I can see inside you.

The best thing about having a parent with mental illness is that you are always given opportunities to practice “rolling with the punches” and navigating disappointment and creating new, non-heartbreaking, but also honest, ways to explain to your kids why once again someone failed to show up for them.

First, it was me trying to navigate a visit with less than a week’s notice. I gotta say, I kicked ass in that department. I rallied the troops, made roses out of cat poop and turned all that gray into sunshine. And now here I sit. He’s three and a half hours late, with his phone turned off. No word. He could be injured or wounded or dead, but 38 years of experience tells me he’s just sick.

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I hear the secrets that you keep.

At the end of December a friend of mine shared a 30 day decluttering challenge on her fb page. The universe must have aligned for me in that moment because I immediately signed up for it.

Like many other things, “want” doesn’t necessarily mean “action”. I had wanted to declutter for years, but anxiety and overwhelmingness and inefficient time management and children and fear, as well as countless other things, became the excuses that kept me from doing it.

Enter the challenge.

It was day two or three and I hadn’t done anything yet. I think I looked at the first email, but that was it. The kids and I were bowling with friends and my friend, Jaime mentioned the challenge! I was really excited she was in it and it gave me renewed strength. When we got home, I read the emails and got to work. I was meant to only clear out a bathroom, but I did the linen closet as well. It was invigorating.

Allie Casazza, the creator of the Declutter Like A Mother challenge, created this step-by-step tutorial for effective decluttering over the course of 30 days. Each of the four weeks was a different area. Bathroom. Kitchen. Kids’ toys. Clothes. 30 minutes a day. Stay focused. Stay intentional. Don’t make excuses. Save the things for later that trip you up.

And for whatever reason, it clicked.

It was easy to throw away the stuff in the kids’ bathroom. It was mostly easy to throw away crap from the linen closet. It was way more than 30 minutes that first day, but I was on a mission.

The following week was the kitchen. The focus was minimalism. The focus was “limit the dishes to what you need at one meal and wash and reuse” instead of a sinkful of dishes that takes an hour to wash. There was also the “trick” to store what you don’t need in another place, if you had a hard time getting rid of things. Then if after x amount of time you didn’t need it, totally donate it!

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This tip helped me sooooo much. This one little “loophole” gave me the courage to purge the whole damn kitchen. It’s April now and I haven’t missed a single dish.

I finished decluttering the kitchen that first day of week two. Since L’s toys and pack ‘n play were in the kitchen as well, I just decided to declutter all of his crap too. Soon after, I created a toy/book corner for him and it completed the kitchen/dining room area. Oh, and I purged the pantry and fireplace/mantle.

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It’s funny to me that now I can be all “oh, and I purged all this stuff” as tho it was effortless and didn’t take any time at all. Tra la la.

But it did take effort. Grueling effort. And intentional consistency. And taking breaks and coming back to it and commitment.

The following week, I spent over three days decluttering and cleaning S’s room.

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Today it could use five minutes of tidying, but otherwise it’s just as remarkable as it was then. He loves it in there and his mental health is better for it.

The final week was my closet and clothes. I purged half my clothes and almost all of the storage clothes I had been keeping. I also came to learn that I had lost enough weight that all my pre-pregnancy clothes fit again.

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Purging most of my clothes didn’t leave me many I loved and so I made a thrift store trip and picked up some pieces that make me feel comfortable and confident and grown up. Strange as it is, I can envision a world now made up of blouses instead of t-shirts.

That was my January.

The house is still mostly decluttered most days and it affords me slack days, when things come up or I just don’t wanna.

The garage is next on my list because alllll those bags and boxes of donations are still sitting out there. Not for fear of getting rid of them, but for anxiety of having to go to a place to drop them off. Baby steps. I can own my shortcomings, just as I own my awesome.

In the weeks to come, I’m going to share my cleaning story, as well as my success with delegating responsibilities to the kids. This evolution of 2018 has been grueling and rewarding and has highlighted all that I’m capable of. It’s been utterly amazing and I’m so proud of my intention, my bravery, and my progress.

All the simple things you revel in.

I didn’t realize how much I’d resent taking this medication. Not because it’s putting toxins in my own body, which I’m less than okay with as well. But because it keeps me from nursing my boy.

It’s only a four hour delay. It’s only for five days. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. But it is. Because now suddenly I feel taken from him. Now I feel inferior to who I was yesterday. Now I feel poisonous to him. And that part really fucking sucks.

The optimistic side of me says “It’s giving me the opportunity to connect with him in new ways!” and “Now I can appreciate what I had been taking for granted!” and that’s all well and good (and true), but it doesn’t stop it from sucking.

So today I will honor the Silver Lining Girl (because damnit, how can you not?! She’s annoyingly infectious.) and I will also embrace the suck.

And L and I will do our regular Friday tidying and cleaning. And we’ll run to the window and wave when we hear the trash truck. And we’ll take a trip to the store for diapers. And I’ll make it a day that he doesn’t know was any different.

That dirty game.

Today has been a challenging day. It was challenging before I even got out of bed–when my body was stiff and sore and I had just had a weird dream and the babe wouldn’t go back to sleep and the dog wouldn’t stop trying to paw at the babe’s face or lick my arm off.

