Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Case of the Introverted Mom

     I'm the kind of person that thinks things through.  Actually, that's probably a pretty big understatement.  When I'm given a task, a project, or a problem, my mind immediately goes into overdrive thinking about all the details that need to happen to complete it.  I'm an ISTJ according to the Myers Briggs test, and if I'm honest, it's a bit obnoxious.  I'm certain my sweet, laid-back husband should get a prize for handling all the crazy with so much grace.  It's so bad (although I admit, I usually see it as good...insert evil laugh here...) that at any given time, in my van, you can find grocery bags, ziplock bags, emergency bottled water, emergency snack, a DVD, a DVD player, hand sanitizer, band-aids, and many other things that I'm going to accidentally forget to tell you so I can save some face.   The point is - I think about things.  A lot.

     So how did I miss this? How did I not realize that once kids entered my life, my introverted self would never be the same?  Pre-kids, I had figured out that although I enjoy being social, I needed sufficient down time, where there were no other voices around me so I could "recharge."  I just never realized that my sweet babies would count as people that I needed a break from.  I also failed to realize the implications that they never... ever... leave.  They are there.  Always.  When I'm making breakfast, they're there.  In the car, they are singing along in the back.  When I go to the bathroom, when I'm taking a shower, when I'm trying to sleep...they are always there.  And they are not quiet, contented onlookers.  No, usually their presence is accompanied by demands to be held, changed, fed, or entertained.  Don't get me wrong, I'd choose to have them all over's not a matter of whether or not I love them, or whether or not I want  them.  I do!  Of course I do.

   I just failed to realize that this introverted girl would feel suffocated, drained, and exhausted after being with them.  It's emotional death to me to have to constantly be "on," and we moms know you are ALWAYS expected to be on.  Someone always needs something or is chattering away about something very important like Minecraft, Mickey Mouse, or minions.  (You like that alliteration, there?)  I failed to realize it, so I failed to make provision for it.     It has taken me seven years to finally get it.  Today, during an overwhelmed feeling that has too-often been my companion these seven years, a light bulb finally turned on.  I've always thought that maybe I had too many responsibilities or too many things I had committed too...and that can definitely present a problem.  BUT, I've failed to realize my main problem.  As my family has grown, and added more voices, I haven't met that with sufficient time to rest in the quiet.

     I need time to just be.  I need to just sit and think...or to create something with my hands while my mind processes life.  After the birth of both my second and third child, you could constantly hear me say, "I just can't think right now!"  And I really couldn't.  I found it intensely difficult to make simple decisions during my day.  Now I realize that those infant years were especially hard for me because that sweet little baby was with me 24 hours a day.  I believe that's the way it's supposed to be, but I failed to understand why it was so hard for me.  Truthfully, I thought there was something wrong with me because I was anxious to get through the baby years.  Now I realize that I was need of the fresh air that time alone gives.

    In our world, it can feel so difficult to create time for being alone, and doing absolutely nothing productive.  We often feel guilty asking our significant other to give us time by ourselves when they are usually also very busy people.  And truthfully, we usually marry extroverts ( they can make the super awkward and stressful small talk in social situations -  can I get an amen??)  who look at us like we have two heads when we try to explain this phenoma of needing time to think and just be.  It's tempting to take the path of least resistance and not even ask for this time...but I'm here to tell you that you MUST fight for it!  It initially seems selfish, but I assure you it's not selfish anymore than taking air into your lungs is selfish.  Sure, you could go too far with it, but as long as you only ask for the amount time required for you to rest and recharge, it is a legitimate need.  When introverts take this time to care for themselves, they become better parents, spouses, friends, co-workers...and the list goes on and on.

      Not an introvert?  Look at the people you're close to, because chances are good that they are introverts.  Although you don't understand this need we have, they'll love you forever if you help them to create down time in their life.

     So do it.  Today!  Even if it's only 15 minutes, take some time to breathe.  You, and everyone around you, will be glad you did.


  1. I totally understand! When I figured out that Eliana was draining me it changed so much. I am thankful for babysitters, preschool and naptime. Those help me so much! I also am making a priority now as well for solitude with the Lord. All of these are helping me stay afloat. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes, I'm thankful for help too...and I agree, time with the Lord is a non-negotiable.