“I need ten minutes. By myself, quiet, just ten minutes. I’m over my limit right now.”
“Sure thing, get the pack n play and I’ll watch her there while I cook dinner.”
And with that, I retreat upstairs to a bed, bag of chips, and glass of wine. I’m so overstimulated, I can barely get the words out.
Touched out, talked out, everything out.
Each of my fibers is screaming for me to shut down and walk away without saying a thing. Thankfully, my extrovert husband is used to this by now. And thankfully, I am used to having to at least supply a few spoken syllables, so as to not leave him completely in the dark.
“You have to tell me, out loud, what’s in your mind.” He has to remind me sometimes. It’s too easy to sit and stare into space and hope my silence says everything with nothing. It is one of our biggest compromises to date. In nine years, the ultimate mark of our partnership is my hand gently on his knee when he is too much, and his on my arm when I am too little.
When I was pregnant, we would wonder aloud which traits our future child would get from whom. Would she be loud and rambunctious like him? Would she be quiet and studious like me?
Turns out, she is both.
She is both a fire roaring and a slow ember. She is dance and laughter and squirms and restlessness; shrieks and screams and fuss and might. She is ferocious. She is vocal and opinionated, until she is not. Until she is absolutely quiet, boring holes into the universe with her deep gaze. And as her mother, I have to rise to the occasion of both. She needs me to match her pace, chasing life alongside her. And then, in abrupt stillness, she needs me to read her silence before erupting once more. As a result, we are entirely synchronized. Ballroom dancers. She’s leading and I’m trying, somehow, to fool the audience into believing otherwise. The magnitude of our bond is intimidating, heavy, broad. She needs me so much. I love her so much.
And sometimes I resent it.
Not her. Never her. She is complete nourishment. I resent my purpose. I resent that I am called to read another’s wordless pleas, when I need the same for myself. I swallow my own discomforts and hurts deeper, in order to take on hers. Standing on coals, I invite flames to lick at my skin as I pull her heat in closer to my core. I am jealous of my infant daughter.
It sounds ridiculous, I know. Even now, I am shushing myself. She didn’t bring herself into this world. You wanted this life. Millions of women would do anything to be in your place.
I resent that voice. It’s my voice. And the voice of others, to be sure. I resent that I can’t say these words without cracking under guilt and judgment. I resent that I can’t say these words without, “but I wouldn’t trade it for the world” clarification. I resent that I can’t say these words at all – because I cannot speak without my husband gently prodding, asking for the words one at a time and giving me permission to continue in honesty.
I resent that my ten minutes is up. And I resent that after a long and hard day of giving my pieces of energy to others, I have to find some sort of reserve hidden somewhere. Because I have missed her with every vein and ligament, and she needs so much of me. I am angry and hurt that I spend my time being drained by other people that aren’t her. Portioning out the mothering seems inexplicably unfair to the both of us. And tomorrow we have to do it again.
But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
What do you do to fight that feeling of being touched out?