It's not funny being a mom with OCD. It's not fun being a mom with OCD. It really, really sucks.
I just wanted to give you a quick rundown of the Things I Do. A non-exhaustive list. These are my obsessions. These are my compulsions. This is my disorder.
- I wash all my fruits and vegetables. Oh really? you say, nonplussed. Doesn't everybody? Well first of all, let me tell you that no, not everybody does. *shudder* When I met my husband, he did not wash his produce. He ate store-bought grapes straight from the bag, without so much as a splash of water. Let it be known, I put an end to that with a right quickness. But back to my point: I wash all fruits and vegetables......WITH SOAP. Now, some of you may have done this once or twice with a certain fruit, like cantaloupes. A few years back, there was a big e.coli outbreak, traced back to cantaloupes. Why? Because cantaloupes sit around in
shitmanure-enriched dirt all day long. News stations started recommending washing your melons with soap (that's what she said?). And suddenly, people started thinking, "Hey, maybe I too should wash my fucking cantaloupe before slicing e.coli straight through its delicious orange flesh!" Even wikipedia agrees with me:
"Because the surface of a cantaloupe can contain harmful bacteria—in particular, Salmonella—it is always a good idea to wash a melon thoroughly before cutting and consumption."
God bless you, wikipedia. But I digest. So anyway, some of you might wash a honeydew or two with soap, but let me assure you, I wash all my produce with soap. A tiny dab of dishsoap. That includes apples (naturally--I mean, just think how many hands have picked them over, looking for that perfect Braeburn; fingers that have picked asses, hands that have flushed toilets, hands that have been sneezed all over, hands that have been on the naughty bits, fingers that have been up noses...). I also wash, with soap, oranges (if you cut them or gouge your fingers into them to peel them, IN go the germs), tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, avocados (again--slicing the salmonella straight through), everything. Even...bananas. Because, who wants to touch a dirty banana (that's what she said?) that has been handled by hundreds of people from one country to the next? I just don't want to handle a dirty banana and then go wipe drool from my precious newborn's mouth, is all. I want clean bananas. So sue me.
People always chastise me, "But then your fruit will taste like soap!" Umm, ever heard of this thing called rinsing? If you wash your plates and forks and spoons with dishsoap, does all your food taste like soap? No. Because you, umm, rinsed them?
So yes. That is Thing 1 that I do. Here is Thing 2.
- I wash my hands the very second I enter my home (after, naturally, taking off my shoes). The whole family does. The first thing we do, no matter how full the bladder, no matter how hungry the husband, no matter how urgently something else needs to be done, is wash our hands. For a fresh start. To keep the germs of the world out of my sanctuary, my home. And upon arriving home, after washing, we also use hand sanitizer. Yes, we wash and THEN we use hand sanitizer too. If my husband is taking care of washing Maya's hands in the guest bathroom and I am washing up in the kitchen, you will often hear me anxiously scream out, "DID YOU USE HAND SANI AFTER??" And the answer is always yes. Because my husband
has been well-trainedis no fool. But still, I ask, because I can't not. One could even say I ask...compulsively. HUH!
- If I pass somebody who has the nerve to cough, or, God in heaven forbid, sneeze, as I pass by, I instantly hold my breath and lower my head and look down. I hold my breath (mid-breath, at whatever stage of breathing I was in) in order to not inhale their ferocious and surely deadly maladies, and I look downward so that minuscule droplets and effluvia do not enter my eyeballs. That's right. Because eyes are a mucous membrane, and you are more likely to catch a cold if you touch your eyes (with cold-germy hands) than your mouth. And in my mind, I can see those cough germs propelled at me, and I die a little inside, say a few prayers, hold my breath, look down, and hurry past as fast as I can.
OK, last point for now, because there are so many Things I Do that they will require a separate entry. And trust me. Some of them get goooood (and by good I mean crazaaaay). And some of the Things I Do are so good that I will in fact never, not ever share them with you, because that are JUST THAT loony toons. They are THAT crazy. Well, the tricky thing is, they are crazy to you. Not to me. To me, just embarrassing. And to me, they are right and good and important. To me, they are absolutely necessary. To me, they protect my family's health and save my sanity. But some Things I Do are even too outlandish to share. Maybe someday...
Anyway, one last Thing I Do:
- I will not let my children play at the McPlayPlace. Will not. More accurately, cannot. I wish I could, because PlayPlaces are fun Places to Play. And Maya wants to go. I wish I could take her. But I am held hostage by my phobias. To me, the McDonalds PlayPlace is a hotbed of germs. Why do I feel that way? Because it is. And you've got to admit that. But see, even though that place is positively crawling with every disease and virus known to mankind, most moms can still let their kids play there. Because kids like to play, and moms like milkshakes. And most moms don't think, "If I let my child so much as crawl through one McTunnel, she will come down with swine flu." Well I do. And I cannot help it, and I cannot stop it. There was one time--ONE TIME--a couple of years ago that I took Maya to the PlayPlace. I don't know how I managed, but I did. (I had woken up on the softer side of OCD that day.) And every so often while she played, I had her come over and use hand sanitizer, then keep playing. There may or may not have been a few dozen shrieks of "Maya! HANDS OUT! DON'T TOUCH YOUR MOUTH!!" throughout the very tense morning. When she was all done, I wiped her hands with sanitizing wipes, then used hand sanitizing gel, then went home and washed thoroughly, THEN used hand sani again. I know, you're thinking, "This bish gonna give her kid skraight-up alcohol poisoning." Or else by now you are just dying, DYING inside to start spouting off "facts" about the Hygiene Hypothesis. SEE ENTRY #1, MOTHERFUCKER.
But my point is, I let her. One time. And guess what happened? She. Got. Sick. She caught a cold. The dreaded cold.* Coincidence? Correlation, causation, whatnot, whathaveyou? All I know is that the one time I took my gee-dee kid to McPlay around a little, she got sick. And honest to God, this is a kid that just doesn't get sick. She's had like two colds in her life. Thus, coincidence, I think not. So never again. You can just forget that particular indoor germ incubator. The McDonalds PlayPlace can kiss my bum-bum.
You can also forget bouncy houses, Chuck E. Cheese's, Funtasia, coffee shop play areas, mall play areas (*herk*), and the play area at doctors' offices (the absolute worst of the worst). Taking my daughter to outdoor parks is hard (and rare) enough, but on a broiling hot day when the sun's intense rays are there to act as God's Disinfectant, if you catch me in a rare moment of lowered anxiety, I might take my kid to slide a little at the joint down the street (but these days I am vigilant about checking for fossilized poop on said slide). So we play a little, I hyperventilate a little, I scream out a little too often "Maya HANDS OUT!!!", and we head home. Followed by a bleach bath and a quick dousing in flames. I kid.*This dread, this extreme and absolute fear of colds and flus, that is a story for another day. Sit tight and try to be patient, child.
I wish I could take my child places. I do. I joke, but seriously: the panic. The anxiety. You cannot imagine the fear. So, stuck in the house day after day, I suffer. And worse, my kids suffer.
And this is the part that's not funny, that's not fun.