Thursday, 5 May 2011

Mothering as an introvert

I've had these thoughts in the back of my mind for weeks now, and today - well, today just feels like the perfect day to let it all out.

Today, when I had to (horrors!) unexpectedly interact with new people.

Today, when my older boy talked non-stop from the time he woke up until the time his eyes finally, blessedly, drifted shut.

Today, when my younger boy had a sudden need to be in physical contact with me at all possible moments.

Today, when my husband worked until the kids' bedtime, leaving me to spend the entire day cooking, cleaning, running errands, being social, and answering the preschooler's endless questions.

Today. Just one of those days. One of those perfect days for reflecting on motherhood as an introvert.

Some days I just don't know how to do it. I want to lash out at everyone, what about ME? Can I just have one hour with no one talking to me, touching me, or needing something from me? Where I can do what I want instead of what needs to be done - where I can write instead of clean, or knit instead of cook? Where I'm not being constantly dragged out of my thoughts and back into the needs of everyone else?

During one such desperate escape last month, I left the kids with their dad and fairly ran out the door with no particular destination in mind. I ended up at a strip mall with thoughts of heading to Starbucks to get in some quiet writing time. As I passed a hair salon, I did a double-take: "walk-ins welcome". I needed my hair cut in a bad way (the perils of moving to a new city and being too introverted to bother finding a new hairdresser). Before I knew what I was doing, I found myself at the front counter asking if they had an opening. They did.

I settled into the chair and the hairdresser began spritzing and fussing with my long thick hair. "Looks like you had an inverted cut last time? Do you want that left in?" I declined, too embarrassed to admit that my last hair cut had been a self-done hack job over the side of the bathtub. She got to work on my requested style, and I was immediately reminded of exactly why it had taken me so long to find a new hairdresser - the dreaded Small Talk.

Question, answer, awkward pause. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Stop! I wanted to shout. I left my kids at home to get away from the endless questions!

(At least she did a fabulous job on my hair.)

Such is the life of an introvert. It can be hard to manage in a culture that seems designed for the extroverts among us. It isn't generally considered polite to avoid small talk with strangers or acquaintances - and yet, for the introvert, such interactions can be exhausting, sapping our last reserves of outward-focused energy. Crowds and malls can be overstimulating. We're expected to be social, to go out and "loosen up, have some fun!", when quite honestly "fun" for us might be staying home with a good book. We have to endure the infuriating teasing attempts to draw us out of our "shell", which apparently means "get you to talk as much as the rest of us are talking". For those of us who don't wear our emotions on our face, we receive endless "cheer up and smile!" comments from complete strangers.

(Am I really supposed to walk around with a big silly grin on my face all the time? Really?? I was happy until some random person told me to cheer up and smile. Now I'm just annoyed and ticked off.)

Introversion feels like a constant struggle between reaching out to create community and drawing in to protect/replenish my energy reserves. Rather than a large group of acquaintances, I desire a smaller number of deeper, more intimate cherished friendships - a process in which I am doubly disadvantaged by my inherent shyness. Because of this, I am careful in choosing which relationships to invest in, looking for people I can relate to, have something in common with, and enjoy being around.

As an introvert, I've had to learn how to enforce boundaries for my own mental health - boundaries with strangers, acquaintances, friends, family, and even myself. I've had to learn to say no (and mean it), to be cautious with the amount of things I take on, and to jealously guard my quiet time.

It wasn't until I became a mother, however, that I really needed to develop and depend on these skills. Motherhood leaves little room for drawing inward or finding time alone to recharge. The constant interaction, sacrifice, and meeting of needs can be exhausting even for extroverts; the additional challenges for introverts can feel insurmountable at times. I found these parenting-related strategies keep the near-breaking point days to a minimum for me:

  • Insist on daily quiet time. After the older boy gave up naps, we continued with a daily quiet time instead. As I was pregnant at the time, I desperately needed the downtime.

