Friday, August 29, 2014

The Struggles of an Introverted Mom

Many of my friends are extremely surprised to find out that I am an introvert. Being an introvert means that I get recharged by being alone, rather than by being in a group of people. I don’t necessarily dislike being in a large group, but I do find it exhausting rather than invigorating, and at a certain point I need to take a break away from other people to recharge my emotional batteries.

When you’re a stay-at-home mom, you don’t often get chances to be alone. Your children are always with you. To someone who is an extrovert, or who falls somewhat in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum, having small children around barely counts as having people around. But to a true introvert like myself, it can be a struggle never having a moment alone to recharge, away from your children. When I wake up in the morning, my kids are either running in to greet me or waiting for me to come and play with them. When they’re playing games, or eating lunch, or reading a book, they want me close by to keep them company. When I go in my office, or the laundry room, or the bathroom, there is nearly always a small person following me, asking where I am and what I’m doing. When it’s time for them to go to bed, they beg for me to read to them, to sing to them, to tell them a story, to come and give them just one more kiss. I am NEVER ALONE.

It’s exhausting.

But here’s the real struggle: I love being with my kids. Honestly, I adore spending time with them. I don’t want to miss that moment when they figure out how to put the puzzle together or how to sound out that long word or how to do a somersault without any help. I WANT to be with them all the time. Except for the part of me that needs a break.

Luckily, my daughter still takes a nap every afternoon, and my son is old enough to have a bit of unsupervised computer time while she sleeps. That brief window is what allows me to survive my day. For maybe half an hour, sometimes even for a whole hour, I get to sit quietly and read a book, or fold laundry, or scrub the kitchen counters, or sit in the sunshine, or take a shower, ALL BY MYSELF. I don’t have to talk to anyone, I don’t have to smile at anyone, I don’t have to acknowledge anyone. I can pretend that there is no-one else on the entire planet except me.

And after that brief interlude, I’m ready to face the world again. My batteries are recharged, my energy has returned, my spinning mind has quieted itself. I am ready to have a conversation, whether it’s with one of my children, one of their teachers, the cashier at the grocery store, my husband, my best friend, or some random mom at the playground.

And even though I can’t tell yet whether my children will turn out to be introverts like their mom or extroverts like their dad, I think they kind of like having that little break from my company, too. I just hope they don’t like it too much. Introvert or not, I still love spending as much time as I can with my children, while they are still children. There will be plenty of time for me to be alone when they’re grown up. 

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