Houston, I think we’ve got a problem. Looks like my mother is having OCD.
The desire to not write anything about this has got the better of me. This is still a parenting blog and I need to vent.
All mothers are worriers, or should be worrying at some point in time about their parenting. Pregnancy, childbirth, sick babies, vaccine shots, first solid food, first steps…
When my daughter was 18 months old, I got the first scare of my life as a parent. My daughter’s life was in grave danger over a very high fever that went on for a couple of days. On, off, on and off until she had febrile convulsion right in my arms. Eyes shoot up, body stiff. You could just imagine the fear I had while looking at her so helpless. It was the longest three minutes of my life. For the first time in 10 years in Japan, I dialed emergency. The paramedics told me I did the right thing by calling proper medical assistance while holding myself together. Panic will NEVER help.
When the seizure subsided and the ambulance came, I carried my daughter’s almost lifeless body (or so it seemed, she lost all her strength and passed out) with tears uncontrollably flowing from my eyes. I thought my world had ended.
After she triumphed over germs and all, I would monitor every move without being over-anxious when she is sick. I don’t have a medical degree to help me analyze situations like several patterns of flu-like symptoms that attack once in a while.If she is sick, I would not speculate or self-medicate. After careful observation when I think it’s time to see the docs, I take her there.
My mother — a mother of six children who should know better is having some sort of panic disorder when it comes to her grand child. A simple cough, one small sneeze, arms cold to the touch, these trivial things can send my mother to anxiety land. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful of the little help around the house and babysitting she gladly offers us but to shadow my parenting with her own is just too disturbing and stressful. She insists that these things are wrong:
- Anything cold like water or ice cream when the child has cough
- Bathing at night even with warm water
- Bathing right after playing no matter how dirty the child is
- Aircon even at 28C setting!!! we are living in the Middle East, hello!!
- Sleeping with our child when one of us is sneezing, no matter how minor (Isolation is the name of the game)
- Keeping normal sleeping hours in control i.e., waking up early to be able take her afternoon nap in normal hours (1pm-3pm), waking her up at 3 pm the latest so that it will not disturb her sleeping at night (we need her to sleep at 9 pm the latest so she can wake up early the next day without feeling tired and deprived of sleep)…she insists to let the child sleep as long as she wants and stay up late at night is OK.
- Putting her to pre-school at 3 (Thinks I am skipping my mothering duties by confining my young girl to school!!)
- Raising the child without TV (she feels the child will be “out of the circle” when her friends at school talk about tv programs!)
- Letting her do her own stuff: eating and putting on her clothes, shoes (Darling daughter has been doing these since she was two and now grandma is offering to help…daughter has become dependent of everything)
Today we went to the doctor because Pristine has been coughing for a couple of days now. We had her meds. Nothing is serious, just a simple bronchitis. Lungs clear, throat clear — must be the weather. Plenty of water and rest should do the trick but still we bought the meds. I will be showered with lots of blaming if I didn’t.
Then I sent my mother and my daughter home by cab as I have to go back to work. After 30 minutes, I phoned her. My mom was reading the medical slip inside the medicine boxes. She shrieked and tell me in a shaky voice that there would be side-effects in one of the meds like minor stomach upsets, nausea or in some cases, vomitting. Rare, special cases. Every medicine has its side-effects, written in those slips or not.
Why would the doctor recommend the meds in the first place if it will do more harm than good?
I asked her to calm down. Didn’t she used to let us take lots of meds when we were small? She was acting like a first-time mom under anxiety attack, sitting on a panic button.
After much explanation and convincing that everything will be alright, she nodded and put down the phone. But I am sure, she will be holding her breath until my daughter swallows that syrup.
I am no psychiatrist. I could not conclude if she has OCD or not but she has this compulsion to worry and obsession to be clean all the time, in ways I consider to be more than normal. She thinks my daughter is sick because we have not been cleaning enough, or the park we went to has a lot of dust and germs…or the spoons and cups or plates we used when we ate out was contaminated…or because the taxi driver sneezed!
OCD like symptoms:
- Playing with our pet rabbits is a NO because they are “dirty” (Poor furries!!)
- Playing in the sand is dirty (Isn’t it part of growing up??)
- Washing all the kitchen towels and soaking them in bleach every single night
- Insist the need to disinfect the floor every day (mopping with Lysol, etc)
- Insist to separate adult laundry from toddler laundry (adult laundry has a lot of germs according to her…yuck, yuck, yuck…)
- A terrible urge to spray Lysol all over our room because hubby has been coughing last night
- …and insisted/pounced that we wash our bed linens, pillow cases every other day
changing underwear 5x a day!
My mother is a wonderful person, no doubt that she just want the best for her children (me) and her grand daughter (my daughter) but her rituals are sometimes destroying her relationship with the people at home. Sometimes she never cares for other people’s feelings as long as she has her way. OCD can destroy families and I am alarmed.
Time for serious talk at home.
*If you think all my mother’s manifestations are normal, click the comments button and tell me I am the disturbed one. Please, I need to know!