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.
On top of this, breastfeeding is mentally overwhelming, since the typical breastfeeding day looks something like this:
Of course I have to get up with the kids again, because I’m the one with the breast milk. If my husband gets up, I’ll just have to pump anyway.
…I have four meetings today. When am I going to pump?
…Meeting ran over. Need to pump in car on way home. Did I bring battery packs?
…Shit. I spilled breast milk on myself and on the car.
…Everyone’s eating dinner and the baby picked now to be hungry for milk
…aaaand now my dinner is cold.
…Bedtime. Baby crying. Husband and son say “she wants milk”. Back to it.
Anyway. On top of all of this, my three-and-a-half-year-old son really, really likes to be touching me, 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.
Back to the touching. The boy needs to sit next to me at all time. Not next to me on the same side of the table. Next to me with our chairs and bodies touching.
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. 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, “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, aka what felt like 30 second later, I heard the oven timer go off. 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 door flew open. I looked up, and there was The Boy. The one I love so much I can hardly stand it. He paused.
“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.