I love my kids. I mean, I flipping LOVE them. I love their little faces, their funny smiles, the way they smell. I love that they are mine in a way that is unique to them and me. I love that they surprise me. I love that they are curious and happy and amazed by the world. I love that they don't judge me; they just love me. I love them.
I feel I need to state that up front, in case anything I am about to type seems to contradict that incontrovertible fact.
OK. Sometimes I don't want them to touch me. Not, like, not EVER. But there are some times - a moment, a minute, an hour - when I really think I'll just take leave of my sanity if someone touches me. I think breastfeeding has a lot to do with this. It is so much physical touching, which everyone says is supposed to be wonderful and borderline ecstasy-inducing. It sometimes is those things, but many months into it, it is just as often tedious, and it is sometimes even overwhelming. And breastfeeding also involves being "touched" by a breast pump a lot (because I work full time).
On top of all of this, my three-and-a-half-year-old son really, really likes to be touching me at all times, if at all possible. As in, told my husband the other night the following three statements:
1. I miss mama when I'm asleep in my bed.
2. Mama's skin smells good.
3. I want to make a shirt out of mama's skin and wear it.
See that? Adorable to Silence of the Lambs in three easy steps.
This boy NEEDS to be next to me. This includes meal times, when he shouts "I wanna sit by mama!" the minute the kitchen starts smelling like food. Note: he doesn't want to sit next to me, as in, on the same side of the table. He NEEDS to sit next to me, with our chairs and bodies touching, for the duration of the meal.
The other day, I had finally had enough. I reached the unknowable limit of being touched, of people demanding things of my body. I wanted to be un-touched. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of lunch on a Saturday when this happened. The boy was snuggled up next to me, eating happily. The baby was throwing food at me and trying to convince me to let her sit in my lap for the meal. Everyone wanted to be touching me. And, well, I snapped. I got up, leaving my food where it was, walked to the oven, and set the cook timer for ten minutes. "I AM SETTING THIS TIMER FOR TEN MINUTES," I announced. "UNTIL THIS TIMER GOES OFF, NOBODY IS TO TOUCH ME. NOT FOR ANY REASON."
I sat back down. 30 seconds later, my husband tried to tickle me and my son got in my lap.
I got up again. I seriously thought I was going to lose it. I reset the oven timer. "TEN MINUTES, AGAIN," I said. "EVERY TIME SOMEONE TOUCHES ME IT GETS RESET TO TEN. GOODBYE."
And with that, I walked to the back of the house and into my bedroom. I closed the door and lay down on the bed. I picked up my Kindle and started to read. I heard my husband say quietly, "I think she is serious. Let's just leave her alone." I breathed out and realized I'd been holding my breath for quite some time.
Ten minutes later, or what felt like 30 second later, I heard the oven timer go off. One half of one second after that, I heard the unmistakable sound of a three-and-a-half-year-old's bare feet pounding down the oak floors of the hallway at top speed.
My bedroom door flew open. I looked up, and there was The Boy. The one I love so much I can hardly stand it. He paused, wary.
"Come give me a kiss, Boy!" I shouted. And he was on top of me, all arms and legs and smelly head. And it was so nice to be touched.
A version of this post appears on my blog.