Dear Home Ec 101,
I just read your desperate help post. I see some great things with it. I need help badly. It is my daughter. She is 21 and has 2 children ages 3 and 7 months. Her husband left them about 2 months ago. She is struggling so badly with everything.
She is depressed and has tried medication before but it hasn’t been too helpful for her. She depends on me a lot.
I have tried helping her but when I have spent the day making her apartment look nice. Within 2 days it has gone right back to being horrible. She has had CPS involved and she did what she was supposed to but it continually goes back to being messy and cluttered. The apt complex where she lives has been threatening to evict her if it’s not clean.
I’m just desperate to help and have her maintain. We don’t have a lot of resources in our area. If you could give me any advice that would help I would appreciate it. She needs one less stress in her life.
Worried in Walterboro
You’re in a heart breaking position. Thank you for being there for her.
It sounds like she’s been through a lot in a short time and your daughter is facing a lot of overwhelming things right now.
Please do your best to ensure she is seen by a professional because we lose too many lives. Just because one medication or therapist wasn’t helpful doesn’t mean another won’t be. Your grandchildren will be affected by how she gets through this. They will learn resilience, but it’d be a much happier story if it is by her example. . .
I’m currently overwhelmed at work, it’s okay, it’s a good busy; but it’s still just exhausting. I picked up a book to try to see if I could figure out how to prioritize my days and reduce some of that fatigue. I’m not very far into it but the book explains a lot about how energy-sucking decision making is and that’s the norm for people in a healthy place.
In all likelihood the choices your daughter has to make are paralyzing her with indecision and leaving her with very little energy to do the things that seem so obvious to you– like keeping the place neat after it was cleaned. Then on top of that, she may also be embarrassed that she’s failing after not doing so.
Things you can do:
By all means, follow the household triage that I sent to Feeling Desperate, but remember she had a partner. Your daughter just lost hers and no matter what the relationship was, she’s grieving as she lets go of the dream of what it could have been.
Don’t ask open-ended questions like, “What are you going to do?” There’s an overwhelming world of possibilities that include awful things like having the children taken by the estranged spouse or the authorities. Once those images flash through a parent’s mind, it’s really hard to let them go and think calmly and rationally.
If you can help with the process of figuring out what to do next, that will likely go further than reducing clutter.
Does she need to find childcare? Is she able to pay her bills? Will she be able to afford to stay in her current home?
She needs a plan and it needs to be broken down into simple steps.
As her mother you’re in one of those awkward positions where your help may seem intrusive, if she has a close friend, you may want to bring her into the loop. There may be some resentment and potentially a lot of defensiveness, but figuring out the “what next questions” as a team will help her find the energy to begin picking up the pieces of the day-to-day.
Your daughter is drowning, not failing, and I hope you can explain to her that it’s okay to reach for help.
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