Facing your fears

Facing one's fears is never an easy thing. If you're arachnophobic, suddenly being face-to-face with a giant, eight-legged creature is never a good thing. And if you're scared of flying, (aka pteromerhanophobia) every time the plane takes off down the runway, your heart skips a beat and your panic doesn't subside until the plane has safely landed. Another common fear that many people suffer from - acrophobia - being afraid of heights - can make someone very anxious. Having astraphobia - being afraid of thunder and lightning - can be quite scary, too. Especially if you're home alone, worried the power will go out at any moment, leaving you completely in the dark... and thinking all sorts of horrible thoughts - well, let's just say, all these fears are very real, and can be debilitating at times. I suffer from all these fears, to some extent.

But there is something I fear much more than all of those 'other' fears combined together. I suffer from mysophobia. The fear of germs. I'm not insane, although I do Purell a bit more than is even recommended. My children know the importance of hand-washing, and my oldest son, after he sneezes and sees my eyes growing as large as saucers, says to me:

"Don't worry, mommy, it's not H1!"

Well, I had to face this fear of mine in a huge way this weekend.

There is nothing like having to take your child to the bathroom for 'number 2' at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere to put you face-to-face with your biggest fear: germs, bacteria and of yeah - H1N1! I was in this situation yesterday, as we were driving back from a day trip to Montreal.

"I have to go to the bathroom!" my 4 year old exclaimed from the backseat.

Secretly, I was hoping there would be no rest-stop in sight, so that he would just have to hold it until we go home, but 'home' wasn't for another hour, so I knew we had to stop.

I contemplated letting my husband take Christos to the bathroom, but I had a feeling the state of the men's washroom - in the middle of nowhere, Canada - would be more... um, dirty than the ladies room.

With Purell and baby wipes in hand, I took my son into the rest-stop, and decided to go to the 'family bathroom', thinking it would the 'cleanest' of all our choices.

I covered the toilet seat in paper towels and toilet paper, and my son said:

"Well, where am I suppose to go to the bathroom?" I had covered the seat so much, the opening was almost not visible at all.

"Right here, sweetie", I said to him, and lifted him up.

I don't know about your children, but my oldest son prefers going to go the bathroom with his clothes off. Yet another challenge in a public restroom, that in my mind, was just swimming in all the germs I did not want to encounter. I took off his shoes, placed them on the counter, and held his pants and underwear.

"Christos, don't touch anything! There are so many germs in here... it's so icky!" I said to my boy.

I realized I was a little insane, as I was giving my son ridiculous fears, fears he didn't need, especially because he's only 4 years old. But I could not help myself... as I imagined little H1 bugs crawling all over the place. I begged him to hurry up, as this was not suppose to be an enjoyable experience, certainly not as relaxing as it is at home.

"Hurry up, darling... daddy and Dimitry are waiting in the car!"

We talked about why there was a shower in the bathroom, and we figured out that it was there for all the truckers to use. Great, I thought to myself, just thinking of all the people who had showered mere inches from us that day.

Luckily, this experience didn't last longer than 10 minutes, and after I dressed my son again, ever so carefully, we washed our hands well with soap and warm water. I then used paper towels to open the door, and told my son that since his hands were so clean, he should avoid touching anything until we got back to the car.

Phew... we made it back to the car in one piece. And we're both fine today.

Note: I have always been a clean person, as I am sure you all are, too, but this 'fear' didn't really enter my life until I became a mom. I can't even tell you how many things have changed since I've become a mom! I mean, I used to be the girl who would have no problem lying down in an airport terminal to wait for her flight! Hmm.

Anyway, so I faced my biggest fear. And we survived. However, it wasn't exactly something I look forward to doing again anytime soon!
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Tyne said...

Fear of germs. I hear you- and it is only magnified by all the hype about H1N1. God has blessed your kids with good immune systems- you will conquer the germs and your fear of them.

My fear? Birds. Yep. And I hardly think there are "immune systems" to combat that fear. Whenever we are around birds (with the kids) I put on my big girl panties and act perfectly normal. Thus far, none of them have inherited this phobia that I picked up from my mom.

