Lifestyles of the Introvert Mother

Lifestyles of the Introvert Mother

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.”

(ORIGINAL ARTICLE FOUND HERE)

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.

Because that will ultimately help me take better care of Stevie.

13 Comments
  1. OMG!!! This is so me!!! I’ve only discovered that I’m an introvert in the past couple of years. This is also hard on me right now because my youngest is 5, about to start kindergarten & I’m 45 years old!!! My poor baby has no friends because my friends’ babies are in high school and the younger moms just aren’t people I can hang with…..I know it will be better when he starts school and starts making friends on his own. My husband thinks I’m crazy because I would love to take a trip all by myself. Lol!! Such a great post. Thank you so much for sharing an showing me that I am not a freak.

  2. Read this too and it and a light went off! I have the Quiet book from the library and things are ringing true from it…and although I test as an extrovert, I do find the recharging after being social to be true. I think we are all so complex as people…and figuring out what we need, what makes us tick, what makes our lives work for us best is so important! I hope you find out what you need! (And giving yourself grace as a Mom is always the first step I think! And the hardest!)

  3. I don’t like the word introvert, because that just doesn’t fit my personality, but I definitely like my alone/quiet time. I remember the little dance I would do when both the kids had fallen asleep. It was one of the highlights of my day! I knew I had done my best with them, and now I was going to get some selfish ME time.
    I’m sure that part of your being an ‘introvert’ has to do with the fact that you guys are always on the go. The park every day, out of town frequently, riding the tram, going to Disneyland, museums, etc. I know I couldn’t keep up with your schedule … of course you want to veg out when you can.
    Don’t beat yourself up. We all mother differently. If our kids feel safe and loved then we are doing our job.

  4. I’m very much an introvert, always have been, but my knowledge of this intensified only after having a child. Being an introvert is often seen as a bad thing, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. Embrace you!

    I did see this book recommended already, but multiple recs of the same book means its a must read… The book is Quiet by Susan Cain. I think every introvert should give it a read!

  5. Wow, all those things just clicked. I knew I was an outgoing introvert- I recognized the longing for me time after social engagements (even though I enjoy them). I had no idea how being an introvert related to my feelings of sadness/resentment towards the demands of my children. I was feeling so incredibly guilty about it. I’ll be following to see what gets recommended.

  6. This is so great! Not a mom (yet) but I’ve struggled my whole life with my personality, always feeling crazy for wanting alone time, and I would try to spend every minute with friends and then wonder why I was so exhausted. I, too, am very socially adapted, not shy, am great presenting in front of people – so it didn’t make sense. Have you taken the MBTI test? I slowly discovered about a year ago that I am an introvert (INFJ) and everything clicked. I’m naturally an overstimulated person so being around other people for long periods of time is draining, I need to be alone and do nothing to recharge. Extroverts are drained by being alone and get recharged by other people. Not wrong or right, just different ways people are wired! Self-care has become so crucial for me, and I look forward to nights my husband works late because I get to be alone (I mean I love the guy but sometimes a girl needs wine and cheesy tv marathons). I have a bunch of books in my amazon wishlist, I’ve heard “Quiet” is excellent. There’s really great pinterest boards out there with quotes for introverts and INFJ! It’s so eye-opening to understand and accept that part of yourself, it gets so much easier when you stop struggling against it!

  7. I’m an introvert! And I’m married to a profound extrovert. The other day I FINALLY got Anderson down and John waved me over to talk. And even though that time was spent him asking how my day was and me talking the whole time, as soon as I heard that Anderson was awake I was immediately resentful of John for “stealing my alone time” obviously that’s on me to communicate ahead of time,
    Like, “I’ll talk to you after nap time.” Or something, I too am still learning how to honor my need while nurturing both my relationship with my husband and my little baby boy.

  8. It’s amazing when someone else can get your inner thoughts out in words. I have always been an introvert and I covet my alone time like a prized jewel. I had thought I was weird because nap time is everything to me. I will schedule things AROUND it so that I can have that time to recharge for myself. I read this [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kirsten-brunner/5-things-to-avoid-as-an-introverted-parent_b_7447780.html?1433861090=&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063] article a couple weeks ago and it hit home for me. The number 1 things on the list is to not beat yourself up for enjoying time away from your kid. I almost cried when I read it because I was constantly going through an inner battle about whether I should be enjoying nap/bed time so much. Thank you for always being so honest. Sometimes motherhood gets painted as this beautiful masterpiece and I would always find myself comparing my journey to the beautiful stories and pictures I saw from other mom’s. It’s amazing to find other mom’s going through similar emotions that aren’t always rainbows and butterflies. Thank you!!! xoxox

  9. I recommend this blog: http://inisaacseyes.blogspot.com/2011/02/wheres-sun.html Christa is an awesome friend and like minded introvert. Her son, Isaac has Autism and though she doesn’t blog super frequently, she always has something that speaks to my heart as a mom. Introverted doesn’t mean you don’t like people, it just means you get your energy from down and alone time. Extroverts get their energy from people time.

  10. I, too, am an introvert (single) mom… who also teaches kindergarten (lol). Few believe me that I am an introvert, but those closest to me totally understand. I just finished reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain. Great perspectives on why we need introverts and how to see all the strengths in it, especially in a So. Cal culture that rewards extroversion in every sphere of life.

  11. You know, that’s me to a T too – I don’t if I’ll really add any insight for you especially since my kids are a little older and don’t have any special needs BUT I have found that intentionally keeping our scheduled less busy as a family helps. I don’t sign them up for a lot of stuff. I DREAD watching practices and shuttling them to these extra things so I just limit how much of it I’m willing to do (they are in activities but I keep it to like one thing per kid/season). I keep our weekends pretty low key and we might have ONE family commitment with friends or an event that’s about all I want to take on. It’s harder for my husband because he is more shy than I am but he’s definitely an extrovert in the sense that his charge comes from social gatherings.

  12. Oh my goodness. This post was an answer to prayer! I don’t have any suggestions because I am just now discovering this about myself, too. And for me, it’s even harder to accept this about myself because I homeschool my kids. I’ve literally devoted my LIFE to them until they graduate. I could go on-and-on about the arguments my husband and I have had about the fact that my 7 year old still has naptime/quiet time (and other things), but the best that I could explain to my hubby was that I needed that time to myself. It sounds so selfish, but after reading your post and the original article, I feel like there’s hope! I am anxious to see what resources people recommend because I’m in the exact same boat. Hugs to you!! We’ll get through this together.

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