KirKath Method, Step Two: I’m Not Sure These Tampons Bring Me Joy, but I Should Probably Keep Them.

Alternatively, Do They Not Have Bathrooms In Japan?

So. The morning after I re-evaluated my clothes and my life and folded my underwear into adorable little rectangles (Pictures not to follow, because I’m a lady. Dammit.) I woke up in the brilliant sunlight of a KonMari morning. I leapt out of bed, banished my family to the downstairs and told my husband he was allowed to feed and/or do anything to/with the children as long as they stayed alive and I could purge in peace. And DO NOT COME UP HERE YELLING AT ME ABOUT PROPERLY DISPOSING OF MEDICATION.

(Side bar: Anybody else have a spouse that discards of things completely differently than you? He recycles everything. Correctly. Even if it takes six weeks to figure out how to do so.  Perfect little steward of the Earth and I love him for it but…

Me? Eh. I throw everything away. If it’s something slightly questionable, I’ll put it in a black bag. But other than that, I figure a Trump or Clinton presidency is going to destroy the world far before the landfills get us, so let’s just enjoy our clean bathrooms and basements in peace while we’re here okay?

I’m not saying this is right. It’s wrong. It’s even a sin if we consider that recent papacies have taught us to respect the Earth as a gift from God in a way we had moved away from. But you know what? RIGHT NOW I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO RINSE ALL MY RECYCLABLES LIKE MY HUSBAND WOULD BECAUSE HE’S PERFECT.

Side side bar: I wouldn’t throw away anything dangerous like chemicals that I knew were going to start a fire or prescription drugs.

But to be honest that’s probably just because I haven’t had any of the good stuff since childbirth and I don’t have any heavy duty cleaning fluid. Otherwise, yeah, I’d probably throw those away too. )

My bathroom had gotten a little bit out of hand. We only have one full bath, so everything happens there. And there’s this HUGE closet, which is awesome because it’s huge and horrible because I tend to fill it up with all the crap in the world that I don’t need (see, Step One.)

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But the problem was that Marie Kondo doesn’t really talk about bathrooms (or kitchens) at all. Like, other than saying that you shouldn’t keep stuff in the shower or next to sink (ha! was my orginal thought. We’ll circle back to that.)

Apparently there isn’t anything in her perfect life as disgusting as a bathroom filled with acne cream and foot scrapy thingies and Nads wax back from when I cared about waxing (Just me? No? Okay. Stop judging then.) and moldy bath toys for the kids.

(I know. You’re all super upset I’m not single, right?)

So once again, as a menstruating American with children who need a crapton (the imperial measurement) of stuff, I had to modify her method.

I tried the joy thing. But, really, there isn’t a whole lot of stuff in a bathroom that gives you joy. Or at least not me. Some of my makeup did. I was able to go through that and think about what I was really excited to use. I love my skin care routine, and all the bottles are so pretty* so it was fun to think about arranging those. But pretty much everything else was just…blah.

*They should be for the half a spleen they cost every month or so.

I don’t know about you but I do not get super excited when my Amazon box arrives every month full of Playtex and clear blue sticks.(Subscribe and save! Whee! Never be embarrassed at the checkout lane again!!!) But obviously I couldn’t just purge everything I didn’t get excited about, or my children would seriously stink and I wouldn’t have any more hand towels.

So.

In a modification I think KonMari would be proud of (at least the current version of her with a kid and responsibilities) I decided to think about what kind of a life these things let me live and how I was excited about that. And then toss everything that doesn’t make that life happen.

I love that my children play together at bath time, and have so much pure joy just by playing with a cup and water and some stupid plastic fish. I love that I am blessed enough that we have a gorgeous house and I can afford clean, dry towels to wrap my babies in. I love that God made me a woman and gifted me with fertility, but, you know, not right now. I love that when my kids get colds they trade them back and forth six times so we need to keep eight bottles of baby ibuprofen on hand at all times…oh wait. Nevermind. I love that I can give them medicine to keep them happier while they’re sick. (And by happier I mean sleeping.)

I love all of that. And so all that boring, utilitarian stuff that doesn’t sell happy, sunkissed books on Amazon got to stay.

