The Physicality of Motherhood | A Great Contradiction


My entire body hurts tonight. Aches deep down to the bones. I am tired. I am sore. Even my skin hurts. I have just reminded my five-year-old daughter again to please not jump on mommy. Please don’t climb on mommy. And it is in this plea that I am reminded that I was not prepared for the physicality of motherhood. physicality_motherhood

I knew about the physicality of pregnancy; the changes I would encounter – stretched skin and swollen fingers & feet. Achy joints and breathless walks and inside baby kicks. I was prepared for the physical act of giving birth. The stages of labor. The contractions. The breathing. The pushing. The crowning. The exhaustion and soreness to follow. I was not prepared for the physical act of motherhood afterward.

I was not prepared for the endless amount of touching and kicking and hitting and hugging.

I was not prepared for the use of my body as a human jungle gym; a bed; a food source; a punching bag; a pacifier; a comfort tool.

Deep down, I am an introvert. A lover of quiet and personal space. I am not a hugger. I don’t like to shake or hold hands. I am not a cuddler. Crowded spaces and public displays of affection make me uncomfortable.

This is who I am, and I’m not likely to ever change.

But those sweet little girls who call me Mama do not know or care about these traits of mine.

I am who they come to with their joys and sorrows. I am who they come to for hugs and kisses and playtime and full-body tantrums. I am the one who sleeps sitting up when the baby wants to nurse all night. I am the warm body my five-year-old snuggles into in the middle of the night when she feels alone. I am the arms and hips carrying them when they’re tired or clingy or shy. I am the cheeks they kiss and the torso and legs they hug a million times a day.

I want to teach them boundaries with their bodies; with the bodies of others. I want them to know that ‘NO’ means NO. I want them to know the meaning of ‘no more’ and ‘don’t touch’ and that it’s ok to give and receive these messages. Sometimes, we’ve all just had enough. Sometimes, I just want to scream at everyone to just stop touching me.

physicality_motherhoodAt the same time, I want to be their safe place. I want to be the shoulder they cry on and the arms that swing them and the hands they hold. I want to be the face they kiss and the legs they cling to and the feet they step on. I want to be the lap they crawl into and the warm body they curl into when they feel alone in the world. I want to be the one they always come back to for their joys and sorrows and in-betweens.

It’s such a contradiction – to be completely touched out, yet craving their hugs and kisses and cuddles. So, when I’ve had enough – when I really am all touched out – I take even just ten minutes to myself. Ten minutes to slide back into myself and be alone and quiet and withdrawn. And then I meet those little bodies again with open arms, ready to take on this physical act of motherhood with every kick and hug and tantrum and kiss. 

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Samantha is a native of small-town Southern Indiana who loves exploring the Circle City with her husband and their daughters, Kate (October 2011) and Isla (December 2015). After finishing a degree in Professional Writing at Purdue, Sam made her way to the greater Indianapolis area where she learned to embrace the lack of hills and abundance of interstate. After an 8-year career in business development and marketing, she’s taken a step back from the corporate world to focus on her own business – GrayGirl Designs – where she designs invitations, stationary, and business materials and offers marketing services, graphic design, and résumé writing. When she’s not trying to balance family and her business, she enjoys (in no particular order): Jazzercize, yoga, crafting, horseback riding, way too much coffee, and hiking. Sam is also a melanoma survivor and a passionate advocate of skin cancer and sun safety education and awareness.