They say there is an easy way to tell if you are an introvert or an extrovert. Just ask yourself this question: “How do I recharge?”
If your idea of renewing yourself is to meet friends for coffee or a night out, you’re probably an extrovert. If you need quiet, alone time to jumpstart your batteries, you’re probably an introvert.
I am an introvert. Totally and completely. Deprived of my alone time, I begin to fall apart.
And, here’s the thing, when you are a mommy the first thing you lose is alone time.
I had three children in five years. I hold no record for that, but I will say that going from having daily alone time to having none was pretty devastating for this introverted mommy. I felt like one of those lab rats who had been put into a cage with too many other rats to see how long it would take me to go crazy (not long, it turns out).
Babies and toddlers don’t cooperate when you announce that mommy needs to be alone. Alone? Mommies?
Instead, every single thing you do suddenly becomes a spectator sport. Going to the bathroom? No longer a solitary event. Cooking a meal? Too many cooks in the kitchen. Curling up on the couch with a good book? Don’t make me laugh. And, even sleep (which is meant to be a time to recharge) turns into a frustrating marathon of trying to get everyone down, in their own beds, and asleep at the same time (you’re lucky if you can get a few hours without at least one child waking up).
I remember looking at my husband one day and saying, “Tell me what I have to do to be put into a home and I will do it.” I meant it too. And, I wanted to be put in solitary confinement.
There was no talk about introverts and extroverts back then. If you found your bliss by being alone, people thought there was something wrong with you and tried to “fix” you. I can’t begin to tell you how many times well-meaning (extroverted) friends dragged me and all our kids to some crowded event. And, I hated every moment of it.
And then felt horribly guilty and inferior as a mother.
Therein lies the other hard part about being an introverted mother … the guilt.
That’s why I am outspoken now about being an introvert. I don’t want any young mommies out there to feel inferior because they need their alone time and they don’t run their kids around to every fair or circus that comes to town. I wasted so much time feeling “less than” extroverted moms.
I ignored the fact that there were wonderful things my kids got from having an introvert for a mom. We had just as many adventures, they just looked different. We made forts, we did crafts and we read the classics together. We had deep discussions about faith and empathy and the other important things in life. My kids knew that they had a mom they could count on to be there and to listen. And, it was in those quiet moments that I really got to know my kids on a deep level.
So, the one bit of advice I would give to all you introverted moms out there is this:
There is nothing wrong with you. In fact, God made you this way on purpose.
You have a different style of mothering and it is beautiful.
Never feel inferior.
More on introverted moms:
Know an introverted mom? Here’s how to love her well.
Trouble maintaining friendships? You’re not alone.