Stickers on the Floor: Productivity in the Home, Part I

Last night after the kids went to bed, I was mopping frantically looking at these spots on the kitchen floor. Why won’t these come up? I set the mop to the side, maneuvered my way – slipping and sliding – to take a closer look. Yep. Stickers. My two kids love their stickers. Unfortunately, they um…stick to everything. Bits and pieces of stickers stuck to the floor for only God knows how long were creating much more of a workout in this mop session than intended. Sweating late into the night, I clean. 

Here, my kids (almost 2 years old and almost 4 years old, 21 months apart), do not rule this house. But see, here’s the thing…well, they do. My bipolar has me completing tasks well into the night because when they go to bed, I rule the house. When their little eyelids softly close and flutter gently with dreams of cupcakes or bunny rabbits, I dig into my reserve energy sack, which is tossed into the corner of the brain, and perform my acts of productivity, which to most people probably are regular every day chores but (to me) this feels like accomplishing various feats of strength. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am the example of cleaning all the time but my home still looks messy. How does that even happen? 

My manic phases are manageable with medication, but it hasn’t always been this easy. These phases have to be managed more now than ever, because I can’t think about myself anymore. Once you become a mother you’re no longer concerned with you, and, unfortunately, during my diagnosis I needed to be more concerned with me. During the pregnancies, I felt a little off. And even though I’ve experienced depression (and manic and depressive phases, I just didn’t know it) in the past, I did not know how to deal with the new dark cloud. I came to realize I needed help in order for me to be a mother or to be human again. 

Now, I’m managing, but I’m putting these energy bursts into good use. Heck, let’s get something out of it. I’m not going to sit back and tap my foot vigorously while I sit and think about all the things I could be doing. Here, in my home, my schedule is a little different from others. I write during the day along with a part-time job on several days. I edit and write more. I clean. I feel an energy dip around three in the afternoon. The kids are at a pre-school/daycare since I left my full-time job months ago in order to figure out what was wrong (I’ll get into that in another post), and, thankfully, we’ve made it work financially. But it’s still very hard. The diagnosis came not long ago, and I’ve been working with different medications in order to feel human again. Could I do all that with two children running around? No. 

To me, being productive in the home is a way for me to feel alive. I am a mother. I snuggle and wrap the kids in their blankets, play with dolls and trucks, read to them, and give them baths. I love them to the fullest capacity that I have right now. I worry every minute that I am not doing this correctly, and I constantly carry guilt around, hanging on my shoulders like extra weighted limbs. I breathe and I write. Being a mother while living with bipolar disorder so far has not been easy, but as I realize I am still in the beginning of all this, I am productive enough to create something from nothing. I’m determined to make sure my kids not see that if I sit down and dwell, I may not get back up. I need to stand for them. 

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