No, Mommy Doesn’t Want To Be Touched Right Now

Ad failed to load

When you're a mom, you're a climbing frame, a cushion, a mode of transport, and a hug machine. Motherhood is incredibly physical. The second I get home, my daughters yell, "Mom's home!" and want to leap into my lap or climb onto my shoulders. But they know that after I hug and greet them, I need five minutes to myself without being touched. I go upstairs to change into comfortable clothes, and when I return to the playroom, it's game on for the human pyramid. You are probably familiar with the concept of moms feeling "touched out" from constantly giving to their families, physically, but the reason I put in place this rule is a little more complex.

My daughters are used to jumping on my lap when we are on the couch or hanging onto my leg when I’m washing dishes in the kitchen. And I do love that we are an affectionate family — that I can give and receive, now my daughters are a little older. But there are many times when I’m completely touched out and need to not have little hands all over me. When I feel this way, I tell my daughters I do not want to be touched. If they don’t listen to me, I tell them again more forcefully. This might go against your instincts as a parent, but I think that communicating my own needs is important for teaching my daughter’s consent.

I've taught our daughters that it’s okay to ask for space when they need it.
Ad failed to load

As their primary role model, I'm demonstrating how their rights over their bodies work. My daughters know that they can’t touch me unless I tell them I want to be touched by them. This is partly just good manners, but the revelations of the past few weeks, with victim after victim coming forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment, have convinced me that this piece of education is absolutely critical. Reading each new story that surfaces, I feel heartbroken for the parents of these women, many of whom were just kids when their trust was abused. I will do everything in my power to ensure my daughters can recognize coercive and abusive tactics, and stand up to them.

Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

It's easy to hold yourself to a different standard than your children. As women, we are used to just "dealing" with uncomfortable situations with men. But I'll bet you won't just put up with this kind of behavior against your children. I'll bet just the thought of it awakens a wild beast within you. Living in a climate where numerous men in power, including the president, have been accused of harassing women, has only heightened my resolve to ensure my daughters understand they are in charge of their bodies.

Ad failed to load

I've taught our daughters that it’s okay to ask for space when they need it. Both girls request to be left alone several times a the week — and we honor those requests. They also let us know when they do not want a hug or a cuddle. They tell us when they do not want to be held or if they don’t want to be kissed. My 4 year old likes to have her back rubbed or her hair brushed when she’s going to bed, but not always. She was shy to tell me that she did not want me to rub her back one night several months ago when we were laying in bed. My sweet girl started to move away from me instead of toward me, and when I asked her why she was moving away she said she didn’t really want her back rubbed.

“Does that hurt your feelings if I say that,” she asked. “No, not at all, I told her, I’m just glad that you are honest with me and I’m proud of you for telling me.”

It’s okay to hurt other people’s feelings if they’re not listening to you and you’re feeling uncomfortable, I explained to her.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

My girls need to understand consent and how to say yes or no. Most importantly I need them to understand that they can say yes or no at any time during any situation with any person and that their words need to be accepted. So, every day I try to lead by example and show them that it’s okay to tell others no.

This technique carries over to school friends and relatives as well. We do not force them to give hugs if they don’t want to. I’ve explained to my daughters that sometimes I don’t want a hug from their dad, because I do not want to be touched, especially if it’s really hot or I’m in a bad mood. If I am hugging them and it’s been going on for a while and I feel them start to pull away, I will ask them, “Do you want me to stop hugging you so tight?” and if they say yes, I ask them to verbalize that need in the future.

Ad failed to load

It’s all a process though. Some days they stop touching me as soon as I ask, but other days it takes using a more forceful "no" before they stop. In that case, I tell them I should not have to ask more than once to not be touched, and if I do, then the second, third or fourth times are going to sound like I’m raising my voice. I said no, and they need to respect that and back away. Period.

My youngest daughter is having a more difficult time understanding personal space, or rather a hard time respecting my request to not touch me at certain times. She loves to grab my face and pull it towards hers or lay her head on my face as her little hand rubs my face. While I love her affection towards me, there are times when I just need some space. It makes me uncomfortable to always have one of them on me and they need to understand that. I’m showing them how people express their feelings and how to respond to those feelings.

Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody
Ad failed to load

I hate to hurt their feelings and I always explain that I love them, and love their hugs and kisses and cuddles, but not just at times that they want that same physical contact. I’ll use examples of when one of them didn’t want to be cuddled but I wanted to cuddle them and I had to stop because they were not in the mood and had not granted me permission to touch them. I explain that even though they didn’t want to be cuddled, I still know that they love me and may want to cuddle later. Honestly, I do feel guilty when I tell my girls not to touch me, because I have an irrational belief that moms should always want their kids around them — especially knowing how quickly our kids will stop seeking hugs and kisses from their parents. But I’m still me, and I need to not have a child draped all over me all the time.

The important lesson I want to impart is that they are in charge of their bodies — not me. And when we share a hug, or my daughter climbs on me, it's because we both feel affectionate or playful. Or because we're doing a human pyramid.

Ad failed to load

Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper’s Doula Diaries and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills