So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Less than five years ago, I would have found a trip to The Container Store exhilarating. But since there wasn’t one in my neighborhood, I never got to experience the thrill when I would have appreciated it. Staples? An experience preferable to sex, especially in those days. Bed Bath & Beyond? Tantric. I would have done Sting and Trudie proud. My then-husband? Not so much.

He found me unbearable. But not as unbearable as I found him as he tossed the half-opened mail in a pile on the round table in our foyer, or left legal documents from work in haphazard piles on the desk even after they could have been thrown away. Each time he did, I felt my life spin further out of control, more so than it already was, despite thenexcessive orderliness of my house.

Not a paper graced the surface — any surface — of any piece of furniture in our house, ever. Every drawer, armoire, and closet looked like an ad for The Gap. Thanks to my brief work history in retail, coupled with the assistance of a nanny who, for years, enabled my habit because it likely fed her own, I stayed in control. Of what, if anything, I’m not entirely sure.

My nanny eventually left, but instead of me releasing the reigns, I held on even tighter, taking on many of her over-the-top, self-imposed chores, which included ironing the sheets and all of our clothing, including our underwear. Without my partner in crime to assist me, I tried even harder to keep the clutter at bay and, with it, the thoughts that cluttered my mind — thoughts of my monotonous marriage, resentment toward a workaholic husband, and an overarching sense of personal dissatisfaction.

On the morning of the day everything would change, I woke up earlier than I needed to as I usually did, readied my kids for school, and tidied my house in its entirety before leaving at 8:15 am. The granite sparkled, the stainless steel appliances shone, and the house looked like any neighborhood realtor at a moment’s notice could have showcased it.

Upon my return from the carpool line less than five minutes later, I embarked on my daily ritual, spending the day preparing for the evening, and the evening preparing for the next day, even counting my steps along the way. By way of example, though certainly not the only, I systematically raised the shades around the house each morning along a specific route to the laundry room so as not to waste any time or energy, wasting, instead, my life.

My husband left me that night, telling me over the phone from a London hotel room he was “done with our marriage.” It was a Wednesday.

On Thursday, I stopped caring. And counting. And organizing. The mail piled up. The kids’ graded schoolwork accumulated on the kitchen counter. Their toys were no longer put away each night where I had pre-ordained they belonged and were left strewn around the house. The clutter grew.

I, on the other hand, purged, vomiting uncontrollably each afternoon before dinner time the little food I had struggled to eat during the day as I dealt with my shock and, soon after, my depression. In less than three weeks, I lost 20 pounds, growing strikingly thin while the house grew fat.

During my marriage, I never felt like I had any time. During the throes of my divorce, and now without the will to constantly organize, file, and discard, suddenly I had tons. I began to travel, even if only for the day, from New Hope to New England and from Mexico to Germany, with my kids and without. I began projects — constructive ones — with a look to my future and the career I had put on the back burner while my husband built his own.

As it turns out, I like a little clutter around my house. Those piles of paper and clean laundry waiting to be put away don’t signal that my life is spinning out of control but, rather, that I have a lot of plates spinning. And so, too, do my children.

I know the trend today is to lighten up, to get rid of all the excess. I see businesses crop up each day to help accomplish this. I’ve watched reality TV shows that depict people changing their lives by becoming organized. Me? I changed my life, too — by becoming less organized.

That “clutter” on my desk and on my kitchen counter reminds me I’m living my life. Those piles of paper represent projects that I’m working on, that my kids are working on, and how we are living our lives both independently and together, as a family. And every time I see a little imperfection, I’m happily reminded that that not so perfect house of mine is home.

Stacey Freeman

Stacey Freeman is a writer and blogger from the New York City area, a divorced single mom, lifestyle editor at Worthy, and the founder and managing director of Write On Track, LLC.

How Grateful I Am for a Mother Who Believed in Me

In: Cancer, Grief
Mother and grown daughter, color photo

It was a hot summer day sometime in the middle of high school. I was young and naive, but the ugly six-letter word was looming over our family: cancer. Although I didn’t know it then, this would be our last normal summer before my mother’s health would worsen. Cancer would give way to terminal cancer. It’s funny how something so big can seem so small in those moments. My mom and I were sitting on our back porch, encased in a narrow hedge of yew bushes. It was a yellow, lazy Saturday, and my brothers and father were at Cub...

