I’m The Paranoid Parent I Never Thought I Would Be
Before I had kids, I had this idea of the kind of parent I would be. It mostly involved a woman I have never met before – cool mom Maria. Cool mom Maria would have an innate understanding of what her children needed at all times. Cool mom Maria would say things like, they do it when they’re ready and kids will be kids! Cool mom Maria would laugh and shake her head when her children faltered. She would observe her children from a far at the park. She would appear to be almost totally unaffected by the constant energy it takes to keep a human alive.
Cool mom Maria does not exist.
Totally-freaked-out-mom Maria does, though – and she is a total pain in the ass. Not to mention the fact that she is destroying all the fantasies I’d always had about the type of mother I would be.
I should have guessed there would be some paranoia involved in my parenting; weird things freak me out. I have a totally unnatural fear of people choking. Not just my child, the whole world and all of the adults in it, too. I’ve never personally had a hard time getting a piece of meat down my gullet without blocking my airway – but for some reason I think this is super hard for the rest of humanity. I’ve taken CPR classes and imagined how I would handle giving a large adult the Heimlich. I look at my husband apprehensively when he takes a huge bite of his steak. Is this a thing? Is it an actual phobia? A quick glance at the Google machine says, no. There is no actual word for this – only for the fear of you yourself choking on something (which is anginophobia).
I should have guessed this would by magnified 1000% when I had a child. I cut my toddler’s food in such small pieces I swear he looks at me with this bubble over his head that reads, what in the hell are you doing, woman? How many bites do you think I need to take to get through this hot dog? Now that I have an infant and a toddler, the fear of my toddler choking on something has been somewhat upstaged by the fear that he is going to shove something in my infant’s mouth. Seriously, what is wrong with me?
Then there’s the child-proofing. I fully believe in it (shocker!) because it just eases my mind. I don’t want to follow my toddler around wherever he goes in this house. But my sister’s house – where we spend a lot of our time – is not child-proofed at all.
My mother is staying there as well, and she is on a lot of medication. Did you know that over one-third of medication poisonings in children involve a grandparent’s medicine? I did. I sweep the house every time I bring my kids over there. I bought them a TV secure strap for their giant flat screen in the living area before we even moved to this state, but there’s a TV in the guest room that is on an old wobbly entertainment center that I am certain is going to collapse on my child. As if that didn’t make me paranoid enough, they have two of those folding bookcases – one stacked on top of the other and not secured to the wall in any way. Help.
I bought some child-proof catches for a few drawers in my sister’s kitchen. One is literally filled to the brim with knives and the other is full of batteries and screws. She didn’t want to put holes in her drawers – so I just have to follow the kid whenever he wanders in there, which is often. Oh- and under her kitchen sink there’s about 15 bottles of poison. Most normal people refer to this as “cleaning products.”
All the pull-strings on my window blinds have been cut and every item made of glass is on a high shelf. I’ve rigged all the doors in the house so we could never be locked out of a room. I barricade my toddler into his bedroom at night with one of those baby gates because I am convinced he would take a midnight stroll if it wasn’t there. Did I mention that all of these precautions seem totally normal to me? I may sound like a crazy person, but they are the only things that keep me sane.
I should not source parenting news for a living – I think this is magnifying the problem. Daily, I read about awful, freak-accidents. I’m like that guy on Double Dare. Remember that Nickelodeon show from the 90’s with all the pie’s in the face and slime and crap? The host of that show had OCD. He was beyond horrified whenever someone rolled around in slime or shoved a pie in his face. That’s basically me.
Maybe cool mom Maria will make an appearance when my kids are teenagers.
Yeah. Not likely.
(Image: Getty Images)