“Mom!” says the 9-year-old. “Band’s in room 9. I don’t even know where room 9 IS! Do you?”
“Mom!” says the 7-year-old. “I got two stars today! Remember stars? I told you about them after the first day of school. I got TWO today!”
“Mom!” says the 4-year-old. “I see Vivian! Can I go show her my new dress?”
My ears take all of this in within the first 30 seconds of greeting the kids after school. Our walk home is punctuated with 12 million pressing questions and excited declarations (interspersed with complaints and protests).
By the time we walk through our door, I feel like I’ve been with them for an hour instead of five minutes.
“Put your backpacks away, wash your hands, and get your homework out!” I remind them as they take off their shoes. “I’ll make a snack.”
It’s the end of the week, and I’ve done this five days in a row. I can sense that my agitation threshold is just about met.
Where once I might have pressed on—powered through snack time at the table, complete with the smell of sweaty, never-still boys and a spilled cup of milk at the hands of our little lady—today I do something different.
Trying Something New
“Guys,” I say. “I need a few minutes of quiet. Can you work on unloading your backpacks while I go to my room for a few minutes? I’ll be out soon.”
I take a deep breath, hoping it’ll work. The boys agree, no problem, but I can tell our 4-year-old would rather follow on my heels.
I bend down to her eye level and reiterate myself:
“Honey, I can feel myself turning into Cranky Mom. I’ll feel better if I have just a few minutes alone. Do you think you could get the cups out and set a drink of water on the table for you and your brothers? I’ll be out when you’re done.”
She looks at me long and hard (well, for at LEAST one whole second), and I can see her deciding whether to take the bait.
“Okay, Mama. I’ll get the cups.”
Phew. I sigh and retreat to my room, desperate for those five precious, quiet minutes before I launch myself back into the fray.
Parenting as an Introvert
Parenting as an introvert is like having an out-of-body experience. No matter what stage of parenting we’re in, so much of it is counter to what comes naturally to us. For example—
1. We need our solo time. It’s impossible for us to be our best selves without it.
“For introverts, this sacred time is just as important as sleep!” Emma Scheib
2. We resist noise, interruptions, and disorder—all of which kids specialize in.
Sometimes we meet our kids’ playful yelling with yelling of our own (and not the playful kind), because we just can’t handle the noise. Many of us are at our wit’s end with the messes; the clutter of toys and crafts and school paperwork is just too much. And where we could happily get lost in a book, or even our own thoughts, for hours at a time, kids supply constant interruptions. Motherhood is intense for introverts.
3. We don’t like having to think on our feet and respond before we’ve processed.
When was the last time you tried to reason with a willful toddler (or teen!)? Parenting often requires quick thinking, where we’d prefer time to process.
4. We wish traditional phones had never existed, and kids mean a surprising amount of phone calls.
Play dates, doctor’s appointments, school-related conversations, etc.
5. We can struggle to build a supportive village at a time when we need it most.
Raising kids feels exponentially easier when you have friends and family to rely on, from emotional support to someone to call in a pinch. And although we introverts are loyal friends once we’re in a friendship, getting there isn’t always easy for us.
6. Our children need us to be their champions, their advocates.
As kids grow, their needs expand beyond the four walls of home. They often want to join sports teams and dance troupes and go on band tours that require parent chaperones. (Heaven help us.) Sometimes they need an adult to stand up for them, to make sure they get that IEP or are placed in the right classes or on the right teams.
Challenges aside, there are things that we excel at. Some aspects of our introverted personalities make us uniquely strong parents. The key is identifying those strengths and playing to them—and letting go of the guilt over the things we are not.
“I have seen firsthand how difficult it is for introverts to take stock of their own talents, and how powerful it is when finally they do.” Susan Cain
A HELPFUL RESOURCE
If this struggle is real for you, I’d love for you to check out my ecourse, Talked Out, Touched Out: Learn to Thrive as an Introverted Mom.
Our next session will open fall 2018, but until then, feel free to grab a PDF of 12 tips for introverted parents—from introverted parents. Enter your info below to have it sent straight to your inbox!
Here’s to calm, grounded, HAPPY introverted moms!