I always used to think I was quite a touchy-feely person. I hug and kiss friends and family, always say “I love you” when I hang up the phone or wave a loved one off, I’m a “snuggly sleeper” and when there is no Mr Aimee in bed with me, I have to replace him with a hot water bottle (plus, he’s made it so I have no idea how the heating works and so am always freezing).
But since I’ve had kids, something has shifted. I still love cuddles, lounging on the sofa with my feet on Mr Aimee’s lap ready for a foot rub, I need a hug at the end of a long day, and a good night kiss, however, I need to have some space now too.
I noticed it around the time The Chunky Monkey came along, after a day of enjoying snuggles from one small boy or another, breast feeding, then playing some sort of convoluted game which results in me rolling around on the floor (trying to close my eyes and nap) while Buzz Light Year uses my stomach as a trampoline, I’d put the boys to bed at 7pm and by the time they were asleep and dinner was bubbling away on the hob, I’d collapse on the sofa in a daze. Mr Aimee would leave me too it, busy making me a drink and stirring the sauce in that really annoying fashion which makes me bark “GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN”, and I’d sit there, in silence – have you ever noticed the need for silence since you’ve had kids? Where I used to put the TV on or play music, sometimes I just sit there and enjoy the silence. ANYWAY. I’d be sitting there in the silence, and the cat would come and jump on my lap.
Lovely, I love a cuddle with the cat. Except right at that very moment, it irritated me beyond all other things (even more that somebody else stirring the dinner on the hob).She’d climb up purring like she’s always done, pawing at my sore shoulders, purring into my neck, and tail swishing on my legs. I would have to lift her off, and she’d jump straight back, dribbling in my neck. It made my shoulders arch, my eyes close, and my body tense up, I needed space, I needed my body to be mine.
It’s understandable of course, back then I had two small children, I was breast feeding on regular intervals throughout the day and night, I was bound to need my space. But I didn’t anticipate it to continue on, but then, I didn’t anticipate the boundaries to be continuously broken nearly six years later.
The other day I was sitting on the sofa, I was chatting to The Beast about the weekend, What did he want to do? he was quiet for a moment, and then, without even noticing, as he started to think out loud “erm, er, maybe we could…” I realised he was just stroking my boobs through my top, perfectly naturally, and Mr Aimee and I both burst out laughing, then changing the subject (and removing his hands), we forgot about it. But from that day on, I suddenly realised that both boys are obsessed with my body, especially my chest. The other day, while we were having a Facetime with the outlaws The Chunky Monkey happily unzipped my onesie for all to see…luckily I was out of shot, and then when I was helping The Beast with his homework, he grabbed my top and held it up to my neck, and when I asked him what he was doing he responded that he was making sure nobody else saw “them”.
But it’s not just my boobs, it’s everything. I am physically manhandled all the time, and with The Chunky Monkey not being the best of sleepers sometimes it feels like I am being pawed constantly 24/7.
Standing in the playground talking to somebody, The Chunky Monkey will happily lift his hands up my top and feel my belly, or even more fun, play that bloody irritating game of “let’s see how many times I can walk through Mummy’s legs before she falls over”. I can be asleep, and wake up to somebody holding my head in headlock and breathing snot on my face. When I’m going for a wee or a poo I often have a small child clambering up on my lap to twiddle my hair or tickle my neck, in the shower the door can be opened at any moment…no not just the bathroom door, but the actual shower door, and after the initial tears of rage at water DARING to splash them in the face, they tickle my feet. I am also an expert at applying my make up for the day with various toys running up and down my legs. Trains are more painful than cars – just so you know.
Sitting down and eating dinner, talking to somebody across the table, a small hand will often grab my chin and tug my face, manoeuvring it sideways so I can be focused 100% on what they have to tell me…usually that a bean has fallen off their plate.
Holding a child on your hip to prevent them from running into the road and you realise that your scarf is being entwined around their fingers causing you to be strangled, and whilst you’re emptying the dryer, your jumper can be tugged and tugged until you part with the chore you’re doing to deal with them.
I’m not saying that it’s all horrendous, those lovely sleepy snuggles are dreamy, those running jumps into my arms after a day of nursery or school give me more energy then a bottle of lucazade, and watching a film all piled on top of each other – well that’s just perfect, however, what nobody tells you when they give you the list of everything else you “need to know” (you’ll never sleep, you’ll never get your figure back, your house will never be the same again), is that sometimes the sheer amount of physical contact, along with lack of personal space can at times be suffocating.
They tell you about the not being able to go to the loo on your own (if you suggest that I lock the door, perhaps you have been lucky enough not to have a child that a) knows how to unlock it with a 10p or b) stands screaming and kicking until you get stage fright and have to let them in). They tell you about some of the questions “why?”, but they forget to tell you about the fact that your entire existence is analysed by somebody more inquisitive then David Attenborough on safari. Not only is it the obvious stuff, (hair, private parts), but other bits “why do you have two bottoms?”, “what’s that on your chin?” “why do you have marks on your arm” often said whilst delicately stroking the part they are insulting.
IN FACT, as I write this, I realise that children are in fact, the masters of the insults. They say it so innocently, but they pick out the bit you are most self conscious about and throw it in your face.
Life as a mother, stay at home, working part time or full time, is full of physical and emotional contact, whether it’s the children trying to peel your nails off while you watch tv, or perhaps it’s your husband who thinks that while you’re lifting an apple crumble out of the oven now would be a good time to smack your bum or squeeze your boobs, then is surprised when you threaten to stab them with a skewer you’re using to test if it’s cooked. Sometimes, even a relaxing hot bath, one of the things I yearn for makes me feel claustrophobic, the hot water pulling me in, and causing me to cut it short.
I know people hate the word “me” time, but I live for the moments when everyone leaves the house, and I can sit down and have a hot cup of tea without a small child calmly removing the mug from my hand and dunking an Oreo in it.
Right, right now the kids are in bed and Mr Aimee is watching Top Gear – I might actually be able to have two minutes solitude…pass the gin.