Messy. Unorganized. Forgetful. Lazy. I tried so hard not to be these things. I did. In fact, all of these characteristics cause me stress, and yet, I couldn’t fix myself.

I couldn’t stick to a routine to keep my home tidy. I bought all of the organization bins, spent hours sorting, labeling, and telling myself this time it would be different.

I tried writing out routines and posting them in my kitchen to remember to keep on top of the daily chores, weekly tasks, monthly cleans all while raising three kids to not be messy like me.

I was raised in a clean home. My mom cleaned when she was happy. She cleaned when she was mad, sad, and the like. I felt pressure and later shame at times that I couldn’t keep up.

As a little girl, I was called a slob and messy. In high school, I begged my mom to take me to get tested for ADHD. I was so forgetful, I constantly felt like I was in a mental fog, and just couldn’t keep organized. I didn’t get diagnosed with it. The test said I wasn’t and that was that. So, I continued on trying my best to be something I so desperately wanted to be but couldn’t achieve. I used to think something was wrong with me.

The unexpected loss of my parents at a young age exacerbated the problem. At times, I felt out of control. I would think to myself I will just try harder. I would make lists, color code them, and make them pretty. I would cross the item off the list when completed as a way of staying accountable. I tried everything to no avail.

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I have three young children and with each one comes more belongings, clothing, shoes, socks (oh, how I hate socks), toys, and books. I tried different systems and found success . . . temporarily. I just couldn’t ever stick to it. I’d get distracted, forget, or feel overwhelmed.

My husband was very patient but frustrated. Tidying up just didn’t come naturally to me. I loved to organize, but I couldn’t stick with it longer than a week.

I went back to school for another degree, and it took two years to finish. I blamed school and stress for not feeling in control of my household. I know we all joke about rewashing laundry loads or taking a week to put it away, but that was my reality with most tasks in life.

I was driven to tears for being unable to complete a single task no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t leave the house without having to run back in multiple times for forgotten items, a misplaced purse, keys hiding in plain sight. The number of times I’d misplaced my phone at home was alarming.

Again, I thought something must be wrong with me. I must have a fundamental problem. I must be lazy. Maybe I am a slob. If I just remember to stick to my routine, my problem will fix itself.

Social media has a way of showing you content that you either want to see or need to see. Since the pandemic, there has been more talk about undiagnosed ADHD in women. I talked to my therapist, and she said she wouldn’t peg me as someone with ADHD; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t have tendencies.

I sat with that for a while. I quietly watched reels safely behind my phone screen of women speaking out who got help and felt so much better. Part of me didn’t think I was that person. I would think to myself, “You don’t have ADHD, you just aren’t trying hard enough.”

And I sat with it for another year. And another. Then I graduated. I thought surely all my unorganized messy forgetfulness would disappear. I’d be cured! But it got worse.

So I talked to a trusted friend and doctor. Although I never received an official diagnosis of ADHD, I received help in my journey. I take a little white pill that quiets my mind and allows me to be the true version of myself. I’m a better mom, more attentive wife, and happier person.

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What is most important in this discovery is the grace I learned to give myself. I am not all of the things I told myself I was because that’s what I had been told. Sloppy. Messy. Lazy. Forgetful.

I’m not a mess, I struggled with it. I’m not forgetful, I struggled with it. My brain is brilliant in many areas, but I needed help in this area.

I parent my children with the same grace and gentleness I wish I could have shown myself all those years ago. I understand that everyone’s mind works differently, but that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them.

I am not a doctor, therapist, or anyone who claims to have medical knowledge. I just have my experience. I knew I needed to advocate for myself once I accepted myself. And that was the biggest hurdle for me. Acceptance. It took a while to accept who I am and my flaws. Once I was able to accept them, I now understood how to help myself in spite of them. If this resonates with you, I encourage you to advocate too.

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Jordan Pederson

A wife and mama embracing her imperfect happiness.

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