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My dear husband-
It’s late. Before kids.
I’m wearing sweats and an old T-shirt. I noticed my pants have some food on the leg. Did it happen tonight? Or was it stained with yesterday’s dinner? It’s hard to say. I was in such a hurry, I took a moment to change before I heard a toddler’s quick steps heading toward the toilet. I grabbed the first thing I saw, I’m not entirely sure these aren’t your socks on my feet.
I don’t feel attractive. I’m dressed for comfort and function. This shirt has been pulled and stretched by tiny hands, its original shape lost months ago. This is not “effortlessly cute,” it’s an effortless disaster. At least that’s how I feel.
He’s finally asleep, our sweet little boy. My next struggle now begins, the one where I have to decide how to spend my time. Do I tackle the dishes? Put away toys, fold laundry, even think about holiday cards? Or sit down.
I sit. I put my feet up and close my eyes because I finally can. I don’t have to be at attention, ready to sprint after a child who somehow outsmarted a baby gate. Or feel like the safety of that child is dependent upon my being able to look in five different directions at once. My time is my own, for now at least. These precious few hours are mine.
You want to cuddle. You miss me, being near me. We run at full speed all day, often in directions opposite from one another. Sometimes I forget that this time isn’t just mine, it’s ours. But tonight I can’t bring myself to share this time. I love you, I miss you. Yes, I also still need and want you. Just not tonight.
I see the hurt in your face as I stiffen under your touch. The sad eyes that quickly look away as you assure me that “it’s okay.” I know it’s not. You need to understand, we both need you to understand.
It’s not you. This isn’t that infamous cliche, the “it’s not you, it’s me” line. Sure – it is those words – but in this case it’s the truth. It really is just about me.
When we saw that second, pastel line appear on the pregnancy test my body no longer was my own. It was growing our child, protecting him until he was ready to join us. After he was born it was wrought with postpartum hormones while it fed him.
Now I've added jungle gym, human Kleenex and step stool the list of roles my body fills on a daily basis. My hair gets pulled. My arms and legs are grabbed and tugged. Sometimes I get bitten.
Yesterday our sweet little angel screeched so loudly into my ear that it was ringing for a few seconds.
By the time he goes to sleep I feel lighter. And I am, 25.6 lbs. to be exact. I no longer have a small human hanging off my various limbs, or insisting I carry him everywhere. My eyes quickly scan the clock as I calculate how many more hours until it begins all over again.
I don’t dread my days of motherhood. I just relish this nightly break, the time after he goes to sleep and before I do. It’s my time to do as I want or need. And tonight I need to not be touched.
Please, know this isn’t you. My body just can’t handle one more minute of human contact tonight.
Just as you told me, back when I needed comforting during the seemingly endless newborn days, this won’t last forever. This is only for tonight, and it’s important that I have this time. I promise that you’re important also.
I’m still trying to find the balance, and I will. Just not tonight.
For more of my mom journey follow me on Instagram at Witty Otter.
Images by Becky Vieira
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.