(The moldy tub toys went. As well as the aloe vera gel that expired in 2011. And the vaseline from a place I’d never heard of that my husband excitedly informed me was in Iowa! From when I was on my co-op! In 2005? When I was 17? Uh. Nope. Gone.)

Tons of other stuff too obviously, because I tossed bags and bags and bag of…I don’t even know but by the time I was finished the closet was only like half full and I had the delightful task of reorganzing everything for our life.

I have a tendency to just shove stuff wherever it fits. Which leads to things like the bath towels being buried underneath hand towels (because we use those so often?) and the kids’ humidifiers being on the bottom shelf in the way back so you literally have to lay on the ground to get them out which means every time Squeaks or Buddy coughs I cross my fingers and hope it doesn’t happen again because I really don’t want to get the humidifer out. I mean I don’t want them to be sick. Yeah. That one.

I had enough space to put those things on higher shelves where we could easily get to them when I needed it. And, interestingly, the one thing I swore I was not going to do? The one thing Marie Kondo says to do? Keep all your stuff out of the bathtub and wipe it off and put it away after you shower?

Yeah. Of course I did that. And you know what? It works. It works so much better. I wipe down the shower every day and when I have to actually clean it it’s so much easier because I don’t have to move everything and make it such a production. I have everything together. I know when I’m running low on something so I don’t have to hop across the bathroom dripping wet to get more shaving cream. And it takes a grand total of like maaaaybe five extra seconds to wipe the two bottles I use every day on my towel and put them away.

*sigh* You’ve beaten me again, KonMari.

This part took me probably six hours. Honestly, longer than the clothes. Probably because I had to consider what the whole family NEEDED and not just what made me feel pretty. And then the organizing it to work with our life was more difficult than just putting your clothes back in the closet. But so, so worth it. Even if it didn’t get it’s own cute little section in Marie Kondo’s cute little book.

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Next time, I move on to the children’s rooms. And give up on my hope for humanity.

KirKath Method, Step One: Thank your super hot red dress for 2010.

Alternatively, Step One: Ignore your Children and Pretend You’re a Gorgeous Slight Asian Lady for 48 hours While Cleaning Your Own Room.

Oh my gosh you guys. I have fallen for the sweet, sweet voice of Marie Kondo, Japan’s tidy-er in chief (yes, it’s a title I just made up in my head. Should exist.)

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Like many other chubby, hoarding Americans, I saw her delicate features and size 00 waist and was like SHOW ME YOUR WAYS. OR AT LEAST LET ME PAY $16.99 TO READ THEM.

Overall, the ideas were great and totally worth the $16.99. (Especially since I can resell the book on my mom’s group recycle site.) But there were some…um…ridiculous parts. Parts that would never work for anyone in the real world and who also are not on psychotropic drugs.

So here’s my KonMari Method For Real People Living In the United States With Children and Lots of Emotions.

(Yes. I’m thinking of getting a patent.)

Her method is basically go through your things in order of difficult to toss- begin with clothes, then books, papers, then mementos. You physically hold each item and see if it “sparks joy.” If it doesn’t, you don’t need it. And the kicker- you have to gather all your things together in one place.

Um. This was going to be a problem. See, I have a normal sized American house with a normal amount of stuff and, perhaps most importantly, a husband and two children who also live here. I imagine for tiny Japanese ladies who have a studio apartment (she kept talking about her room) and no spawn running around* this makes perfect sense. For me? Not so much.

*I read that she just had a baby. I look forward to her next book, “I’m So Sorry You Guys I Knew Nothing.”

So my first modification would be to only work on my own clothes to begin with. And furthermore, do the whole master bedroom. Because if I’m going to spend six hours holding tank tops and seeing if they “spark joy,” I’m sure as hell going to go through the nightstand drawer and throw out the old febreze and bed chocolate and empty prozac bottles. Go big or go home is my motto.

Above: Before and After

I honestly did not think it was going to be that bad. I’m pretty organized, I pride myself on getting rid of things I don’t use, and yes, I love clothes and probably buy more than I should (don’t ask Buzz about that,) but I was pretty sure I a.) didn’t have that many and b.) didn’t have any that I wasn’t using or loved.