    At the beginning, quiet time consisted of the two of us climbing into my bed. He was allowed to bring two cars and a stack of books, and he was free to play with those cars, read, or sleep during the quiet time, while I either read or slept. He was not allowed to get out of bed until quiet time was over.

    Now that he's older, his quiet time is spent in his room instead. He may do as he likes (play, read, sleep) as long as he stays in his room. Some days I put on a CD for him and he is allowed to come out when the CD is over; other days I give him an alarm clock and either set it to go off or tell him he may come out "when the first number is a 2".

  • Fill their cup. "Fake it 'til you make it." Sometimes I find myself trapped in the cycle of being overwhelmed, pulling away from the kids, and having them become even more clingy and demanding as a result. The harder I pull away, the harder they push for my attention. Although it feels counter-intuitive, the best way to break this cycle is to spend time focused on them. By meeting their needs first, they are better able to then allow me the time I need for myself.

  • Carve out regular "me time". Mama-guilt makes this one a challenge, but I'm learning to let go of the idea that "good moms don't" - good moms don't need time away from their children; good moms don't go out alone for no particular reason; good moms don't leave their husbands to parent alone because, after all, they've had a long week too.

    Sometimes this "me time" is as simple as closing the door to the bedroom and asking to not be disturbed for the next hour. Sometimes it's a walk to my favourite teahouse, or a drive to Starbucks with my laptop, or a trip to the store all by myself.

    My biggest "me time" fail? Joining a weekly knitting group. Great idea in theory, until I realized I was coming home more exhausted than when I'd left. It finally occurred to me that the whole purpose of my "me time" was to be alone and recharge, not to put myself in one more energy-draining social situation!

  • Get outside. It's magical. Homebody that I am, I can't deny the energizing refreshment of a walk through the forest trails. The open space and fresh air are calming, and it's always a relief to leave behind the steady temptation of access to the online world. With all the distractions of nature, the kids become less demanding, allowing me to regroup enough to get through the rest of the evening.

Ahh...nearly two blissfully quiet hours of typing, and I'm now feeling myself again. Time to sleep in order to be sure I still have that regained energy tomorrow morning - because if there's any temptation an introvert regularly faces, it's staying up too late, reluctant to give up the extra alone time!

Are you an introvert? How do you balance the demands of motherhood with time alone to recharge?


  1. Do I ever know what you are talking about. I'm quite the paradoxical introvert too, but I can hide it well by forcing myself. Left to my own devices, I would rather just spend time at home, with people I know and cherish, read a book and knit or write.
    The worst part about parenting for me is overcoming my shyness, my fear of strangers, to cater to my extremely outgoing daughter, who somedays just wants to go out and meet people.

  2. Oh, yeah, that describes me so well. It is the reason why I have learned to be grateful for middle of the night feedings. While everyone else is asleep, I can recharge, even if I am awake.

  3. I'm one of those contradictory gregarious introverts. I'm so seemingly outgoing in public, that folks are shocked when I say I'm really an introvert. But I guess there's a big distinction between being introverted and being shy. I can really relate to your post... I hate small talk. :-P

  4. I can relate. I have a world of poetry, prayer, books, and daydreaming uh I mean meditation all of my own I need to visit regularly, most of the time while walking along a close-by river, or sitting on one of the benches. I take turns with my husband for alone time. His idea of alone time, though, is going to some public place to socialize, lol. We do this a few times a week. My kids are way demanding, too, and I love to homeschool them and have them around, but I need to keep boundaries, too. Being around people constantly as an introvert really can be threatening to our mental health, no exaggeration.I do feel bad, though, like I shouldn't have to create boundaries so often with my kids becacuse "good moms" don't do that. Thank-you for this encouraging post.

  5. Mamapoekie, that was (is!) such a challenge for me too. My oldest boy craves that interaction with other children, while between my shyness and introversion, I'm happy just staying home all day long. Pushing through that to meet his needs is definitely one of those parental sacrifices for me.

    Dulce, I'm so impressed with your attitude. What a great way to look at nighttime feedings!

