Anonymous Mom: I’m An OCD Mom Parenting An OCD Kid
A tangled ball of carpet fiber lay next to me on the “Circle Time” rug, taunting me.Â I have to eat that, I realize. I have to, or Mommy’s gonna die.
As my preschool teacher reads a story to the class, I slowly reach over and pluck the fuzzball from the rug. The fibers tickle the back of my throat. My body convulses to suppress the gagging, but I force myself to swallow. The shadows clear. I’ve saved my mom’s life. Again.
â€œSheâ€™s crying again, Mommy.â€
My son stands at the foot of the stairs, his eyes sleepy and sad. It’s 10:45pm.Â I wade through a sea of Post-It notes in the bedroom floor to reach my seven-year-old daughter. She hunches over a pad of paper, scribbling furiously. I study a few of her notes.
REMEMBER TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH.
DON’T FORGET YOUR LUNCHBOX.
SING ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ TWO TIMES WHEN YOU WASH YOUR HANDS.
“Iâ€™m so tired, Mom,” she sobs. “I just want to go to bed.â€ She covers her face with her little hands, raw and chapped from constant washing. “Why can’t I stop? WHY CAN’T I STOP?!”Â She doesn’t understand. But I do. My kid’s genetic chickens have come home to roost.
Some moms pass on great cheekbones or an ass that won’t quit. Me, I gave my kid an obsession with soap.
Even though I had a wonderful childhood, my earliest memories are of anxiety. Like any kid in a typical American household, I was taught that God would “speak” to me if I listened hard enough. So when scary thoughts started popping into my head – mutely commanding me to do stuff or suffer the consequences – I’d DO it. Again and again – paying the piper – a personal loan shark inside my brain. Because the ONE time I decided not to obey, the things I feared just might come true. And there’d be no one to blame but myself.