You know that book about love languages? The one that talks about whether you receive love through words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch? Many people can say with certainty what they are drawn to and how they receive love. I can’t. But I can tell you what I am not: physical touch.
My husband is the absolute, all-around, number one champion of words of affirmation. So much so, that I have to squint my eyes at him sometimes to see if he’s being facetious, genuine, or both–which is true in most cases. This even crosses the line into supporting bad habits. Take ice cream, for example.
“Should I have ice cream?” I’ll say aloud mostly to myself.
“Babe, you should totally have ice cream. You owe it to yourself. You work so hard.”
He could have said, “No,” and I probably still would have eaten it. But does it taste better when it feels justified? You better believe it.
If my husband buys me a gift, I think, “How sweet!” And I love it, even though I usually end up having to take part in rectifying it in our monthly budget meeting. Still, he thought me worth the cash, and that makes me feel good.
My favorite thing to do is spend time with my husband, and having my (happy) kids there is a major bonus. Quality time all the way.
He does the dishes and I think, “Thank the Lord, I was about to start killing the environment with paper and plastic.” I love me some acts of service.
To recap, a nearly even split between the love languages. Then there’s physical touch.
When you have a baby attached to your body for nourishment several times a day, that is kind of enough. Add a toddler hanging on you and constantly needing a point of contact, and it is more than enough. I am so grateful I had the chance to nurse both of my kids, but when my son had to stop nursing at nine months, I was sad for 24 hours, and mostly because it was unexpected. After that, it wasn’t hard to rejoice in the thrill of having my body to myself.
I realized my problems with physical touch when I could no longer seem to control the demand on my body. There were times I got so overloaded on “touch,” that I completely snapped and demanded, “Everyone please stop touching me!” This was often met with tears and the need for comfort, which means picking up a child. Backfiring at its finest.
When I am not nursing, physical touch and I are mostly okay. I still have to teach my kids what “Mama needs some space” means, but unless I am truly at my wit’s end, I won’t turn away a nuzzle into my shoulder or a giant bear hug. You can almost always scratch my back or play with my hair, and I love a good massage. But if you try to touch me after being a human playground that has been spit-up on and snotted on while regularly sacrificing my body for the nourishment of my child, physical touch and I are most certainly not okay.
If that is where you are, nursing mama or not, I would like to tell you that you are totally normal. But all I can actually offer you is this: you’re at least as normal as I am. So rock out those other love languages and leave physical touch to the huggers.