So, just like I begin, oh, everything in my life from grad school to marriage to childbearing, I just leapt in without worrying about it! Come on! Put everything on the bed! Surely there’s not that many! You just have small closets! That’s why you need two of them!

Oh. Oh my.

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Oh shoot. There’s more.

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Okay. Maybe not as organized as I thought.

Still. Surely everything in here causes me joy, right? I mean, I love clothes. I wouldn’t keep any I didn’t like!

Wrong again, dummy. Turns out, MOST OF THIS SH*T YOU DON’T EVEN LIKE. The thought of wearing it makes you literally unhappy. You just feel bad throwing it away because…I don’t even know.

But! That is like the thing I liked best about this whole book and method and my bastardization of a method. YOU DON’T HAVE TO KEEP ANYTHING YOU DON’T LIKE.

Did you hear that? YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION TO THROW ALL THAT CRAP AWAY.

It’s really freeing.I ended up tossing or donating a huge number of things and my closets are now like 80% full. I was worried I would feel like I didn’t have enough to wear and I’d dread getting dressed.

Au contraire. I actually look forward to getting dressed in the morning, because I like everything that I kept. I love how I feel in the items I kept, and so I’m super excited to get dressed. I haven’t worn yoga pants ONCE since I did this. (I KNOW.) I bought pretty nightgowns and fold them every morning. I don’t want to buy things just to buy them, I want to only buy things I know I’ll love because they’ll have such a special place in my closet.

It’s amazing!

She also advocates “thanking” your clothes that you’re tossing for the work they’ve done for you. I read that and was pssh whatever lady, they’re inanimate objects. If I can’t remember to thank my husband every morning for getting up and supporting us I sure as hell am not talking to a cardigan. Crazy talk.

Except…sometimes it totally works. Like I had this dress. This gorgeous red Ralph Lauren dress that I LOVED like whoa. I looked soooo cute in it. See?

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Except that dress is a 2. I think. Maaaybe a 4. Either way. Not gonna happen. But I could not get rid of it. I loved it. It was ridiculous. Even if for some reason I was ever a 2 or 4 again (BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *chokes* ahahahahhhahahah), I’ve had a baby. Things have shifted. We ain’t never going back to grad school again, yo.

So I looked around to make sure no one was listening (they weren’t- I’d banished them to the family room with the netflix password.) And I thanked it. I thanked it for being so adorable and making me feel so pretty in 2010. 2010 was my year man. I had it MADE. I mean I was alone and lived with my parents and yeah okay some guy left me at a Starbucks because he was contemplating the priesthood, but I LOOKED SO CUTE.

*ahem*

The thanking it? Made it okay. I was able to donate it and move on and realize that it wasn’t making me happy sitting in my bin of clothes that are never ever going to work, it was just making me feel badly about myself now. No, my body looks totally different than it did in 2010. But I’m married. My husband loves me, and my body. I’ve grown an entire person, and am raising these two incredible children. And yes, I’m on medication that caused weight gain about nine months ago, but you know what? I’d so much rather be in this body right now and not be having constant panic attacks. I’m a better, happier, nicer person than I was in 2010, and that’s really okay. So I tossed the red dress, and vowed never to make thanking things weird again.

Overall, my clothes took me an entire afternoon. And then a few hours in the evening to put everything back together. Hardly life changing amounts of time, but like I said, I DON’T WEAR YOGA PANTS ANYMORE. It LITERALLY changed my life.

So, here is the cliffnotes version of my own personal method to step one of cleaning up your crap:

1.) Open Hulu.

2.) Turn on Curious George.

3.) Offer your big kid cookies to leave you alone for a few hours.

4.) Put ALL YOUR CRAP in the middle of the bed.

5.) Dry heave.

6.) Throw away everything that you don’t feel happy thinking about wearing.

7.) Fold the remaining things in adorable little rectangles.Hang up the now pretty dresses and skirts you’re totally psyched to wear.

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8.) Thank anything you don’t want to give away. It makes it easier.

9.) Yell at husband about making fun of you for thanking your clothes and remind him he is the reason your body looks like the before picture on a Weight Watchers ad.

