. Happy Turkey Day!! xoxo

  22. I am so glad I found your site. Not only because I’m about to be a mommy again and due to PPD I missed out on being a new mom with our first so this is all “new” for me… but also because I have always been a lover and collector of hippos. I have never heard of this book but it sounds like my son and I would both relate to the hippo. I’m gonna head out and pick up this book today! Thanks! And I look forward to browsing through your blog.

  23. Erica says:

    Would love to talk with you more about the fabulous doctor, if it would be alright with you. I’m not really sure how to email you here but I will mosey over to Facebook and send you a message. I have been living in a plastic bubble, my house, since December 2010 and I need help.

  24. Jessica says:

    I was sitting in the park tonight watching my kids thinking “I can’t go on like this. After three kids I still have 25 pounds to lose, I hurt everywhere and I feel like “I just can’t do it”. Thankfully I am just starting now to heal my body and have read Nourishing Traditions. I’m halfway through Deep Nutrition and just need a boost to actually implement all my new found knowledge. I felt so wonderful reading that you used to be a junk food junkie and now you are so healthy, it made it all seem possible to me!

  25. Candace S. says:

    Reading your story brought me to tears. Sometimes when “life” really hits you you feel like you want to stop living. What you wrote about accepting life with all of the ups and downs is finally where I am at. I agree, especially with you saying: “God knows what He is doing. He knew that if my body were healed it would do nothing for my sick soul.” Oh how I understand that. I am so grateful you wrote this cause it’s so easy for us to feel like we are alone in our suffering but it’s like Gods word says “You have been put to no test but such as is common to man” we all suffer. I finally realized after almost being at the brink of death that I want to pass this test with flying colors and since 2008 I have been on my road to health. I’m not 100% (yet 😉 but I am on my way. I WANT to be well :) AND I’m saying yes to life! God bless you!

  26. josefina says:

    Somewhere in your website I saw “coconut kefir ” can you inform me about how to make it please ?

    thank y you .

    Josefina from Spain

  27. Tricia says:

    Hi I really enjoyed reading about you. Yes it does help to not be blindsided that other people experience young life unfortunate circumstances that change them forever. I lost my Mom at 15 and am 32 now and the older I get feel like my bubble gets tougher to get out of. I want to open up and be the person I was before the great loss of my Mom. I am going to really try hard for I am the Mom now, a friend told me not long ago. I never thought of it in that way. Will love to purchase this book to share with myself and children! Thank you! This was a great New Year’s Day insight.

  28. La Gallina says:

    Wow! Your story brought tears to my eyes. What a gift you are. I recently bought your two ebooks, have read them both, and have learned a ton. ( I didn’t eve know it was possible to make one’s own shampoo!) Thanks for sharing your knowledge and your story. You are making the world a better place.
    Faith Ballesteros
    South Padre Island, TX

  29. Kim Plancich says:

    Hi Heather!
    I just found your blog, and love your inspiration/journey to natural healing – I, too, discovered my physical ailments were all wrapped Up in my mental and emotional state…I wrote about it here on my blog if you care to read!
    I’ll definitely be linking to some of your posts if that’s ok?

    Love and light~

  30. Kira says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but just read this post for the first time, and now I like you even more. My absolute favorite book to read to my kids is “But Not the Hippopotamus” too! And yet I had never connected the dots with your name. So great. Thank you for all the hard work you do, your writing is a blessing!

  31. Tina says:

    I knew we were kindrid spirits when I saw the book, which is a favorite around our house. Reading the post made it even better. Thank you for the post and your blog. I look forward to delving in. :)

  32. Page says:

    I just discovered your site a few days ago and it has been life changing! You’re writing is brilliant, funny, honest, and such a blessing! This story really resonates with me as I find myself in much the same boat you once were and I’m ready to heal! Thank you for being so brave and sharing so that so many others may benefit from your experiences. You are truly an inspiration and an amazing woman! Thank you for this blog and all your hard work – you are a true gift form God <3

  33. Elizabeth Lynch says:

    Thanks for putting yourself ‘out there’ Heather! I came across your website today and i am enjoying it very much (all the way from Australia).Looking forward to trying out some of your recipes. Warm regards, Liz

  34. Diana D. says:

    Inspirational. I can relate to the shyness and needing to step out of
    my comfort zone. Even more so that I am a new mom. Thank You for sharing your story. :)

  35. Amanda says:

    Hello Heather,
    I am new to your blog, sent through a friend of a friend of a friend through the Facebook spiderweb. While I have enjoyed your posts and blogs, this one was by far the most moving. I sit in my couch teary at the moment having read it and having seen my life in your words. I want to say yes to my life and my health. I want to “suck in new experiences” instead of dreaming and some-day-ing. Jesus asked is the man wanted to get better… Had I realized this fact before…. But let’s not regret. I want to get better now. Thank you for your courage and truth. Thank you for being obedient in opening yourself up so that others may be inspired. Because I am inspired. Thank you.

