I Hate Being Touched, Especially By My Kids

Photo: tommaso79 / Shutterstock
woman alone holding her hands

I don't particularly enjoy having another body close to mine unless it's on my terms. I rather enjoy my personal space and while I fully admit to being a hugger, I don't particularly enjoy it when a stranger presses their body against me in public.

It's become a lot worse in the last several years, to the point I can't even enjoy a walk through Times Square because of all the touching. Subways? Nope. Large crowds? Strong pass. Invade my space on an airplane? GAH.

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It's not even the germs, the smell, or the risk of pick-pockets. It's just that I don't like to be touched, period. (Also, there might be a tiny underlying fear about being caught in a stampede.)

My fear of being touched manifests itself in interesting lifestyle choices. For instance, I only go to male gynecologists because they get in, do their job, get out. Every female gynecologist I've been to seems to think "Oh, hey. I have one of these! We're in the sisterhood of vaginas so I'm just going to touch you all over your legs in an effort to be calming and comforting!" when all it really does is traumatize me.

Before you think, "YOUR POOR HUSBAND!" I assure you he is in his own class. He can touch me. He can touch me all day (and all night!) long without any problems. He knows me well enough to know where, when, and how to touch what.

I also have a best friend who happens to be the snuggliest best friend in the world. My husband actually gets jealous sometimes when the two of us huddle up together watching movies on the couch. 

And my kids? Well, I'm about to admit a few things parents aren't supposed to admit because we're supposed to love our children all the time no matter what, and I do! Of course, I do. But here's the truth: I hate being touched by my kids. If I move away from my husband and start reading a book, he knows it's nothing personal; I simply need a little alone time.

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My children, on the other hand, don't pick up on similar social cues and enjoy being on me, by me, under me, next to me, and around me every moment of my life. They beg me to snuggle them, let them sit in my lap, and tickle their backs. (You don't know what it's like to be in demand until you have two little girls crying because you can only tickle one back at a time.)

And I get it, I'm their mom and it's part of my job to cuddle them, hold them, tickle them, and kiss their little cheeks until they beg me to stop — and most of the time I'm okay with that. I've accepted that I'm their gravity and they feel most stable when they're as close to me as possible, even when I'm sick or working.

Even when my husband tries to keep my daughters away from me, they're like little heat-seeking missiles and within seconds of turning his back, they're spooning me on both sides.

Most of the time, I have no problem dropping everything and curling up with them, but it's during those moments when I can't bear to be touched and they won't leave me alone that I want to scream and yell in frustration.

But I don't. Because my kids don't understand that part of being human yet, the part that wants to get away from all other humans.

While my oldest is beginning to figure out alone time and personal space, the little one won't catch on anytime soon. Sometimes I feel like an even bigger assh*le because there are parents who have children who don't like to hug them or kiss them or argue over which parent is best.

But nowhere did I sign away all of my personal dignities and personal space the moment I became pregnant. I also apparently missed the contract that stated I was supposed to love every moment of motherhood. I'm not one of those moms.

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Some parts of the motherhood gig suck, just as some parts of any job suck and I choose to acknowledge them. I've heard a lot of women complain about their husbands: "How dare he try to touch me after I spent all day being touched by his children! They need me! He doesn't!"

Whoa, whoa, whoa, sister. Balance is everything. If you find yourself at the end of the day absolutely dreading your partner's touch because you didn't moderate your personal space during the day, it's worth looking into your priorities. I enjoy curling up with my kids, but I also know there are times when I don't, and THAT'S OKAY.

It's not them, it's me, and I make that very clear to them. In fact, I never tell them I'm too busy, too overwhelmed, or too tired for a hug. I never tell them I hate being touched by my kids or don't want them near me. Instead, I explain why sometimes I'm cozier than others.

I tell them it doesn't make you a terrible person, it just makes me human. And then I tell myself the same thing.

Casey Mullins is a vintage blogger, storyteller, and mental illness combatant. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.