Before I even got out of bed, I wanted to crawl back into bed and escape the day.

But as I stood in the kitchen, I thought how I should write about it. And then I thought, “Well, ugh! If I write about it, I’ll probably feel better faster and I want to wallow!”

But alas I don’t wallow well because it’s too important to me to do hard things. So I sucked it up and decided self-care and action would supersede the crap start. It is too out of character for me to believe a hard start has to mean a hard day. So I put three loads of laundry away and talked sweetly to the babe, who was having an OHMYGOD sort of morning. And I talked sweetly to the girl who was having a reactionary OHMYGOD morning because of the babe’s OHMYGOD morning. And I focused on the calm that usually enraptures me each morning, despite it being nowhere to be found today, and I willed the damn thing back.

Here I am, a good few hours later and I am the one that is contagious today. What’s your superpower?

Doing the unstuck.

Nothing particularly terrible happened yesterday. I had moments of agitation with my daughter. She has this way of crawling under my skin and shaking my calm. Her words often feel accusatory instead of curious. She questions every action I take, down to how I’ve oiled a pan. She constantly tells her 20mo brother to stop doing things not even mildly dangerous and warns “be careful” ad nauseum. She tells her 10yo brother that he’s dumb for doing or thinking something and whines over and over to leave her alone.

And I want all of it to not hurt so much.

Being critical of her for doing all these things is not going to teach her to stop being critical. Setting a good example hasn’t seemed to help. Ignoring these things and praising the good hasn’t seemed to do much. I want her to care, but I can’t make her care. I want her to be kind, but I can’t force her to do it. So, I’m just at a loss. Which leads me to yesterday.

Nothing terrible happened. It was a regular day. With regular interactions. And I navigated through the best I could.

Then last night Chris asked me, “What was a way you overcame something today?” And I thought back to all the things that happened and I couldn’t think of one productive way I overcame anything. I mean, there was nothing *wrong* with anything I did, but also nothing felt particularly right. I got through it and how I did it was unremarkable.

This morning as the gloom and hormones of the day tried to take hold, I decided I wanted to have a more fulfilling answer if Chris asked again. Hell, even if he *didn’t* ask again! So instead of focusing on my standstill with my daughter or all the things that didn’t get done this week, I just started doing stuff.

I cleaned both bathrooms and washed towels and stripped the beds and brought all the linens downstairs to be washed. I drank four glasses of water and made an amazing late breakfast and cleaned all the dishes from the day. I played ball with L and fed all the animals and cleaned off the dragon’s cage, which always collects all the stuff.

Today I overcame the gloom by replacing my destructive thoughts with constructive action.

Don’t underestimate my point of view.

I didn’t post yesterday. I started my day tracking like usual. Then I didn’t eat enough before going grocery shopping, which is fine, except I bought chocolate chips for Chris and allowed myself to think I could have some. It wasn’t my finest idea. And then instead of having 3/4 of a serving, I had three. Maybe four. I’m not sure. Then I made the decision to not track anymore.

I’m glad I made that decision. It was a good fit. Today I went back to eating regular. I meant to track, but by the afternoon, I hadn’t entered anything yet and I knew my numbers were good. So I decided to just let it be.

I didn’t log anything today. I can’t think of a single thing I ate today that would have undermined my numbers. I did have a probiotic kefir water thing. The carbs on it were like 12, but even with that, it was whatever.

I feel really great about today. And before I sleep, I’ll have had my water intake.

This afternoon/evening had shit moments. My boy is becoming increasingly more apathetic about school and most days just freaking refuses to do work that he is very capable of. And it just so completely frustrates me. So I went out with the babe and my daughter and got some downtime and it was really rejuvenating. Then home was dinner and then I got to actually be productive with cleaning. I’m hoping I can get the table cleared off tomorrow. Nothing would make me happier than clean surfaces in the kitchen. One surface at a time. I will accomplish that this week.

For now sleep! Good night beautiful loveys.

On to the next.

I wanted food all day today. I don’t really know what that was about. It was a sort of boredom. In part with something insatiable. In part with some actual hunger. I dunno. It was strange.

I weighed myself this morning. Sunday. The scale was even more wonky than normal. I couldn’t get an accurate read on it. Eventually I just took the last set of reads.

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I bought a new scale today so I don’t have to deal with the aggravation again. For now I’m down two pounds, after a gain and then nothing for two weeks. And a week of 1600 calories or fewer.

That’s almost 12 pounds in just over a month. It’s nothing to laugh at. It’s good numbers technically. But even still there’s a sense of disappointment. I’m not going anywhere. I’m not giving up or veering from the path. But still. I feel feelings about it.

Foodwise today, I worked really hard to not backpedal my progress. Mentally, more than physically. I just want to stay aware, even when I can’t quite be present.

I went over in calories today. That’s okay. I ate when I wasn’t hungry. That’s okay. I made muffins I didn’t love. That’s okay too. Chris loved them. It wasn’t a great day. But it was a good day. Filled with some tough navigational moments. I’m good with that.

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1705 calories 23 fiber