  36. Diane says:

    I’ve been following you for a while but hadn’t read this until now. Just wanted to say I love your blog and how you got the name. I love your story. Bless you and your family.

  37. Kara says:

    It is so nice to read real stories, with real feelings, and real trials about real, down-to-earth, people. So many of us want to sweep those hard times under a rug and forget about them, but they are part of what makes us who we are. They help to build our character. Thank you for sharing this post. It’s beautiful and gives hope.

  38. Dottie M says:

    WOW. Nice to read from someone else in the Christian world! Thanks!

  39. This is one of our very favorite books, and now I’m looking at it in a whole new light. I’m so glad you’ve found a new way to live! ♥

  40. Kelsey says:

    What type of essential oils do you use in your cleaning recipes and are they different from the beauty recipes?

    Thank you

  41. Kathleen says:

    Hi Heather, my daughter grow up with a girl who has a few kids but has become very tired and run down after this last one. Is there any advise you could post to help her get her energy back? Thanks, Kathy

  42. Rachelle King says:

    I love it! That is one of my family’s FAVORITE books! Our copy from when our daughter was a baby is so “loved” it is in pieces. It is a wonderful book, and your story is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing your thought with us all!

  43. Tammie says:

    Hello . . . I was looking at some of your diy ebooks (Cleaning and Beauty) . . can you please tell me where you purchase your supplies?

    Thank you . . .. .

  44. Kristen says:

    Hi Heather,

    Thank you so much for posting this. I too, have an autoimmune disorder and was told I couldn’t get pregnant, but I did twice (well 4 times, if you count the two miscarries). But my research for healthy foods and to vaccine or not to vaccine came after I became a mother. I won’t bore you with all the details, I put my kids on the GAPS diet and so far so good. It’s mostly trial and error so I am really glad I found your blog!

    Good luck and happy cooking! :)

  45. Stacy says:

    Hi Heather,

    I’ve just recently come across your site and awesome recipes.
    I have an question about the recipe “orange vanilla dream lip balm”
    At one point the instructions say to mix in the cocoa powder, but there isn’t
    any cocoa powder listed in the ingredients. Should there be?

    I’m very excited to start making and using these awesome products.


  46. Stacy Donahue says:

    Hi Heather,

    I just bought your eBook a few days ago, and I even asked you about the lip balm accidentally saying to add cocoa powder. My problem is that I have no idea how to get back into my ebook. The email link will no longer let me in. I thought I had in my ebook app, but it’s not here. Any chance I could get you to send me another link so I can download it to my desktop instead?
    Stacy Donahue

  47. Corrinn says:

    Hi Heather,

    A friend recommended your blog to me last night and I am absolutely loving it so far! Thank you for sharing all your knowledge, time, and passion. It’s very inspirational in so many ways! I just have to tell you that when I clicked on “What is a Mommypotamus,” my jaw literally dropped. I have been reading “But Not the Hippopotamus” to my kids since my son was born three years ago. It is one of my absolute favorites. I suffer from some generalized anxieties and the first time I read this seemingly silly, simple book, I could not believe how much I related to the painfully hesitant Hippo. I relished in the ending, imagining myself frolicking freely, leaving all those exaggerated fears and crushing self doubt far behind. And similar to what you have done, I thought about how one day, I would be like the hippo diving headfirst into life and would use the book to help others (all those “armadillos”) understand the anxieties I once felt and the freedom that can be.

    Obviously, I was meant to follow your blog and be inspired at a new level by Boynton’s hippo! Thanks so much for shouting, “Hey! Come join the lot of us!” I’m looking forward to all that’s to come.


    • Heather says:

      Hi Corrinn, I seriously cannot wipe the smile off my face after reading your comment – you so perfectly describe how I felt when I first read the book. So glad you are here!

  48. Ashley says:

    I just have to tell you what happened this week!
    I’ve been following your blog for 2-3 months now (I love your outlook and posts!) and I’ve read your blurb on the book where you pulled your name from. I had NEVER heard of or seen that book anywhere before in my life!
    Last Thursday, my son and I went on our biweekly trip to the library. He’s allowed a big bag of books since we only go biweekly (long drive). Normally I pick out most of them and he will pick out a few. The ONLY book he picked out this time? But Not the Hippopotomus! Oh my! All I could do was laugh! We’ve read it a bajillion times now.
    I just wanted to share this happy coincidence with you, for it made me smile!

  49. Michelle says:

    HI, is it possible to over soak needs before driving them out and roasting them.I soaked some pumpkin seeds and sunflowers for about 32 hrs on a heated buffet tray to keep them warm.When I went to rinse them they had a cheesy smell.I still dried them out and just roasted them.There is a slight cheesy smell did they ferment or go bad when they were soaking.

  50. […] of you that know my story know that I had a lot of motivation to make healthy changes. What you probably don’t know is […]

  51. […] of you that know my story know that I had a lot of motivation to make healthy changes. What you probably don’t know is […]

  52. Kelley says:

    Hi Heather,

    I just came across your site looking for some natural diaper cream solutions. So, your hair is beautiful! Do you use natural products? And what kind of hair do you have (curly, straight…) Thanks! -k

  53. […] of all, I love the name of this blog (and the kind of intense story behind it) but Heather the Mommypotamus has some awesome DIY beauty recipes to share. And they go way beyond […]

  54. […] A debilitating illness, I resolved never to be a spectator in my own life again. I will ride the bull, say yes to the CNN interview even though I’m running on a few hours of sleep, and draw silly faces on all the eggs in my fridge. […]

  55. Denise says:

    I know so many have already shared similar notes with you, but I would like to add my voice to theirs. Thank you for sharing your beautiful mommypotamus story. I love you with out even meeting you as I hear and feel so deeply your story. I’m so happy you’re thriving, sharing your passion, and teaching all of us.
    May God shower you with His radiant love and light! [big smile from me]

  56. payal says:

    Hi I made your detergent and all my cotton clothes seem to be “pilling”. I put in very little. How can I make it less strong

  57. Jennifer says:

    Hello! I have just discovered your blog, via the Wellness Family Summit, and I am very excited I found it. I love that you are now living in Tennessee, I live just south of Nashville myself. I do wonder where you purchase most of the ingredients you use? Do you go to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc or do you shop online?

    Thank you!!

  58. Chloe says:

    If you’re up for article suggestions- my friends and I would love to see an article about post partum hair loss. We’ve all experienced this from about month 3 post partum to month 10. We’re considering shaving our heads bald after birth so we don’t have to deal with the icky hair falling out everywhere. Is this something you’ve experienced?? Any tips??
    Thanks, Chloe
    Ps: no need to reply via comment- I’ll just keep my eyes open for an article. :)

  59. Aria says:

    Hello, first, I am a faithful follower of my Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of my soul. He has brought me from death to life. And I am so thankful to the Author of life itself for His grace and mercy. I came across you website today prayerfully asking The Lord to lead me to finding the info on vitamins I need and read your testimony and want to praise God and let you know I am praying for you throughout you life. God bless you!

  60. michelle says:

    hi Heather

    i saw an article on the amber beads and the baby in the ad looks just like my son. is he your kid? please do respond to me via email.

    regards Michelle :)

  61. Audra says:

    I purchased your book DIY Organic Beauty. I can’t find it on my computer. Is there a way I can download it for my iPad? Thanks.

  62. Farmina says:

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful story.I love you with out even meeting you as I hear and feel so deeply your story. I’m so happy you’re thriving, sharing your passion, and teaching everyone. Keep up your good work… its really helpful.
    May god shower his blessing on you and your family

  63. Kierstan says:

    Heather, I’ve been following you for years and I thought I knew the story behind Mommypotamus, but now knowing that its based off of MY favorite children’s book, makes me know that finding and trusting you was meant to be :) I loved Sandra Boynton’s Three Singing Pigs when I was a nanny, and bought all her books for my own children years later, discovering But Not the Hippopotamus. So awesome :) Thank you for doing everything that you do, I pretty much quote you on every issue, and when I need to figure out how to do something, I always google search the issue + mommypotamus hahaha!

  64. nicky says:

    Heather, is there an common measurement to determine the micron size of various vitamins for maximum absorption. How can I tell the difference between brand A and brand B by looking at the nutritional panel.
    I am asking because very often we listen to the sales person advise.
    I hope you can enlighten me.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Nicky, I don’t consider micron size when evaluating a supplement. I look for a supplement derived from natural ingredients rather than produced synthetically. Based on my research, I believe that factor plays the highest role in whether or not a supplement will be well-absorbed and used.

  65. Libby says:

    I am ready to order the DYI non toxic cleaning recipes but would like to know how it will be sent to me..will it come via an email or what?


  66. Lauren says:

    Heather, what do you think about the products from the Honest company?

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