Exposure Therapy

January 5th, 2018

Eliza's first day of school Phoebe first day of school


Being a parent is making me tougher in so many ways. I’ve always been a major sissy about a lot of things, and some of those things are completely unavoidable when you’re momming.

For instance, I have clinical emetophobia. Do guys know what that is? Probably not, and you’re lucky, and you might not even want to know but… I have a major phobia of anything vomit-related. For my entire life, I have avoided sick people like, well, like the plague. I can’t handle getting sick myself, obviously, and if anyone gets sick around me (“get sick” being the euphemism I can handle) I get thrown into a major panic. My heart races, I feel desperate to get away from that person (even if that person is myself).

To be honest, this is one of the main reasons I was always scared to have kids. I worried that I would have morning sickness (I didn’t) and I also worried about how I would handle it when my kids “got sick.” The latter definitely happens.

Turns out, it totally panics me, but it doesn’t matter, because I have no choice. Since they started eating solid foods, my daughters have insisted that if they are going to get sick, there’s only one acceptable place for it to happen: on me. I have been sicked on more times than I’d prefer to count. It’s at the point where I can recognize the look on their face, and I’m like fine, get over here. Holds nose.

Am I getting better at it? Nope. But I can do it. (I cannot, however, and never will be able to clean up dog sick.)

Another thing I’ve always been a supreme chicken about: driving in inclement weather. It’s probably the main reason I moved away from New England all those years ago. I don’t even like driving in the rain, never mind snow, sleet, hail, and a fricking bomb cyclone.

But now that my kids are in preschool, I have to drive, period. This morning, we drove them to school in the beginnings of a blizzard. I mean, to be technical, Jon drove, but I was in the car, which was scary enough. Even with the requisite Subaru and brand new tires, I’m a nervous wreck. Jon likes to “check” the road conditions by slamming on his brakes with no warning shortly after we leave the house.  Pretty much I lose my cool every time.

And then there’s the part about leaving my kids at preschool. I don’t have to get into the details of how many reserves I had to draw upon to make that happen. Many of you have been there; others can certainly imagine it.

But if I want my kids to be tough, I have to be tough. If I want them to face their fears and walk into preschool—or at least let go when I hand them off to a sympathetic teacher, mid-scream—I have to model that behavior myself, right?

“It’s okay to be scared,” I told Eliza on the way to school this morning. “It just gives you a chance to be brave later.” 

Tries to take own advice.  

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One Response to “Exposure Therapy”

  1. [...] I ironically wrote about just the week before I got the sickness (clearly a jinx), I have clinical emetophobia. The constant [...]

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