To the touched out mama
I am the first to admit that I am not the best mom out there and that I fail every day in some area or another. While it may appear that I have it all together please rest assured that I am constantly losing some sort of battle in my life. Whether that battle is at home, at work or internally with myself just varies on the day and situation.
I think as moms that we all are searching for that perfect balance but at the same time we know it is an unattainable unicorn that we will never be able to find. When one thing seems to be going really well, the ball is dropped on another. I get a promotion and am killing it at work meanwhile, my husband and I aren’t talking and I forgot to pack the kids lunches.
It is no wonder that I am plagued daily with mom guilt, heavy expectations that no one specifically is placing on me but yet they are there, mixed with hormonal imbalances and just normal life stress. It can be a lot. It is a lot.
This past weekend was a bit of a breaking point for me and if I am being really honest, I would say it’s the most mom guilt I have felt in a while. My husband had to work a lot and it was just me and the three kids home majority of the entire weekend. All weekend long. I ended the work week on Friday exhausted and tapped out only to come home to work even harder on the weekend being in mom mode full time.
By Sunday, I didn’t want to look at anyone. My oldest daughter was craving attention and begging me to watch her flips and her new moves she learned in dance, my son was asking questions about Pokémon I have never heard of and asking me every twelve seconds where the switch charger was, and the baby who I can only equivalent her to a cute, soft, heavy limp piranha was just glued to my boobs the entire weekend. I was so done.
My husband came home from work Sunday night and I couldn’t look at him, I couldn’t look at anyone. I had waited for that point to do the hand off and to just take a shower alone. Mind you, he had worked all weekend and was not away from us by choice, fingers and back hurting, and still he took the baby and initiated the kids bedtime routine. I think he could just see it on my face.
So off I went, I didn’t grab a towel, nothing. Just literally sprinted towards the shower. And in that shower alone for all of the uninterrupted four minutes I had I just pressed my back against the wall and quietly sobbed. You know the kind. The sob that no one ever knows about and you can’t pinpoint exactly what got you here but you know you just need this and you couldn’t stop it if you wanted to because you just have to get this out sob.
After the shower, I felt better but I still felt this inner gut feeling of remorse and anger. At myself. For not being the mom I should have been that weekend, for not giving them the best of me. Mix that with fear that I am messing them up and sprinkle on the fact that I still didn’t want to be touched despite knowing and being aware that this is not good. My nipples that felt like ground beef had been used as a teether for too long, my brain couldn’t store one more legendary Pokémon move, and my eyes still couldn’t watch anymore twirls.
And then it hit me, I am touched out. I have read about this. This is it. Being touched out is real and from what I have read, it is normal. And it rears in different forms. Mine unfortunately is this withdrawn annoyed attitude. The kind where you are just over it and snappy. Is it fair to my kids? No it isn’t but it’s something I am aware of and working on.
And you may be asking, how could you not want those little hands on you? Those sweet little grubby hands attached to that body that seems unable to just sit still for one second on your lap attached to that wiggly body that just whacked you in the face with a hairbrush, how could you not want to watch those dance moves, or help your son find the charger for the forty seventh time in two hours but the truth is. I want to do all those things. Well, that may be a lie. But I do want to be a good, caring, loving, warm mother. It is just hard right now in this season. It is hard to be all that I have to be in so many roles. They should get the most of my energy and love but sometimes the scales are off. The pie chart is broken and something else sucks it out of me before I make it to them.
Whether you work all day or are home with the kids all day, we as moms are around people who need us ALL DAY. Every single day. I can’t think of a day that I haven’t had to be of service to someone who needs something from me. Ever. And while I love what I do and I love love being a mom, it can take a toll on you sometimes.
Thankfully, it's becoming more common for moms to talk about what we are feeling. Some moms feel so touched out that they don't want to hug, kiss, love on, etc. in any way with their children or partner after a long day or at certain moments. Have you ever felt this way? When you feel yourself physically cringing at the thought of someone touching you?
I don’t think it’s a difficult thing to grasp yet we are so full of guilt over this it can just make us sick. There’s no other time in life that someone is so dependent upon you, and their neediness is just so intense sometimes. I equate motherhood to the best thing I have ever done, but also the hardest and this falls into the “things that make it the hardest” box.
So now I know that when I feel touched out, it’s actually not your body saying “I need the touching to stop. “It’s your body saying “You’re reaching your limit here. You need a break.” It’s a warning sign to you that it’s time to recharge. So I am making a promise to myself that I will start doing something healthy and positive to counter this touched out feeling because this is an extended season of my life and I want to be my best. For me, for my children, and for my husband who takes the brunt of a lot that I am going through.
So, what should you do when you feel touched out?
I am not an expert here, as you probably have figured out. And I have no magic cure or prevention method but I do have suggestions that I have taken from other articles and I plan to do these things myself. Will they work all the time? I am going to go ahead and vote no. But we have to try right?
Self-care is number one and seems like the obvious choice. Not feasible to get a hot stone massage and a pedicure every day or week but this can be whatever that looks like for you. It might involve alone time, if that’s what feels right to you. But don’t let feeling touched out push you away from others, if connection is something that energizes and restores you. Maybe all you need is that good secret shower sob and some chocolate pretzels to feel better and get back into the swing. It can be even harder when you feel like you have no support, so please find someone with a shoulder and that is your person. It doesn’t have to be your wife or husband but it sure makes a difference when it is. I was alone emotionally with my first two children and nearly lost my mind. Now, I have an amazing husband that will just hold me and tell me that I am a good mom even when we both know I took it too far, or that I should have done things differently. I can’t even tell you how much that is worth.
Regardless of your plan to counter attack the touched out feeling, I want you to know that when you feel this way, you are not alone. I am right there with you with a glass of Riesling in one hand, and my fat baby piranha in the other. You can do this and you were made for this. Tell judgey Karen that thinks you are a bad mom and would just give anything in the world for that time you are wishing away to kick mother freaking rocks and pour another glass.