Kidzophrenia: The symptoms are almost identical to schizophrenia,* but with parent-specific presentations:
1. Hallucinations - These usually involve seeing or hearing things that don’t exist, although hallucinations can be in any of the senses: “I hear a baby crying. Do you hear a baby crying? I could’ve sworn I just heard someone call, “Mama!” I smell poop. Do you smell that, too?”
2. Delusions - These beliefs are not based in reality and usually involve misinterpretation of perception or experience: “My child is the cutest creature ever created. I’m going to have a perfect, pain-free Hypnobirth. Breastfeeding is easy. My kid would NEVER behave like that in public.”
3. Paranoia – The fear others are plotting against you: “They’re going to come into my room while I’m sleeping. At least one of them, I just know it. Can you die from sleep deprivation? If so, I’m pretty sure the kids are trying to kill me.”
4. Thought Disorder - Difficulty speaking and organizing thoughts may result in stopping speech mid-sentence or putting together meaningless words: “This one is just (Please don’t interrupt.) something I think (No, we don’t put anything into outlets, EVER.) all parents (No snacks or you won’t be hungry for dinner.) deal with (Is anyone actually bleeding?!) at some time (Stop! That is a LIBRARY BOOK!) or another.”
5. Loss of interest in everyday activities. You mean everyday activities like cleaning up bodily fluids, sweeping up crumbs, folding endless piles of laundry, and cooking dinner? Yup. Lost interest in those things years ago.
6. Disorganized Behavior. This may show in a number of ways, ranging from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation. Disorganized behavior, ranging from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation… That’s pretty much parenting defined, isn’t it?
7. Reduced ability to carry out or plan activities. Well, I can still plan activities. The ability to carry them out depends on whether someone is sick, hungry, having bathroom issues, unable to find their shoes, bickering with their sibling, going through an inexplicable bout of worry, or a dozen or so other reasons plans with children fall through.
8. Appearing to lack emotion. Oh, come on. I try to get excited about playing Candyland, but there’s only so much enthusiasm one can muster for Queen Frostine and Lord Licorice. And when I “appear to lack emotion” because I’m using every ounce of my willpower to speak in a calm, even voice to my children, rather than spewing frustration all over them as I sometimes feel like doing, I think that’s a good thing.
9. Neglect of personal hygiene. I don’t remember why anymore, but I know for a fact that during The Baby Years there were days I couldn’t seem to get a shower in. Also, between spit-up, leaky diapers, snotty noses, and perpetual “jam hands,” I haven’t worn a clean shirt all day in 13 years.
10. Loss of motivation. Some days I just can’t look at another load of laundry. And is it really necessary to have dinner EVERY night?
11. Social withdrawal. Show me someone whose social life doesn’t “withdraw” when they become a parent. No, really.
12. Difficulty paying attention. Sorry, I missed that. I was helping one kid with a math problem I myself don’t understand, while another ran around singing the ABC’s at full volume, and the other was experimenting with a helium balloon and a ceiling fan.
13. Problems with making sense of information. Toddlers and preschoolers ask questions like, “Mommy, how is it going to be time?” and “When you go to the moon, is it because your birthday present?” HUH?
14. Memory problems. I remember every one of my kids’ births in minute detail, but I forget to put the laundry in the dryer at least 50% of the time. I can sing every word of the Wild Kratts theme song, but I get up to go to the bathroom and realize an hour later that I haven’t gone yet.
Kidzophrenia. I’m pretty sure there’s no cure.
*Disclaimer: Schizophrenia is an extremely serious illness, and I would never dream of poking fun at anyone suffering from it. Parenting is extremely serious, too, but it would be insufferable to go through it without poking fun at it. Please take this post as the latter, not the former.