To my family,
I love you with my entire soul. When I look at you, my children, my heart aches from the beauty of your innocence and the peace you spread with your smiles and laughter. When I see my husband, I feel warm and safe and loved. I am blessed beyond belief and thankful for every day I have with all of you.
But you have GOT to stop touching me. For five damned minutes, just stop touching me.
My sweet, sweet baby, nursing you makes me feel like a mama goddess, and looking down into your sweet, beautiful, open face is one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. You make my heart full and I love you beyond reason. But at the end of the day, I just want my boobs to myself. I want to sit down and not have tiny fingers pulling at my shirt or pinching my chest. I adore nursing you to sleep, but if you don’t close your eyes and go to sleep soon, I may crawl right out of my skin and go running down the street like a crazy person.
My amazing, big boy, your capacity for empathy is astounding and every day you impress me more with the depth of your understanding. You light up every room you enter with your smile and I will spend the rest of my days loving you, but no, emphatically no, you cannot sit in my lap right now. Between your (super sweet) constant patting and stroking of my hair, your wanting to be carried through the house because I carried your baby brother, and your inexplicable need to sit in my lap while I poop, I just cannot, for one additional moment, be touched.
My dear husband, no. Just no. Not tonight. I’m sorry. I love you dearly, but get the hell off me.
At the end of these long, hard, stressful days, with little ones constantly needing mama-ing, when I’m covered in drool and boogers and God knows what else, when I’ve eaten chicken nuggets and half a brown banana (that someone promptly asked to “share”)…at the end of the day, my dear family, your introverted mama just needs a minute.
She needs a minute to remember that she is not just a mama, but a person. Not just a wife, but a woman. Not just here for you, but for herself as well. She needs space to breathe and remember herself as she is, not just as you see her. She needs time to be the person she is, in addition to the person you need her to be.
Be patient with your mama, dear family. She is not patient with herself. She feels that she does not give enough and instead of enjoying this down time, this quiet time, she feels guilt. But, when the house is dark and quiet and soft (and loud) snores drift out of cracked doors, this mama can take a breath, thank the universe for her family…and that they are sleeping.
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I knew it would be hard, this mothering and wife-ing. I knew it would be draining—but ultimately, I knew it would be worth it. But in my heart of hearts, my secret places, I was worried and scared. When thought became reality and there was a tiny, needful person in my arms and at my breast, I was so terrified. That I would lose myself, that I would never be who I was before or who I wanted to be one day.
And I was lost. I was lost in giving myself to my family. I burned out, fast and hard. Post-partum depression was a beast, a scary, scary beast. And after that first year, I realized that I had to be a little selfish with my time and with myself. It didn’t mean that I loved you any less, my family. It meant that I had to love myself a little more, so that I could love you like you deserved.
It’s still hard, and the guilt still sneaks in. When I’m sitting alone, my guilt tells me that I should be cuddling with you, little ones. It whispers that the days are long but the years are short. It tells me that you, my loving husband, need me, too.
But, to be the best mama I can be, I have to tell my guilt to shut the hell up.
So, to any other introverted mamas who are reading this, know that you are my sister and my kindred. You are not alone. You are a good mama, despite what you may think. Take care of yourself: go for a walk, stay up late, wake up early, find your peace, and do what you need to do. Do not feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Your family will be there when you get back.
They will love you. And they will probably want to touch you, so get ready.