    Dawn, yes, introversion does tend to be confused with shyness, even though they are two very different things. It's encouraging to hear that you can relate even as a "gregarious introvert".

    Sunrise, it really is a matter of mental health. That seems to be something non-introverts don't understand, and we can definitely come off as rude or selfish in our need to be alone to recharge. I know that I am a far kinder mother and wife, though, when I insist on those very necessary boundaries!

  6. I can definitely relate to staying up too late just to get some time to myself! If you call laying in bed sandwiched between two kiddos "time to myself" :p Hubby tries to give me some time to run a quick errand by myself from time to time. He occasionally watches the boys so I can spend a few hours out of the house alone. Last time my nook and I spent quality time at a local coffeehouse with a chocolate iced decaf ;) Have you read the book Introvert Advantage? If not, I highly recommend it!

  7. oh can I relate!!!! I'm a bit like Dawn in that I can appear outgoing in public... but really, I'm an introvert through and through... I crave my time little guy is at a stage where he is talking NON-Stop and I've been feeling guilty because he's an only child, who else does he have to talk to and play with?? But after a while I always find myself saying "Luke, Momma needs to have a few minutes of quiet, hon." Its DRAINING!! I've been known to escape to the bathroom in order to get a few minutes to myself! LOL!!

  8. Though I'm not a mom, I am an introvert ! And you describe it just perfectly ! My job as an office manager requires me to act like an extrovert all day long . . . upbeat, constantly smiling, & constantly talking . . . and I come home at night feeling I've had the life sucked out of me !!! I've joked to my husband that I should get an Oscar for my daily performances !! Thank goodness he, too, is an introvert, and understands this need for alone time, etc. to recharge. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only one !!!

  9. I can identify totally to what you say. My children are grown and flown the nest and if I'm honest I have to confess that I was glad when it happened! I love them dearly but love my alone time now so much. I treasure their visits but wouldn't want them to live here! Your tips on dealing with being an introvert mother are spot on - I found my biggest problem was guilt. I now recognise that if I hadn't scheduled some alone time when they were small then I would have gone crazy.

  10. Carving out time for yourself is so important... and when you're introverted, wow, that even takes it up another notch. I call myself a "social introvert" haha. Meaning, I love a party (especially if I can host) and I do fine meeting new people. BUT I recharge by being alone! Not even with a close friend or my hubs. Alone. Send me out with a book or my computer, let me sit in a cafe, let me shop, let me even go to a movie alone or have a meal... and I'm very, very happy. (And I don't want to chit chat when I get my hair cut either. Just let me sit in peace!:) It's a huge challenge to find time for that sort of thing with littles, but I'm working on it. Thankfully my husband pushes me to take time even more than I do. He sees that I go nuts without some alone time... and he doesn't like it when I go nuts. Ha! :)

  11. I can totally relate as well! Your tips are right on. I find it surprising that total strangers would tell someone to cheer up and smile - even if you're not smiling how is it any of their business?

  12. Thanks so much for putting a voice to this! My daughter is now a teenager, and is extremely outgoing and extroverted, and has been since birth! It sounds like you have a number of good strategies in place.

  13. I'm not a mother, but I am a missionary and teacher, and also a huge introvert. Some people can spend all day with students and then go out on the town- for me, it took months before I was willing to even talk to people after a day of classes and meetings.
    I love knitting, reading, writing, even watching television (if it's a good show), and I want time each day to do it...for me that means sometimes just saying no, I don't want to go out...and if people judge me for that, I don't let it be my problem.
    If I can take time for myself each day, it means I can be that much more patient and energized for classes, colleagues and students.

  14. as we have become more serious in our discussions about having a kid of ours, this has been a real concern and source of dread for me. i'm helping raise a 17 yo and the exhaustion from always. being. around. people. has got me near the end of rope.
    It was harder for my mom, who was even more introverted. i think it's one of the reasons she didn't work when we were school age - to be sane, she needed the 6 hours in the house to herself.
    some people seem to revel in being "in" the Mom Team (play dates and all that), but it's a part of motherhood I want no part of.