10.) NEVER WEAR YOGA PANTS AGAIN.

I know! It’s so simple! (No it’s not.) But still! You can do it!

Stay tuned for the next installment: The Bathroom! OR the room that Marie Kondo prefers to ignore entirely. OR In which I hold my fertility monitor and wonder if it brings me joy.

(Spoiler alert: It does. So much non-childbearing joy.)

The “Perks” of My Maternity Leave

If you have eyes and an internet connection you’ve undoubtedly seen Meghann Foye’s editorial and novel about wanting Me-ternity leave. And how much the world who has actually given birth or begun raising an adopted child HATES HER AND WANTS HER TO SUFFER AS MUCH AS WE HAVE. *ahem* Sorry. Got a little heated there.

You can’t really help but get UNBELIEVABLY IRATE at this woman, who calls maternity leave “a socially mandated time and space for self reflection.”

Ha.

Haha.

HAHAHAHAHAHA.

No.

Anyway, that got me to thinking about those halcyon days of my own immediately postpartum period. What would have been my socially mandated time and space for self reflection had I been employed outside of the home. I bottle fed exclusively. I had a good sleeper (as much as a newborn can be.) I had a husband who was very supportive. I had family in town and emotional and psychological and physical help and all the positives I possibly could. I still almost died afterwards and honestly? Those months immediately following Buddy’s birth were by far the worst of my life and I literally throw up whenever I think about feeling like that again.

So here were some of the perks of MY maternity leave:

1.) Well, don’t forget, you’re usually recovering from either having major abdominal surgery or pushing a fully formed human being out of a hole that…well, you know. Either way, unpleasant! Super, super not fun. I had a relatively “easy” birth, in that I had an epidural, and minimal complications (who wants to hear about the degree of tears my vagina suffered? No one? Especially not my dad who reads this? Okay. Moving on…) and IT STILL HURT LIKE A MOTHERF—–. FOR SERIOUS.

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That thing. IS HUGE.

And even if you’re not a biological parent, learning how to care for a new child is unbelievably difficult as well. I’ve done that as well, with Squeaks. It’s no picnic even though, granted, your vagina is less sore.

Also your boobs hurt less. Probably. I got pregnant like six minutes after my wedding so my boobs hurt a lot by the time I got home and was taking care of Squeaks all the time. So I guess I don’t know.

BUT STILL.

2.) You learn how to breastfeed or bottle feed all sorts of fun places.

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I don’t know about this Meghann chick, but I did not find the dragging around of formula, water, bottles, and I don’t even remember what else constantly because babies are hungry ALL THE TIME terribly calming and lending itself to a lot of meditation on myself and my career path.

I look super meditative don’t I?

3.) You get to go out and about with your baby.

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I’m trying to remember what I was doing here and I honestly can’t. I recognize the floor but I don’t even know where I was. And from the look on my face, I didn’t care.

Yep. I definitely wanted to kill myself by this point.

4.) Your husband may also do some self-reflection and develop a pathogenic staph infection on his chin that prevents you from even coming close to his face for a good month. From stress.

Yes. Having a baby with you is the most stressful thing your recently widowed husband has ever been through.

Reflect on that, bitch.

5.) Other people get to cuddle with your baby a lot. Mostly because you don’t want anything to do with them. I know this is not universal, but for me it totally was. My mom and my sister took care of Buddy most of the time because I literally could not care about anything in the world at all.

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I mean, it’s not that I didn’t care, it’s just that I was having all that time for self reflection. I’m sure that was it. It only FELT like crushing depression.

6.) You get the chance to celebrate all of life’s celebrations in a totally normal way.

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Here I am on my 26th birthday, about two months after Buddy was born. Yep. Party party party, am I right?

That dead look in my eyes and the fact that I don’t even notice that my baby is falling over is totally because of all of the self-reflection I was doing.

Overall, my maternity leave was mostly me looking like this:

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Hemorrhaging, internal organs starting to seize, boobs leaking, feeling like death, trying to either feed or burp the child that totally did not want to do either on the anniversary of your husband’s wedding to someone else.

That’s what maternity leave felt like.

So many perks, right, ladies?