I have OCD, how will it be as a parent?

Tommy Mulvoy
4 min readMay 22, 2020

By Tommy Mulvoy

It’s both fascinating and frightening that my two-year-old son, Aksel, is starting to count. At dinner, he often looks at the oven clock and yells out when he sees a 2, 4, or 9. He yells out these same numbers when the clock reads 1, 5, or 8, but I don’t obsess. I encourage Aksel’s love of learning about numbers by pointing to the number he has just screamed or asking him to count the number of pieces of broccoli or ravioli on his plate. At the same time, though, I pray that numbers are a bit more friendly to him than they were to me.

My Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder came in many forms, but numbers were the one consistent category of cruelty. When I opened my eyes in the morning until well past the time I closed them at night, I counted and recounted numbers until I felt like I had reached a good number or that I had said a good number a certain amount of times. Good numbers were seemingly random when I was young, but in my teenage years, they became associated with certain life events. In high school, 7 was a good number because I wore it in football. Ditto for number 5-I wore it in hockey. Similarly, Troy Aikman, my favorite professional football player, wore number 8, so that was good, at least in high school.

In college, though, number 8 became associated with someone I did not like so it became a horrible…