  15. Hi! I just happened upon your blog through a random rabbit hole that I've been falling down as I attempt to recharge with some alone time while I should be sleeping...and your blog post has me stunned because it describes what's going on for me this week and I just couldn't see it clearly. I actually wrote a blog post a few days ago about how I've been dealing with irritability and some of my coping strategies are the same as yours, but I didn't realize how much I haven't been getting enough alone time and that is a big part of what's been going on. As an introvert with a chatty 4-year-old it can be so hard for me to recharge. Thank you for this reminder!!!

  16. I just found your blog and love this post, especially the part about being at the hairdresser! Thanks for making me feel normal!

  17. Completely experiencing this now even as the mother of a non-verbal 9 week old. I find myself waking at 3-4 AM and glad that I'm able to think straight and recharge. Husband thinks I'm nuts. I look forward to reading more nuggets about introversion as time goes on..

  18. Wow...this fellow introvert mother totally relates to this! So glad I read this; it makes me feel like I'm not really a terrible mother for needing alone time. Although I married a total extrovert, I'm very very thankful that he understands my introvertedness (is that a word?) and encourages regular alone time. I would go crazy or be completely burnt out all.the.time. I've also learned a lot from his extroversion...small talk isn't so hard and I don't mind people *as much*, but's sooo good to be alone.

  19. Oh, my! I am a total and absolute flaming extrovert...but my eldest daughter (24) I am going to getting her reading your blog...she isn't married yet, and I think as the eldest of seven she at least has some good preparation for motherhood as a severe introvert. Support, support, support so important for attachment mamas swimming upstream. After reading some of your blog, I thought you would enjoy a post I wrote a while back I doubt if you can link to it from here, at least I don't know how!

    On another note, it was really good for me to meet introverted mamas because I was so worried that something was wrong with my child, especially with how I mothered her being under inspection all the time. God bless you all.

  20. Wow. What a great post! I can relate to everything you said. I also tried the knitting group and ended up not enjoying it - there was too much pressure to talk (oh the horror)! One of my favorite things is to sit by myself in a quiet coffee shop with a cozy book. Unfortunately, we moved away from all of the good coffee shops so I've been searching for something. Sometimes out of desperation I run into the bathroom, lock the door, and sit in the bath with a book. But then someone always comes along to bang on the door, "Mommy. Mommy? Moooommmmyyyyy. MOMMY!!!" Sound familiar?

  21. Another introvert here! I even find online stuff tiring sometimes, because its so interaction and relationship focused to read/comment/keep up with blogs, emails, and facebook...

    I find it an added stress that two of our kids are strong extroverts, so not only are they draining, they need extroverted interaction WITH ME to feel refreshed and energized!! And then my two year old needs me all the time, and the baby is glued to me all day.

    Fortunately my hubby is an introvert too, so at least we *get* that in each other. That makes all the difference. Bedtime is strictly enforced in our house. My oldest is eight and he needs very little sleep. He usually falls alseep around ten or ten thirty, but he's in his bed at eight p.m. The middle two are in bed around 7:30, and the baby whenever, but I strongly encourage her to fall asleep as soon as possible in the evening. My oldest is welcome to read, play lego, write, listen to music, etc, but he must be in his bed. And stay there til he falls asleep.

    After bedtime is when I re energize. This works for me so well.

    I also keep on hand things for my toddler to do that he likes, which require little interaction from me so I can have some peace. Playdoh, sticker books, etc, which are not for anytime, just special times. I rotate these out to keep him interested. It buys me peace if I'm doing anything where I'm standing: if I'm sitting at the computer or reading, he's not happy. But if I'm cooking or cleaning, he is. I like cooking though, so that can be my introverted time if he's occupied.


    Thanks for this post. Its nice not to feel so alone in this!

