"Please don't touch me!"
My hardworking husband has just arrived home, after taking two trains and walking in 90 degree heat from the station to our suburban home. He's tired, sweaty and simply trying to hug his wife hello.
He feels rejected and I feel terrible—but as a work-from-home mom and the primary caretaker of our two children, I spend most of my days serving as a human jungle gym. And sometimes I just need my own space.
When I'm not playing doctor or hair salon with my daughter Lilly, she wants to sit on my lap and read books. My 15-month-old son Oliver, who is going through some serious separation anxiety, is attached to me at all times. When one is with me, the other is jealous. I try to squeeze in work when I can, often answering an email while my baby bangs on my laptop and my kindergartener complains for more crackers. My shirt is typically covered in Oliver's lunch; my hair, which goes for days without getting brushed, often has some not-quite-identifiable substance in it; and I'm exhausted and on the verge of tears, at all times.
While plenty of women probably argue that they don't get enough affection from their husband (don't get me wrong, the same can sometimes be said here too), the last thing I want at the end of a day—while I'm knee-deep in making dinner, refereeing over playtime, refilling water bottles and cleaning up spills, all while listening to a constant chorus of cries—is one more person wanting something from me, even if it’s a platonic peace offering.
What I need is a timeout. A long, hot shower. A glass of wine. Some time to scroll social media. To pick up one of the three books on my nightstand that continue to taunt me but are never cracked open. To watch a show that doesn't involve Disney characters. Preferably all of the above. In bed. Alone.
I need personal space. I need to not be someone's mama or wife. I need to be me and only me, if just for a moment. I want to pee in private. To be able to hear my own thoughts. To stay still. I don't want to drop off or pick up, sign any papers, grab any groceries, do any dishes, wipe anyone's nose, solve anyone's argument or listen to anyone's day. I just want to escape mine.
And then, once I've had my (brief and fleeting but extremely critical) me time, I want to return to my family, who I love madly and passionately, and have that dance party, read all the books, do the bedtime routine and hug and kiss them like crazy before I wake up to do it all over again.
Published September 2018
Natalie Thomas is a lifestyle blogger at Nat's Next Adventure and creator of the new moms platform @momecdotes. She's also an Emmy-nominated TV producer, contributor to Huffington Post, Today Show, Mother Mag, Hey Mama and Well Rounded, and former editor and spokesperson of Us Weekly. She's addicted to Instagram and seltzer water, lives in New York with her tolerant husband, Zach, her daughter Lilly and her son, Oliver. She's always in search of her sanity and, more importantly, the next adventure.