Keep Reading

A Medical Diagnosis Challenges a Marriage

In: Cancer, Living, Marriage
Bald woman holding clippers over husband's head, color photo

It is no secret now that Albert Pujols and his wife have announced their divorce shortly after she had surgery to remove a brain tumor. As a breast cancer survivor, this news hit me in a special way. As I was reading through an article from Today, there was a quote that hit me hard, “But a marriage falling apart is far more common when the wife is the patient, researchers have found. A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is...

Keep Reading

Dear Grandmother, I’m Not Ready to Lose You

In: Grief
Elderly woman and granddaughter touch foreheads

I had a visit from my grandmother the other day. It wasn’t a regular sit on the porch with a cup of tea kind of visit. It was more of an “I have something I need to tell you” type of visit. She’s been unwell for some time, and I guess I had sort of hoped she would get better, and she would be back to herself soon enough. I noticed when she sat down and tears filled her eyes that it wasn’t going to be a normal conversation. Her eyes widened and she struggled to get her words out without...

Keep Reading

Love Carries On in the Ones We Raise

In: Grief, Motherhood
Mother and son hug

From a very young age, two of the most important men in my life were my grandpa and my brother. I never could have imagined that I’d lose them both within nine months, nor could I predict the profound effects the magnitude of those losses would have on my life. My grandpa was my father figure and shepherd. I have endless memories of him— from splashing in the ocean together to shopping each Easter season for my Easter dress. He was always there. Every choir concert, musical, or school ceremony, I could easily find his face in the crowd. I...

Keep Reading

Friends Can Be a Sanctuary

In: Friendship, Grief
Group of friends hugging

A sanctuary is defined as anywhere people go for peaceful tranquility or introspection. My friends became my sanctuary when my husband, Frank, died. They became my refuge and my safe place. Friendship is one of the most wonderful gifts in this world. It is beautiful, comforting, ever-changing, and, for me, a fixed point.  My friends seemed to know exactly what I needed and when I needed it. Their love and constant support got me through the worst of times and gave me the courage and confidence I needed to move forward.  I could never give an adequate thank you to...

Keep Reading

All I Wanted Was For My Baby To Stay Alive

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman with head in hands

Today is the day I’ve dreaded and resisted for almost a year: the day I face going through the white plastic bag the hospital sent home with me after my D&C, 10 months ago. This bag held my clothes, shoes, and wedding ring for the short time I was in surgery, but I rescued all of those precious items soon after waking. The items that remain show the paper trail of that difficult day—receipts from my hospital admittance and anesthesia, general post-operative care instructions, and a consent form for “treatment of incomplete abortion.” That last part brings tears to my...

Keep Reading

My Husband Makes Me a Stronger Woman

In: Grief, Loss, Marriage
Daddy standing over hospital crib with infant, black-and-white photo

A little over a year ago, my husband and I went through the unimaginable. We lost our child, Lillian, to a congenital heart defect. The days following that, and even to this day, people will comment on how strong I am. How well I’ve dealt with this darkness. How they can’t imagine what I am going through. The truth is I was never alone. From the day we found out I would give birth to a child who had complex heart defects, my husband has been there. Always in the background of what others saw but ever so present in...

Keep Reading

Mothers Don’t Teach Us How To Live Life Without Them

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss, Motherhood
Woman in dress with corsage, smiling color photo

When you’re a little girl, you dream of marriage, children, a career, and memories that you will cherish forever—and you want your mother by your side at all times. Our mothers teach us how to live a life we will enjoy, but they never teach us how to live a life without them in it. Our mothers don’t tell us that one day they will not be here to answer the phone when we call or go on spontaneous dinner dates. My mother never told me there will come a day when she will be gone and how bad it...

Keep Reading

When Mother’s Day Feels Awkward, Find Comfort in Community

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood

Mother’s Day can be beautiful for some women. It can be hurt filled for others. Or in my case, it can just feel plain old awkward. I felt eight years of awkward Mother’s Days. In my late 20s to mid-30s, I felt like the woman no one knew what to say to or what to do with. I felt a double whammy on Mother’s Day. My mother was home in Heaven. My womb was empty and always would be. My desire to have a child was filled with an intentional choice to go a non-traditional route to motherhood and was...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Mother’s Day Hurts

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother holding baby near grave, black-and-white photo

I see you moms. I see the moms who will never see all of their children together on this earth at the same time. The moms who dread the question, “When are you having children?” or “Will you have any more?” The moms who pray for that second line, month after month. The moms who are seeing that positive test and don’t know how they are going to make this work. The moms who can’t shake the blues or depression, who feel guilty for not feeling happier about their baby. The moms who feel as though they are doing it...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids


Proven techniques to build REAL connections