  22. CML, I haven't read that book but I've heard good things about it from a few different people. I'll have to check it out; thanks!

    Lyn, it's so reassuring to hear that from someone who has been there! Definitely takes the edge off the guilt.

    Michelle, I wish I was exaggerating about how often I've had that said to me by complete strangers walking down the street. Maybe that was more a reflection of life in a small town though - I can't say strangers in the city are quite so willing to stick their nose in other people's business like that!

    Kathy, it's certainly a balancing act, but so rewarding in the end. It makes a huge difference when I'm consistently sticking to my boundaries and ensuring I get enough time alone to recharge. Not always easy but important enough to make happen anyway!

    Practicing Mammal, it's always interesting to hear from the other side. It's great that you're so supportive and understanding of your introverted daughter.

    Swimming-duck, oh so familiar, yes. Some days I wander into the dark bedroom and just stand there - it takes them longer to find me if I leave the light off! ;)

    Melissa, great tips, especially bringing out special activities for the toddler that he can do alone while you rest. Bedtimes are strictly enforced here too, and I don't plan to change that anytime soon - you don't have to sleep, you just have to be in your room doing something quiet!

  23. A few weeks ago my little family was at a long open house graduation party for some family members, and a few hours into it my husband and I escaped to a private room to decompress. We're both introverted (though not really shy), and needed a few minutes of peace. We looked out the window to the yard below, and saw our daughter in the middle of a big group of people, joyful, giddy, and being energized from being around so many people. And that's when it hit me. "we're raising an extrovert!" I exclaimed to my husband. And immediately lots of years of having she and her friends in my house, filling it with noise and busyness filled my imagination! And as much as I anticipate those years and completely desire to help her needs of an extrovert be met, I know it will be a lifetime of challenge and sanctification through motherhood for me!

    I love all of your tips, and I too find those things helpful. I'm thinking through them and others as I am newly contemplating the truth that I am an introvert raising an extrovert!

  24. Thank you Thank You Thank You Thank You! Just found your blog and read this post first. You sucked me right in. This is more me than I can express. Great advice, and great to know it is not just me feeling this way.

  25. I think we are the same person! My #1 pet-peeve is when people tell me to smile, and sadly, it happens fairly often. Like a lot of others, I can only pretend to be outgoing for very short periods of time, but then I withdraw. I just want to be home most of the time, doing quiet activities. My daughter makes it so the house isn't quiet anymore, though! I do get my recharge time after everyone is asleep, but usually only on the weekends. Weekdays are just too busy for recharging these days.

  26. I never realized this, but I am an introvert in disguise!! I despise small talk, don't enjoy meeting new people & could spend my whole day alone and knitting or reading happily. I am now the momma of 3 little girls and so I put on a happy face & go out and try to meet new people with little ones and it is really hard!! I escape to my sewing room for at least a couple hours every night for some me time :)

  27. I loved this post. I could relate (I cut my own hair for the same reasons as you...I thought I was the only one!) I linked your post to my blog b/c I wanted to share it.

  28. Oh boy am I glad I found this blog! Thank you thank you thank you for articulating this issue. I have survived well as an introvert my whole life, until my husband decided to join the Army. Once we got to our first posting, the other wives were asking HIM if I was ok, because I hadn't shown up at every single social event, coffee/play date, or even introduced myself to any of our neighbours just yet. :oS I just wanted to figure out how the grocery store was laid out, and where the nearest Starbucks was! LOL. The biggest thing I can relate to, though, was when you wrote about constantly being drawn out of your own thoughts for the needs of others. That is how I feel to a T. I have so many ideas and desires but can never quite get to them by the end of the day. And hubby wonders why I'm always the last one to come to bed, even though I'm always tired = late at night is the quietest, and most creative, time of day for me.

  29. What a relief to find I'm not the only one cutting my own hair b/c I so dread the chit-chat at the stylist. Thank you for helping me feel less weird! :)

  30. I am so happy to have read this post.

    I am an introvert who has recently begun the 'empty nest' phase of life. I'm an artist and have a chance at this stage to finally do the thing I have wanted to to all my life and also to have alone time. I wonder, though, if i'm not becoming MORE introverted as a result.

