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My husband had just left for work not long ago and I was almost to sleep, when I heard a tiny thud to the floor in my daughters’ room. I tiredly reach for my phone only to discover that it is 6:27am as I hear another thud land right next to me. Opening another eye, I see my 6-year-old’s bright energized face (I’ll call her C) and her coveted Pinky, the pink elephant, on my bed. Thanks to my newborn’s late-night feeding and projectile vomit party, sleep last night wasn’t very long. As I collect my thoughts as to how to handle Pinky on my bed, I try not to let my OCD win, especially before 7am! I shouldn’t let C’s stuffed animal on my bed bother me so much. Many would say, ‘it’s just a stuffed animal on your bed, oh well. What’s the big deal?’ Yes, you’re right, but to an OCD individual it’s a lot more than you even know.
Let me tell you about Pinky. She joined our family about six and a half years ago when C was born. Pinky usually has a wet trunk from being sucked on, has a worn little tail, loves to be on the wood floor or thrown down the stairs and plainly put, is just deeply loved of 6+ years. So, to say that Pinky touched my clean OCD bed sheets and blanket, my OCD emotions heighten! C’s elephant that loves to be on the dirty floor is now on my bed…oh boy! My OCD not only affects me but my husband and children too. C seems to know to what degree this OCD bothers me and most of the time plays along it. But when it comes to me resisting the obsessive actions and going against them to fight it off, she is a bit more affected. Although, C’s beginning to realize that Mommy is lightening up and not so strict most days.
Poor girl has dealt with this from the beginning and some days deals with it herself (and yes, I can see it in C, of which I really don’t mean too). Whereas, my 3 year old challenges my obsessive OCD rituals. It’s amazing to me and my husband how different two siblings can be when they grow up in the same family. Both children follow suit with my silly ideals only to avoid future trouble. Yet, that doesn’t always ensure they won’t get in trouble later. Their pure innocent faces say it all. ‘Mommy, we are trying, but why can’t we come snuggle with you in bed?’ Or ‘Mommy, don’t get mad at me for not pushing up my long sleeves before I went potty.’ We all know that motherhood isn’t all fun and peachy every second of the day. What’s the fun in changing poopy blowout, finding smashed cheerios in the couch cushions, midnight feedings with your 3 month-old keeping up with homework and chores, and tackling the endless growing pile of laundry and dishes? It never stops. But for an OCD parent, it makes all that work even harder.
I call it the OCD monster. I’ll describe it as having to live the picture, perfect life with continued out-of-the-ordinary rituals that just don’t make sense to the ordinary person. Sleep is the biggest factor for me. If I don’t get enough sleep the night before, I can kiss any hope or fight against the OCD battle good-bye. If you’re any familiar with OCD, you know that the only way to overcome this is to teach yourself how to not let ‘the OCD things’ bother you. Trust me, it’s not easy, especially when you are lacking sleep, dealing with energized children and a long to-do list. It’s then that I have to ask myself, ‘what really needs to be accomplished for the day?’
I used to make a to-do list, but learned some days, it’s ok to do nothing, well because my children are only young once. They catch onto almost everything I do even if I try to avoid it. I have to be strong every day otherwise my OCD wins and my whole world falls apart. It didn’t take me very long to realize that I don’t like to starting out my day with my OCD winning. No, some days I just can’t go back to sleep. No, some days, it isn’t worth the fight about when my oldest didn’t wash her hands after changing her pants.
And so, as I roll out of bed with Pinky by my side, it’s just a stuffed animal, truly loved by child and sometimes myself. I remember occasions when my children and their buddies used to always climb in bed with me. Oh, how I miss those days. But thanks to this OCD, it is hard to allow that back in. You ask, how did it happen to me? Well, honestly, it wasn’t overnight, and I wish I knew so that I could go back and do the opposite. Though I can’t bring back the past. So for now, I’ll be a strong Mommy and strive to resist those OCD temptations. My children are young once and I don’t want to live with any more regrets than I already have (thanks to this horrible OCD). And one day, Pinky will join me in my clean bed.