As I head to yet another birthday party, my daughter is in the backseat beaming with delight. You can see the physical excitement exude from her body as she heads to socialize with all her friends. She can’t wait for the sights and sounds of people talking and interacting.
I, on the other hand, am having a mild panic attack thinking about those same scenarios.
I am not shy by any means. I actually consider myself quite confident. Social situations don’t scare me; they just leave me completely and utterly drained. I didn’t realize how many of these interactions I would have to have until I became a mom. Birthday parties, recitals, basketball games, all places filled with people I don’t know, and filled with small talk I didn’t want to have. It’s all so…social. Not only is there anxiety about being around a lot of people, but also around not wanting to seem unfriendly or snobbish (which I have been referred to).
This is not to say I don’t like people; I just find forced small talk hard.
Unless I have something meaningful to say, I would rather stay quiet. Sometimes it can be hard to navigate being an introverted mom in a society that tells us to join all the groups, go to all the playdates and to constantly be doing something with our kids. And even more that, you must enjoy all these things. Although I love to see my children thrive in social settings, I understand that after so much socialization, I have to have time to decompress. I need this in order to be the best version of myself for my kids.
Mamas are constantly on the go, constantly making decisions, and constantly engaged. But for introverts, the over-stimulation can become too much, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and irritated. How can you find the “quiet” in a world that encourages you to be loud?
Here are some things I’ve learned:
- I must plan for quiet time. It doesn’t naturally happen in my house. I live with a toddler that needs attention, a people-loving 11-year-old and a husband who likes to talk. I have learned that if I don’t take quiet time to recharge, I’m not that pleasant of a mama to be around. Whether it’s waking up earlier to enjoy a cup of coffee alone or meditating before a busy work day, I purposefully find moments where it’s just for me.
- I embrace who I am. I am an introvert. I enjoy being alone rather than around a lot of people. This does not make me unfriendly or snobbish. It’s who I am and I am ok with that.
- I am up front about my introverted needs. My husband has come to understand that sometimes I just don’t want to talk. I’m not mad or frustrated. I’m just being quiet. This took some time in the beginning of our relationship, but now we have come to a place where quiet happens naturally. He works on his computer while I am two feet away either reading or playing in makeup. Neither of us saying a word to each other.
- I had to set personal space boundaries with kids. My two-year-old and 11-year-old are notorious for following me around the house…literally. Even to the bathroom (I can’t be the only one…right?). And while I love the fact that they love to be around me, I had to explain that momma needed her personal space too. I began setting times with them for talk or play especially after I had just arrived home. This helps create some routines and also teaches them self-control and patience.
- I learned it’s ok to do nothing. If I have free time, that’s exactly what it is. Free. I might take a nap; I might read a book. I might scan Facebook for an hour.
Finally, I’ve come to realize that my introverted nature has given me many positive tools to utilize in parenting. Introverts tend to be good listeners. This has helped keep solid communication with my 16-year-old son. Teenagers aren’t the most verbal beings and sometimes prefer if we just listen to what they have to say. He tends to tell me things before my husband because he knows I’m going to listen, reflect, and then give my opinion. Because I work better alone and behind the scenes, it’s easy for me to get things done whether it’s packing for vacation or preparing meals for the week. This has created a more efficient household in the midst of the chaos and busyness of the week.