Pres. Kathy said...

My fear - dogs. I love dogs as long as their owners are with them. When I was in college, I went to a friend's house and she left me the front room alone with the dog. The dog tried to jump me and the only thing that saved me was my Kate Spade purse!! To this day my husband laughs and says that is why I have expensive taste in purses because they saved me. :-) We just moved to a new house and there are a lot of dogs in the neighborhood. I try to be so brave in front of my little guy so he does not have the same fear as me. I hope we never have a run in with any dog so he doesn't see my fea.

Sarah said...

OMG - were you at Herb's Truck Stop on the 417?

I have a similar affliction. I actually don't use Purell 'cause I would get addicted to it. I really avoid it at all costs because I fear once I start, I'll never stop.

Hotels are my worst fear, but I am always conscious of who might have touched what (with what) and what they might have just touched with it! (Pin pads make me absolutely cringe). I refuse to use a public phone and avoid anything 'communal'

I am not afraid of getting sick, though. I just am not a fan of 'human dirt' 'cause I think it's gross.

Ironically, I've become more laid back since I've become a mom. I am not nearly as fanatical about it - mostly because I don't want to model my fears to my son. It's a concious effort.

Thankfully, he's still in diapers, so we don't have to deal with him using public washrooms, yet. (I recline his stroller and change him in it!)

Loukia said...

Sarah - I think I might have been! :) And to be perfectly honest, this 'germ' fear of mine has increased since the whole craziness with H1N1... when my second baby was born, I was so much more laid-back than when my first-born was born... I was a totally different person, not as scared of everything!

The Crazy Baby Mama said...

oh, i have found my kindred spirit!

anya said...

I think I might have every one of those phobias. ;)

With you about germs. I'm not OCD but I definitely am careful, especiallly in washrooms. Yuck.

Mommy Lisa said...

Because I have older step-children who play baseball and softball we have encountered many "Port-a-Potty's" or, germ carnivals, as I like to think of them.

I take my daughter in there, pull down her pants and set her on the potty with strict instructions NOT TO TOUCH ANYTHING BUT MOMMY!

I know I sound like a crazy person to the people out of the door, but EWWW. gross.

LZ @ My Messy Paradise said...

I'm a germaphobe, too. Bathrooms are gross, h1n1 is scary. totally reasonable, in my opinion! Oh, and the flying thing. Not a big fan of that either...

Elisa, The Unlikely Housewife said...

oh, you are definitely not alone. public bathrooms horrify me, even here in Switzerland, where they are actually really clean!

Anna-b-bonkers said...

Ha, ha! This is me. Only I go into the bathroom saying, "don't touch a thing!" I then help them pull down their pants, and hold them above the toilet so not even their pants brush the side of the pot. It is a balance and aim game. Then I flush with my foot and then wash hands like crazy and use paper towel for he door.
Now i am wondering what will happen when I can no longer lift them. I guess it will be the paper towel covering that you do, agh.

Actually I used to be so bad that I wouldn't open a door in a public place and would sanitize till my hands were raw. I got that way from working in a lab and having to be so clean we even had to change shoes when we came in.
I am learning to let up a little but it is terrifying!

Jessica said...

Oh man... I'm so with you on this one. I'm not quite to your level, but there are certain things I will not do, I don't care how badly it messes up my day to ensure I can avoid germs.

My other fear? Falling out of the sky in an airplane hahaha. But I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that.

Lady Mama said...

Public restrooms are gross - but that one did sound particularly yucky . Admittedly I'm not a huge germ phobe. I only just bought a pack of hand sanitizer wipes last week. Otherwise I prefer simple soap and water. Hopefully you won't have to encounter one of those again any time soon!

Mom2Miles said...

Oh, ick!! My skin was crawling just reading about it! I don't consider myself irrationally scared of germs, but this year, all bets are off. And like you said, when you have kids... they're CLOSER to the germs, for one thing! And they can't exactly hover over the seat like we do. I had to take my son into a Portapotty once & I could barely stand it. thank GOD for Purell!!

becca said...

