Posted by: Hannah | 07/15/2010

touch me not

As a small child, I remember trying to hug my mother.  Or cuddle with her during those brief periods when she sat down.  Always, she would go stiff and cringe away from me.  Or jump to her feet.  Or flat-out tell me to stop, she didn’t want to be touched.

I could never understand it.  I wanted hugs all the time.  I couldn’t get enough of them.  I would sit in my nanny’s lap for as long as she’d let me, swaying back and forth in her rocking chair, listening to the wood creak while I stroked her cheek and marveled at how soft the skin was.

I would ask my mother to hold me the same way.  I don’t remember that she ever did.  I never doubted that she loved me, but her touch was a rare and treasured thing.  When I was sick, her hand laid on my forehead was feather-light and cool.  When the hurts I suffered were the kind that damage your psyche rather than your knees, she would hug me then, short and tight… but it was never enough, and always she ended it before I was ready to let her go.

My oldest is a cuddler, a snuggler, a touch-junkie always looking for the next fix.  From the time he was an infant, he couldn’t sleep unless he was touching someone.  Naps took place propped up in my lap on a pillow, his mouth slack from falling asleep nursing again, face slightly sticky as it pressed against me.  He wanted to hold hands in the car, sit on a lap to watch TV.  Daring to sit still was an invitation to have him drop on you, push his head back against your chest, and run his fingers up and down your arms.

If he sees me writing, he jumps up next to me, presses his whole body in, pushes at me with his feet.

I can’t stand it.

My skin shrinks away from him.  I stiffen and lean away, and sometimes jump to my feet in frustration, just like my mother did.  I talk to him about personal space and asking before you cuddle and needing time to yourself.

Sometimes I say “just please, please don’t touch me right now”.

I’m all touched out.  I feel raw, sunburned by their love and their need.

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Responses

  1. Oh my gosh, I can relate to this. Forgive yourself for it, though. Just because you, occasionally, fall on that spectrum of shooing them away doesn’t mean that your kids are going to remember you as being physically cut off. Unless you physically cut them off. And I suspect you’re a long way from that. xo

  2. E’s a touch junkie too, also since birth, and we have those same discussions and shrinking. I do indulge him a lot, but I have a limit and he needs to learn to respect how other people want to be touched. I always remind that he wouldn’t like it if he asked me to stop tickling him and I didn’t…

    I think that’s one of the hardest things of this gig.

  3. I hear that. It lessens as they get older so u can enjoy it, but that raw need? Gah. Horrid.

  4. I know what you mean. My youngest was colicky and clung to me all the time. He’s gotten less touchy with time, but I remember years of having him attached to my body and I just couldn’t bear the thought of more touching.

  5. i am finding this too. for me it’s not so much touch with the kids – though if Dave reaches out to even so much as touch my shoulder after a full day with them i’m a ramrod of Touch Me Not – but the constant Mommy Mommy chorus that just saturates until i could scream. it’s too bad, the extreme of it all. i love them. but the need, the constant relentlessness of it…it’s hard.


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