There are certain things with parenting that when admitted out loud you need to be prepared for the backlash.
Certain topics that you know will end in accusations and name-calling.
This is one of them.
This is one of those topics that ends in a Facebook slanging match with faceless posters telling you that you don’t appreciate what you have. With the accusation squarely served at you that other people out there would give anything for it, that you are ungrateful.
The confession I am about to make is one that usually only pops up at those late arvo mother’s groups when you’ve had a glass of wine and are relaxed for once, or on a rare night out.
It’s almost a taboo topic.
It’s also one of those things that while it might be something we complain about we know that one day, in the future, we will look back with fondness and wish we could have that time over again.
But it doesn’t stop the feeling right now.
It doesn’t stop that soundless scream in your head at times. It doesn’t stop that suffocating feeling you get of just wanting to be left alone.
The experts calling it ‘touched out syndrome’.
I call it love-smothering. That feeling of being so over-touched, over-hugged, over-pulled at and grabbed and snotted on and vomited on and covered in another person’s bodily fluids that all your brain can do is scream silently LEAVE ME ALONE.
I feel guilty admitting it, really heart wrenchingly guilty because I know how much I love my children. I know how much on normal, ordinary days I can’t get enough of them. I know how at times when they are at school or daycare I crave them physically, the warmth of their touch, the sweet sweaty smell of their hugs.
But I also know that there are days of carrying and cuddling and hand holding and nurturing that end with an overwhelming sensation of just wanting to reach across to that tiny body that has snuck into your bed in the depths of the night and quietly (so as to not wake it up) slide it as far away as possible across the sheets to get some space.
Sweet relief of space.
Psychologist Christiane Manzella told She Knows it’s not unusual.
"From breastfeeding to rocking a fussy baby, it can be so physically intimate and emotionally demanding that you may not want to be touched any more than you already are. You may be in physical pain, or you may feel claustrophobic. You may also just feel protective of your body. These are all normal reactions," Dr. Manzella says.
For some women it extends to their physical relationship with their partners, they feel so 'touched out' from their children that the thought of being touched by another adult can make them anxious and stressed.
“When my kids were really young I couldn’t stand my husband touching me at the end of the day,” a friend explains.
“It wasn’t just the sex I wasn’t interested in, it was even nearness on the couch. I just wanted to be left alone.”
She says luckily her husband understood and now their youngest has reached the age of three she can happily sit next to her beloved and watch House of Cards without wanting to shove him off the couch.
For me it comes with tiredness, a long day of work, a child wanting to sit in my lap while I write, another who won’t go to sleep without holding my hair, a child who just wants to be held.
I know that one day I will look back and wish more than anything for a tiny voice to come to me in the night and ask for just one more cuddle, more than anything I will want one more kiss at the school gate and more than anything I will wish to have lapped up the love-smothering.
For me the guilt that comes with the feeling is hard to get past.
Do you remember when you were pregnant and you dreamed about holding your baby. Then you had him and every time someone reached for him and took him off you you physically ached for him back.
It’s hard to equate that mother with the one who finds herself sighing at times when a tiny voice says, “I just want to sleep in here with you tonight Mama.”
The fact is that deep down our children are hard to resist and so I push past the irritation and hold out my arms and let them slip in reminding myself that if there is anything we should want to be smothered in, it is love.
What's your favourite thiing to do when you have some alone time?