One recent morning, I was sitting on the couch holding the baby, who had dozed off in my arms. My husband used the rare moment of stillness as an opportunity to sit down and put his arm around me. My son saw us and decided this was the perfect time for a snuggle on the couch and squeezed in on my other side. It should have been an idyllic family moment where we were all sitting in affectionate harmony. Instead, I snapped “Ok, there are too many fingers on me right now.”
I was touched out. You know how that feels, right? It happens after the baby has needed to be held for hours and spends all the time in your arms making little clutchy-clutchy movements with her hands that pinch your arms and scrape your colllar bone. You’ve been nursing half the night and feel like if anyone else lays a hand on you, your skin will peel off. In fact, you kind of wish it would just to be untouchable for a little while.
Being the mom to small children means being the comforter in chief. Someone always needs a hug, or a snuggle, or breast. It’s impossible to say no to most of the requests for contact. The baby needs to eat. The boo-boo-needs to be kissed. Your spouse needs a hug when they walk in the door. There is an endless demand on you for physical contact and some days, it’s just too much.
I don’t always cope with being touched out as well as I should and I act like a cat who doesn’t want to be petted anymore. That’s not a great outcome and tends to make my son and husband feel unwanted, since they get shunted to the side before the baby does. Figuring out how to deal with my need for some personal space while balancing the needs of the people who love to occupy my personal space is something I need to prioritize.
I try to grit my teeth and tolerate the touching when there’s no escape. I remind myself that nap time is coming or my son is headed off to school for a few hours and that I can curl up in a corner of the couch by myself if I just gut it out. Even handing off the baby to my husband and going into the kitchen to do dishes or something can be a huge relief if I’m touched out. Being able to leave both kids at home and go to the store by myself is blissful. No one at Trader Joe’s ever tries to crawl in my lap and I love them for it.
Most importantly, I try to remind myself that my kids won’t always be little enough to pile on top of me, nor will they always want to. A time is coming when my son won’t want storytime snuggles and the baby won’t snooze on my shoulder so I should appreciate it while I can.
How do you deal with feeling touched out?
Photo credit: photo stock
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