For those readers who know me in real life, what I’m about to say may surprise you. I am an introvert. I know, it’s shocking and I must be kidding, right? I’m used to that reaction. People often assume I’m extroverted because I don’t seem “shy” and because I’m not all that quiet. But what truly makes a person extro/introverted is where they draw their energy. For me, I need to be alone to recharge. I don’t think I’m particularly anti-social, but too much social activity exhausts me, and large crowds of people make me incredibly anxious.
Thanks to years of performing, I can fake it really, really well, but having to be “on” for too long can lead to total shutdown. Only, there is no chance to shut down with kids, is there? Being introverted is a challenge to my parenting, and being a parent is a challenge to my introversion. Sometimes, it feels like every part of my life is suffering from these challenges.
My friendships suffer. This seems to be especially true for my non-parent friends. I am better at making the effort when I convince myself the girls would be missing out on seeing their friends. And it isn’t that I don’t love and miss my friends. I just feel like I have a finite amount of energy to expend, and by the end of a day, there usually isn’t much left for adult interaction. You add into that the effort of getting childcare, or even making contact with people… and here comes the shutdown again.
My kids suffer. Or at least I worry they do… I hope they don’t really. Sometimes, I feel like I am holding my kids back. They want to go out, but I want to stay home. This one is a no-brainer usually, because I don’t truly want my kids to be homebodies, so I almost always make myself go. I love that they enjoy being out and about in the world. I want them to have experiences, and see their friends, and do all of these fun things. But I have to admit that I’m looking forward to a day when I don’t have to be so involved in all of their activities and outings.
My marriage suffers. This is not to say that my marriage is in trouble; even great relationships have weaknesses. I know that some of ours are a direct result of my introversion. Too often, after a long day of having little hands pulling at me, and little bodies climbing all over me, I feel like I want to put a bubble around myself with a sign that says “No Touching Please”. It’s not at all fair to Mr Imperfect, but it’s who I am and how I feel, and thus very hard to fight.
I suffer. As a SAHM, I’m pretty much never truly alone. As an introvert, I need alone time like water, or air, or sleep. If I go too long without that chance to recharge, I enter a vicious circle of guilt and helplessness. The more time I spend out of the house in social situations, the more tired I am physically and mentally… So I can’t gather the energy to do my usual work around the house, and then I start feeling guilty for not doing the things I need to do, and annoyed that those things aren’t done (but won’t let anyone do them for me, either), and that makes it even more difficult to motivate myself out of the house (not that I can get much done when the girls are awake and around anyway). So I sit here wishing someone would take my children away for a day or two so I can get my house in order AND relax alone (which Mr I does on occasion, bless that man), but then I feel rotten for wishing them gone…
Every endeavor has challenges, and parenting is no exception. For me, being an introvert is an obstacle I’m constantly battling to be the parent I want to be. What about you? Is there something, whether external or internal, that is a constant nemesis to your parenting ideals?