Woman with shoulder-length hair, who has tears in her eyes


The most difficult topic we need to discuss

Content warning: This story involves discussion of suicide in minors.

There was a time long ago and far away when I didn’t have children. Even all the way back then, I could empathize with parents. 

I remember one time when I was on a charity sports team and one of our Honorees’ parents came to speak to the team. I was maybe 24. I knew I’d have children one day, but they weren’t even in my five-year plan quite yet. 

But these people had a one-year-old with cancer. They had a one-year-old who had been through cancer treatment. They had a one-year-old who they could have lost. Who they still could lose. I just couldn’t imagine it. I had to wipe away tears during that presentation.

I’ve always been especially sensitive when it comes to parents losing a child. When I heard, around the same time, of a couple who had lost their pre-teen daughter to suicide, I was absolutely beside myself. And every time a hear about a young person committing suicide I feel the same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

In my Invisible Illness column, I talk about some pretty heavy stuff. My first story in II, in fact, was about my daughter’s mental illness, and it was heart-wrenching to write. But talking about the abject fear that a child’s mental illness could cause them to do something that can’t be taken back is a whole new kind of terrible. It feels awful, but I think it also needs to be said. Ignoring mental illnesses and their consequences doesn’t, after all, make them go away. 

I’ve been shying away from it, but I’ve finally written it. You can check out the draft here. I’d love to know what you think.

Important note:

This month’s Q&A for Inside-Access Patrons will probably need to be asynchronous due to the ridiculousness that has become my entire life. I’ll post it Monday and try to be online for an hour or so from 11-12 EST, but I’ll come back to it a few times during the week as well. Looking forward to seeing you there!


Photo of a pack of multi-colored pens placed upon the to-do list page of a spiral smart notebook

Making and sticking to a to-do list helps me prioritize all my tasks, and makes finite the infinite list of things that need to get done.

I’m snappy lately. I don’t mean to be, and I don’t quite know even why I’m so snappy, other than the fact that there is an endless supply of things to do and a limited time in which to do them.

It’s par for the course as a mom, especially during this time, and especially with a baby added into the mix. On days when my kids’ schedules are all misaligned and I can’t seem to focus on one thing for more than a couple minutes without being interrupted by someone needing something from me, or running through the house, or being loud while the baby is trying to get to sleep, it’s overwhelming. On days when my kids want to make something in the kitchen but don’t want to clean up the aftermath, it’s overwhelming. On days when I have 1,000,001 tasks to do but only time for a quarter of them, it’s overwhelming.

And when I’m overwhelmed, every single little thing seems designed to scratch at my nerves. When I’m overwhelmed, I can’t figure out where to start because there are so many things that need doing and they all seem equally important. When I’m overwhelmed I express it as nagging, yelling, and generalized irritation. My eating disorder also goes a bit haywire, and lately that’s been bubbling up in the background. It’s a vicious cycle which leaves me feeling helpless and ineffective.

So, what to do? It’s hard to accept there’s anything I can do in these moments, helpless as I feel. Things are unpredictable around me. I can’t figure out how to take care of myself because it seems  like it needs to be scheduled into an unpredictable schedule. 

Well, first I make a list. I’ve been adjusting the format of my to-do list since the baby came, and I have something now that’s moderately workable. I schedule bite-sized pieces into each day, and I have a list of tasks and self-care activities on the side bar. I can make my list even while I’m distracted, and then when the distractions lift I can pick up something from today’s list to check off. When I find myself with time outside the bite-sized pieces, I fit them into the day and check them off. Certain things I can only do with full concentration. Others I can do while hanging with the kids or while nursing. 

My to-do list is a way of taking back some level of control. There’s a certain freedom in knowing that, while the true  list is endless, I can make it more finite by writing it down. It’s comforting, though I rarely check off even the finite number of items on the list.

I realized this morning I hadn’t made my list yet, and now that I have I feel quite a bit better. This, in fact, is one of those bite-size pieces I was talking about earlier.



Person washing hands at the sink with foaming soap

The same energy that drives us when feeling overwhelmed, is the same that can motivate us to focus on the work that’s most important to us.

I was browsing a mom group on Facebook the other day and another member mentioned “rage cleaning.” As I read her words, I felt like all my secrets had been laid bare. 

Here I was, thinking I was the only one who scrubbed and scoured through angry tears, using the elbow grease to exorcise the thoughts I can’t say aloud until a milder, kinder version finally forms. Apparently, I’m not alone.

It’s a Sunday morning and my kids have been up far too long. The older ones won’t stop talking, the baby just wants to nurse, and my husband is taking his time meditating. 

All I want is something for myself. A few minutes of silence. A workout where I don’t get interrupted with an emergency sibling conflict. Even a drive to the drugstore all by myself.

I can’t get it, so I rage clean. Or rage cook, in this case, because everyone needs breakfast. But I definitely rage clean after we’re finished eating. It does nothing to tamp down the overwhelm.

I need peace, so I can focus my thinking around this whole Patreon thing. I want to learn the ins and outs. I want to figure out how to offer you, my Patron, something of value as you support me in my life’s work. I want to know how to deepen my connection with you so we can truly support each other. 

It’s a rabbit hole, to be sure. But the same energy that feeds me in my moments of rage cleaning will also sustain me through that rabbit hole, picking up bits of carrot on the way – tidbits that will help me build a stronger relationship with you.

After breakfast everyone disperses. The older kids build a fort; Daddy takes the baby. I sit with the dog at my feet, the only sound now coming from the kitchen fan, and disappear.

An hour later, I emerge. I’ve got the beginnings of a plan, and a lot of energy to make this work. This is a new journey for me, and I’m glad to have you along.