I've only very recently become fearful of germs but realized that I was making my daughter totally paranoid so I've backed off some. My biggest fear is flying and it's a hard one to face! I do not allow ANYONE to speak to me during take off and landing (I think I'm channeling the pilot and helping him to fly the plane) and I "shush" everyone during turbulence. Not a fun way to be but we all deal in our own ways, right? Glad you got through the bathroom episode and hope there aren't many more like that!

Jenn@ The Crazies said...

Yea... germs are yucky. My kids are pretty clean so luckily I dont have to stress much BUT I totally get ya!

CaraBee said...

I'm not really a germphobe. In fact, while I try to maintain a level of cleanliness, I kind of see exposing my daughter to a certain amount of germs as being a good thing. Helps her develop a strong immune system. Don't get me wrong. I'm not letting her roll around on port-o-potty floors, but I don't get too upset about public places or bathrooms.

Good for you for conquering your fears!

kys said...

Ugh! When my boys were potty training, it seemed like we used every public restroom that we passed. My oldest had a fascination with toilets and drains and would insist on going to all the restrooms. Disgusting.

Lindsay said...

Lol! This had me cracking up! Especially the part about how your son likes to take his clothes off to use the bathroom!

When I first had my son I wasn't too worried about germs....and then he got sick. Now I'm a germaphobe too! I've even put off enrolling us in Mommy and Me classes because I'm worried that he'll get H1N1! Hmmmm, this is probably going to backfire when he doesn't have any friends because his Mom was too scared to let him play with other kids!

blueviolet said...

I'm with you. I don't like touching anything in public restrooms. Sick!

T Rex Mom said...

Thanks for stopping by T Rex Tales.

After this weekend, I can relate to this. We did our first public restroom break with my newly potty trained toddler. I have a folding potty seat because he's still too small to sit on a toilet without it. And he gets very upset if he has to leave his clothes on so there we are in the public restroom (it was decently clean but still germy I'm sure), stripping him naked and putting him on the folding toilet seat on the big toilet. Add to that I'm 7 months pregnant with a big belly and I'm sure it was a sight.

And then, to get him to relax, he insisted I sing "Twinkle Twinkle". I can only imagine what the other restroom users were thinking but I figured if they ever had kids, they would understand.

Wow! What a stressful trip to the restroom. My son, on the other hand, thought it was great! All you can use TP!

~Sandy~ said...

my son has to take off all his clothes when he uses the bathroom too! i can't stand it, but it's what he wants to do. that's so funny :) boys are strange..lol!

Muthering Heights said...

GROSS! I don't blame you...I would have boiled everything when I got home if I had been in that position!

ModernMom said...

I think H1N1 has taken us germ fearin mamas fears to a whole nother level! Purell and Lysol are my new best friends!

Clueless_Mama said...

I love it. I am so glad to know I am not the only one that changed that way. I get made fun of all the time for being so worried about germs and my kids getting sick. I was laughing as I read about your horrid experience. heehee. We would definitely be friends.

amotherworld said...

Believe it or not, my HUSBAND is the germaphobe in our family. He'll bring anti-bacterial wipes and gels wherever we go. He'll wipe down seats, tables, anything the kids touch.
I wipe down grocery carts before letting my kids sit in them. And washing your hands as soon as you enter the house is a must.

Stesha said...

Public restrooms are my biggest fear! I just can't do it. No matter how hard I try. Even now as I think of the germs I feel all gross and disgusted.

Hugs and Mocha,

Crystal D said...

I realized I was over doing it just a little when Amelia came to me and said "my hands really hurt." I looked at them and they were RAW from so much antibacterial. Oooops!!!

I must say "ugh don't touch that" a hundred times a day. They listen to me and then I look over and they have their mouth pressed up against a window or a railing. Bathrooms are the worst. I am sure I sound like a lunatic with all my ranting about germs. GROSS.