How Being a Parent Is Much Like Being In a Mental Institute

The other day we watched Girl, Interrupted. I always have mixed feelings about that movie. On one hand, it’s a cute and yet offbeat coming of age story. On another hand, it isn’t too terribly realistic in the interest of giving the characters more leeway to move the story along.

Not that I know what it’s like to be in a mental institute or anything, I can only assume. But who are we kidding: we all know I’m headed for one at some point anyway.

So to my point. While watching this movie, not only did I realize that I’m headed for a mental institute, I also realized that being a parent is much like being in one already.

Here’s how.

#1 There’s always something you feel paranoid about

I always assume that a fair number of those people that wear tinfoil hats and think the government is poisoning all of our food in a mass conspiracy wind up having occasional stays in their local or state-run mental hospital. Paranoia is a big thing for the mentally ill, as it is with being a parent.

Someone gets a cut and everyone’s having a fucking heart attack looking for the Neosporin and the gauze and shit these days. And it seems like a lot of people lately have become those douchey parents that rush their kids to the doctor when they sneeze, then slaps them on 10 day courses of antibiotics “just to be safe.” Over a fucking sneeze!

It’s no surprise, but being a parent comes with a daily level of paranoia. Being responsible for someone else’s survival is a big deal, so it seems to some degree rightfully so. But many of us (myself included) take it too far, which is where we rank alongside the tinfoil hat, conspiracy theorists.

#2 Auditory hallucinations are a regular thing

I cannot tell you how many times I hear someone say “mom” when there has been nothing but silence. Anything that sounds remotely like it ends up being a “MOMMY!” in my ears – it is just said to me that much.

When you are a parent, it’s as though you are hypersensitive to the requests because there are always so many. The other day at the grocery store I saw a woman respond to her kid, when someone else’s kid three aisles over could faintly be heard whining “MOM!!!!”

#3 Someone is always with you in the bathroom

In Girl, Interrupted I was reminded of my daily existence when Winona Ryder’s character is bitching and griping because Whoopie Goldberg is watching her shave her legs. In a mental institute, it’s of course to prevent suicide since so many people either get there because they are suicidal, or become suicidal because they are there.

At my home it’s because no one has any sense of privacy. Today I shaved my legs and a random dance party broke out outside the shower. I’ve peed three times today and each time I was interrupted with requests.

#4 Crying and screaming in the corner or inside a closet is commonplace

In fact, I’m crying and screaming in the corner right now.

#5 You’re always doped up

After a day of the fighting and the complaining and the whining and the time outs and the throwing food on the floor and the ass wiping and the complaining some more and the dropping paint on the couch and the juice box being stepped on and squirted all over the carpet that just got cleaned, every parent I know has one of two coping mechanisms:

(1) A mommy’s juice box, box of Franzia wine; or,

(2) A bowl of Valium with milk.

#6 Every once in a while, someone loses it and gets the rest of the inmates riled up

Have you ever been in a room full of kids and one of them gets hurt or something and starts crying, then all of a sudden all of them are crying and not a goddamned one of them even knows why?

Yeah, I have. It never stops either. You think after something like Kindergarten it would come to an end. Your child is now in the primary grades or is growing up to double digits and everything will be cool because surely they are now much more emotionally mature than that.

Errr. Wrong. Kids don’t emotionally mature with their bodies until something like boob and wet dreams time, and even then sometimes they don’t emotionally mature until they fuck up and get sent to jail.

#7 Long wispy looks out the window towards freedom

Any parent that claims they have never lamented their life before kids is a total dillhole. It’s just not true and do you know why? Because it’s okay to do so. When your kids are grown and have kids, they will totally understand and feel the same way. It’s the way life is. Sometimes having kids can be a little isolating. Sometimes it can be a little depressing. Occasionally it can be so nerve-wracking that all you want to do is run away screaming towards freedom, even though you never in a million years would or could even define what freedom to you means anymore.

I think that’s something that happens a lot in mental institutes too, at least that’s what you see in movies. But every movie I’ve seen where someone is institutionalized, when given the opportunity to leave they end up staying. Sure it’s for a different reason, and there aren’t a line of asses in the bathroom waiting to be wiped clean, but I think you get my point.

So now that I’ve clearly proven myself to be Mother of the Year, I’m going to go look into some local mental institutes out in the rolling meadows or up on the top of some plateaus, where I can wrap myself in blankets and have that nervous breakdown I’ve been staving off for a few years now. Then I’m going to eat a bowl of Valium with milk for dinner and call it a night until the auditory hallucinations wake me up again in time for the late night pee show in our bathroom.


  1. i am not a parent, but i can see how being one could lead you to feeling a little “one flew over the cookoos nest”. awesome post!

  2. Not having any children, I can’t say that I know what you’re going through, but you do have my sympathy. Child induced insanity sounds like an awful to go crazy! Personally, I’d rather stick to the fun ways, like stress over whether I have enough white wine to last the weekend, or whether it was a bad idea to stain that occasional table in the kitchen without using a drop cloth.

  3. I can relate to every one of your points. This is hilarious because it is true.

  4. I think this is one of your best posts yet. It is funny how close the comparison is between the two. Just one of the many reasons I don’t want kids. I am close enough to being institutionalized as it is, add a kid and I don’t think I’d be long on the outside. 😀

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