It’s February. The month of love. And I see that look in your eyes as you come home from another long day at work.
You drop your bags and shrug off your coat, then move immediately toward the shelter of my arms, hungry for the warmth and reassurance of my touch.
I love how you love me. I love that your face lights up when you walk in the door. I love that you are able to look past the sweat pants and tired eyes and still see the woman you married seven years ago.
I love YOU.
But as you make your way toward me, one singular thought creeps in:
I don’t say a word. I smile wearily and I ask about your day, opening my arms to receive your embrace. But the way you tense slightly before brushing my shoulder speaks volumes about what we both know I’m thinking.
You feel the weight of every unspoken word.
I want so badly to be your hiding place, to be the refuge you crave when life presses in just a bit too close.
But I am so worn out.
I know you bear a hefty burden in your workplace, that you operate under stress and deadlines and expectations. I know that you shoulder the entire weight of our family’s financial well-being, and that you do so gladly in order for me to stay home full-time. I cannot even begin to imagine the pressure you feel on a daily basis.
But these two tiny humans sharing a home with us drive me to a level of exhaustion I once thought mere fable. The incessant, overwhelming awareness of constantly being needed serves as a leaky faucet on my senses, drip, drip, dripping its way into any reserve of peace or energy or, let’s be honest, libido I once enjoyed.
I love this life. I love being a mom to these kids, I love you more now than the day I said, “I do,” and I love that I’m still wildly attracted to you. But by the time 8:00 rolls around, I am talked out, touched out, and desperate for a short break alone before the cycle begins again tomorrow.
Please don’t touch me.
I’ve never actually uttered those words, but then again, I’ve never had to. You know me better than I usually know myself, and you continually offer me more grace and understanding than I could possibly deserve. You see the message in my eyes. You kiss my forehead, tackle the dishes, and give me the space I need.
You don’t touch me.
But can I let you in on a little secret?
Yes, there are plenty of evenings I fear I will scream if one more person puts their hands on me. But for the most part, when I shrink back ever so slightly from your arms or retreat into a bedroom for a few moments of solitude, what I’m trying to say is:
Please don’t touch my heart.
This season is hard. Raising children is such a privilege, such good, noble, and fulfilling work. But it requires more grit and perseverance than I feel I can muster even on my very best day, and I often find myself proverbially “toughening up” in order to survive.
I feel like a failure almost all the time. I fail myself and I fail our children, and I paste on a smile through it all, mentally reminding myself to be strong and courageous, to do my best to keep it together at least until the littles are in bed.
I know your arms are waiting for me patiently, that you are more than willing to set aside your own exhaustion and be the hiding place, the refuge I crave when life presses in just a bit too close.
But I secretly fear that allowing myself to melt into your arms would undo all the mental and emotional fortitude I’ve worked so hard to build.
I fear that the tenderness of your touch would break me wide open.
I’m full of fear, you know. Fear that I’m failing as a mom, fear that I’m failing as your wife, fear that you’ll eventually grow tired of my reticence and withdraw into your own fortress of solitude.
You’re a rock.
You give me the physical space I need while somehow managing to tear down all my misguided emotional defenses. You give me room to breathe while somehow pressing in so close I know you’ll never stop pursuing me.
And you continue to remind me, through the tenderness of your touch, that I don’t have to be hard to be strong.
I know this season is just as difficult for you as it is for me. I know it will get better, and I know (at least I pray) that someday you will return from another long day at work to find a wife who isn’t talked out, touched out, and totally exhausted.
But in the meantime…
Please don’t stop touching my heart.