Okay, the kid is out of the house and a peace has settled in the home. It's been nine short days and who knows if I remain firm and this is a permanent situation? But for now, I have the house to myself, the rain and wind have stopped, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. My pear tree is winking its baby white flowers at me, promising a mid-spring petal shower, along with its friend and yard-mate, the crab-apple tree. Soon, they will joined by broccoli and azaleas and snapdragons and hostas. These trees are precious to me. The only trees I have in my postage stamp backyard, they were poorly managed when they could have been managed, many years before I bought the property. Dead limbs are in places I cannot access and when it's windy, I have seen the hand of God prune them. Thankfully, the limbs drop in my yard and are so decayed that they can be chopped up and hauled away, even by me alone. I could not afford the $1500 cost to prune them professionally, so I trim what I can reach, and I watch them year after year, with their bare spots and hollowed trunks and dried branches miraculously come to life every spring. The flowers and foliage hide the flaws and they are alive again, sustaining life and holding up birdhouses like colorful earrings made by my daughters when they were still in pigtails. It is spring today. Sunny and warm and sweet. I could learn alot from these trees, which even through ice storms and wind and rain and prolonged winters and tornado watches and scorching droughts, have the roots to hold strong and endure. And once a year, they proudly put on their best display and proclaim, "See, we are alive! And even though we aren't as healthy as we'd like to be, and we are flawed, we sustain and we grow and we survive and still, we bear fruit." The irony that my home is pleasant and charming on the outside but cluttered and dusty on the inside is not lost on me. My home, my self. But for me, it is time to cut out the deadwood and allow the healthy part to thrive. I have allowed my daughter's mental illness and behavior to paralyze me. It has dictated my social life, my professional life and my aspirations to the point that I do not know how to enjoy myself. I have become cynical and lazy, wrapped in a cocoon of remote controls and internet access. Yesterday, I was 35. Now I'm 42. How did that happen and why haven't I sided the house or painted that room? When I got divorced, I knew with DEX out of the picture, I would have to take a good hard look at myself and figure out why I was unhappy. I could no longer blame him or the dynamics of our marriage. It was sink or swim time and I needed to do that fearless moral inventory. The first thing I did was shower and do the make up on the weekends. Every weekend, no matter how lousy I felt. Then I got a gastric bypass and dropped 130 lbs. I did not want to be the bitter ex-wife freaking out because child support was late. I wanted to be independent and explore all those things I put off while being a wife and a mother. The kids were getting to an age that didn't require constant supervision. The possiblities were out there. And then my world fell apart when I learned that difficult child was severely depressed and a cutter. The impact of it all was such that emotional shrapnel pierced all of us and the debris of our lives scattered. It would take a long time to clean up this mess. So long, that I wished at times that I didn't know...that she hadn't been diagnosed...that I could go on living with my head in the sand, and still could consider her just a challenge. And now, having done all that I could with her, I gave up and decided this is where I do not have the power to change her. And I'm 76.3% okay with that and am getting more confident each day. She is so much like her father, even in ways that makes me as in love with her as I was once with her dad, that throwing her out is much like the divorce. It seems my threshhold for pain is approximately 18 years. 18 years with her dad, 19 years with her. So, it has come full circle and it's time for me to do another fearless moral inventory. I no longer can blame difficult child or her illness for my own lack of motivation (which I can neatly counter punch with the fact that I do work a full-time job that can be somewhat stressful). What do I do with a quiet peaceful house and a easy child that is gone with her boyfriend or at work most of the time? Last week, we had a gorgeous weekend sandwiched between two bleary and bleak weeks. I sat at the computer nearly the entire time as I was grasping for support, absolution and war stories. I told myself, this is it. This is the last weekend you watch the world go by from your windows. You will get out into the world, live, and do! So I took baby steps. I had my stuff ready for Monday morning so I wasn't scrambling. I made a list of little goals each day, as my list at work is the only thing that keep me on task. I watched as my list grew, only this time, it was accompanied by check marks. Task complete. I didn't overwhelm myself - I kept the list manageable and forgave myself when it became apparent I would be working several 10-12 hour days and didn't have the energy to do anything more than to surf between the Antiques Roadshow and Dancing with the Stars. (Heather Mills - classic difficult child. Hasn't figured it out yet. Poor Paul). difficult child is gone, although she is returning soon to get more stuff and do laundry. The paralysis is lifting and now I must stretch my heart and flex my brain and open my soul and work out the atrophy that comes when your psyche is in fight or flight mode for so long that it just shuts down, weary from the battle. Just like my trees, my winter has come to an end. We may have a frost or two before spring is completely here, but today is a beautiful day and this weekend, and my task is to let the blooms burst open and feel the sunshine.