I recently read a blog post that could potentially change my life. Within a a couple paragraphs, it felt like a beam of light burst above my head and my whole life suddenly made sense. Let me share this story – and you can just act like I wrote it, because it’s exactly how I have felt.
“Years ago, I was chatting with my sister-in-law, who had babies at around the same time I did. She was talking about how much she loved her kids. When they were napping, she would go in and watch them sleep. Sometimes, she said, she was tempted to wake them up so that she could play with them.
When I heard that, I felt as if I was punched in the gut. I had never, in my few years as a parent, felt that way. Did she have some kind of innate mothering instinct that I lacked?
… parenting was emotionally exhausting. I felt trapped. I lived for nap time and bedtime. If one of the kids woke up early, I felt rage. I was desperate to get time away from them in any way I could. My overwhelming thoughts when they were napping were, Please don’t wake up. Please give me a little more time to myself. Please, just a few more minutes. I couldn’t imagine waking them up on purpose unless there was a fire.”
As a baby, Stevie was never a great sleeper. He needed to be held and rocked constantly. And when I finally got him napping on his own, I would take that time to curl up in a ball on the couch and just watch TV. I wanted to do nothing. I was too tired and overwhelmed to clean the house or get work done. I just needed to veg out. No matter how much I told myself “I should be using this time for something productive”, I couldn’t seem to peel myself off the couch. And no matter how long Stevie napped, it wasn’t enough. When I heard him cry for me, I would get a pit in my stomach, knowing it was time to get going again.
And I don’t know why I’m writing this in the past tense, because I still do it to this day.
So, I have often felt abnormal as a mother. Like I was missing some gene or there was a glitch in my make-up. I felt so guilty for not wanting to spend every waking moment with my child. For such a long time.
I’m sure you can imagine when I started to read this story, I couldn’t wait to see what was “wrong” with this other mother too! Someone shares these awful ragey feelings with me? It was so exciting! She was diagnosed (so to speak) by a therapist a couple sessions later.
“… you’re an introvert,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with you beyond the fact that you need time to yourself to refuel and recharge. You are running on empty. And you need to stop beating yourself up over the fact that you need time alone. It’s how you’re wired.”
I’d never considered myself an introvert. I’m not shy. I’m not scared to speak to a room full of people. I consider myself a “people person.” I always assumed those traits meant I was an extrovert. But as I began to read some of the books my therapist suggested, it became clear: I’m an introvert. I need a lot of downtime to recharge for social interaction.”
WHAT! An introvert?! Could I possibly be an introvert too?? Is this why I have these similar feelings? I’m also not shy. I’m also not scared to speak to a room of people. I also consider myself a people-person. So I also assumed I was an extrovert.
But the more I’m learning, the more I’m understanding how I fit into the introvert mold. For me in particular, it’s not really about being in groups of people or being fun at parties. It’s not a social thing. It’s not even about how good of a mother I can be. It’s more about the time I need to recharge after doing all those things. I need a lot of time. And while most people need some alone time once in awhile, introverts like me just need more of it. It might be a clue into why I’ve been dreaming of traveling all alone too.
It seems completely contradictory to my love language – which happens to be on the extreme side of “quality time” – but I guess I’ve got a whole love me, now leave me alone thing going on there. Haha. Who wants to figure that one out?
I can’t tell you how liberating it has been to find this out though. As I shared the article with Paul, he stood there and nodded. A couple times he said “You totally could have written this.” And when I told him the outcome, he was like “OK, yes. That makes sense! And the more difficult Stevie is, the more of an introvert you become.”
I wanted to shout from the rooftops. I’M NOT CRAZY!! I’M JUST AN INTROVERT!!
And here’s the best part: I finally understand why I need to be a little gentler on myself. Why I need to let myself off the hook. Why I have felt like I don’t measure up. I have always been so hard on myself when I have the negative feelings toward Stevie and motherhood. I have always put so much pressure on myself to not desire that alone time. But guess what? It doesn’t mean I love Stevie less than other moms love their kids! It’s just how I’m wired. I just need to recharge to be able to give this ultra demanding kid 100% while we are together.
So my lovely readers – now I’m on a mission. Do you guys have any other book or article recommendations for introverts? Or better yet, for introvert parenting? I joined a Facebook group called Introverts are Awesome. But truly, I don’t know how to be an introvert. And I want to learn about this side of my personality so that I can manage my me-time appropriately and take better care of myself.