When introverts have children …
I think the biggest challenge for me, as a parent, is the fact that I spent so much of my pre-kid life … all alone.
As a kid, I spent most afternoons alone in my bedroom, playing Barbies and listening to Salt-N-Pepa (coolest kid ever). I was very into computers and became obsessed with teaching myself HTML and building silly little websites (lucky for you guys, riiiiiiiight?).
Even as a teenager, I still spent plenty of time alone. Mom travelled a lot for work, so it was often just me and my sister. We both learned to embrace our aloneness, and today we agree that it’s something we NEED the way most people need oxygen.
For as long as I’ve lived with Darling Husband (11 years now), he has done shift-work — and often worked two jobs, although not anymore, luckily. I would go days without seeing him during waking hours, and kept myself busy with crafts, sewing, painting, writing, and lots of crap TV. I had a tiny dog who I carried around under my arm, and we were perfectly content in our peaceful little life — although, yeah, lonely sometimes.
For an introvert, having children is a huge shock to the system.
If I were to really analyze all of my Cranky Mom Moments, most of them would stem from the fact that I was overwhelmed by the noise, work, and frustration that can come from spending so much time — in close quarters — with other people. Mainly the noise?
I adore my kids — and my husband — but I’m also at home basically 24 hours a day. I need (NEED) to find tiny pockets of time in every day when I can be alone. And, if I can’t be alone alone, then it’s time that I can at least go off into my own little world.
- I always set my alarm 10-15 minutes earlier than I really need to get up, so I can lie in bed and check email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I have tried doing the whole “get up early and go downstairs for a cup of tea alone” thing, but my child have sonar-like hearing. If my feet hit the floor, they immediately rush it. So as long as I’m lying in bed, I have a few minutes to wake up slowly.
- We eat breakfast and lunch separately. I’m strict about us eating dinner together as a family, because it’s the only meal when Darling Husband is home, these days. But breakfast? Lunch? No, I must admit. The kids sit at their little table and I put on a show, and I sit at the big table and eat quietly while reading (sometimes a book, usually the internet). In the morning, it’s my little “break” before we begin our activities. At lunch, it’s a “break” before I launch into my afternoon of work.
- Doing the dishes has become a spa-like experience. I turn on Songza, crank it up, and look out the window at the view. If I’m home alone with the kids, they play around the corner in the living room. If Darling Husband is home, I shoo them all outside. He offers to do the dishes and I usually hiss at him that I “get” to do them. I, uh, even did this in a friend’s trailer while camping!
- I relish the post-bedtime hours. When the kids go to bed, Darling Husband often has already been in bed for an hour (thanks to his latest schedule). On nights that I don’t have to work, I savour a few hours of complete “me time.” I work on sewing projects, watch my own TV shows, read fun stuff on the internet (blogs, GOMI), read books, and ENJOY. THE. PEACE. AND. QUIET.
I know as the kids get older, I will start feeling lonely again and miss the days when they were constantly bleeting for my attention, so I try to embrace it as much as I can.
But I also really, really need these little bits of alone time. And I’m not going to feel badly about that.
Any other introvert mamas out there?