    I can barely get through Sundays now with my husband at home. I can do the Saturday thing but two days in a row of NOT being alone makes me incredibly cranky. i am finding that I want to avoid family gatherings, i don't like being out at the mall or in traffic, i don't even want the phone to ring.

    I spent so many years waiting to exhale that now I'm jealously guarding my right to breathe! :)

    Anyway, thank you for writing this. It's tough to be an introverted mom trying to guide an extraverted daughter through our extraverted culture when all I want to do is say, "It's all too much for me.. good luck out there!" She needs more than that but I honestly don't have more than that to give her at this point.

  31. I just found your blog since I googled "introvert motherhood." I've been reading "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won't Stop Talking" and it's made me appreciate my personality type. Finding your blog is another welcome breath of affirming fresh air. I have a 20-month-old, I work as a professor, and I am a type 1 diabetic - three challenging, time-consuming things. I have felt like a failure at all three since my son came along. I have beat myself up for needing "recharge" time when he takes a nap instead of exercising to bring my blood sugar down, etc. I am now going to appreciate the challenge of my situation and give myself credit for what I get done. And I'll just have to pray to find a way to find the time to handle my diabetes.

  32. You have hooked me with this post. Especially the last line! So much TRUTH. Following you. :)

  33. I'm a fellow introvert & mama to 2 little ones & one on the way. I'm still trying to figure out how to recharge, lol. Your post was very helpful :)

  34. I love this, and I find it quite amusing that I discovered it today (I don't recall reading it when it was originally posted) given that I just wrote about being an introverted Momma myself yesterday. (I was actually looking for posts on potty learning--we're struggling--and just happened upon this post in my puttering.) Ah . . . and I totally get the hairstylist thing! We're moving soon, and I think I'm going to miss having my hair cut by an Italian-speaking man with limited English. Lovely hair with no chit-chat! Sigh.

  35. I somehow came across your blog in these last couple of days, I think it was a fingerpaint craft (why oh why did I join in the madness that is Pinterest?). But then I saw this entry.

    I thought I was the only introvert-mommy out there, thank you for posting this. It seems a lot of my peers like to go out dancing, or partying for their me-time. I respect that, we are all different. I just want to be alone sometimes without anyone needing anything from me, just to re-charge. I wish others could understand that! Thank you for your post!

  36. I also found you on Pinterest. I swear this is a window to my life. With a 20 month old and an extroverted 3 year old and a husband who works night and is home with me during the days, I cannot function without my quiet time. My husband laughs at me because he'll find me in a corner of the kitchen, hidden from prying eyes, eating a Klondike Bar.

  37. Thank you! I needed to read this, to know I'm not alone. I have a 9month old and before I had him, I worked from home. It's been really difficult adjusting to having someone that needs me around all the time.
    Sometimes when he's playing on his own I'll sit really really still because I'm scared if I move, I'll draw his attention to me :)
    Thanks for the tips.

  38. Wow this helped alot! Today has been a horrible, rotten no good, VERY bad day! Pardon the use of copywritten material. I have Post Traumatic Stress and ever since the events which led to it I have found myself an introvert. completely opposite of who I was before (the painfully annoying smiley, go out of my way to talk to ppl, fake it til you make it laughing type). Its difficult to deal w being in the house all the time and not wanting to be bothered w such things as talking more than twice an enjoyed and needed this!
    ~a soldiers wife in Texas

  39. Can I pose a question to all you introvert moms? It might sound really silly, and I mean no disrespect. I'm an introvert, and a pretty pronounced one at that. I have no children and never wanted them, and I suspect that my introversion is a major reason for that. It's like I always knew that were I to ever have children, my as-essential-as-breathing alone time would all but disappear, and I knew I simply coudlnt' live my life that way. Also, since I've never equated being alone with being lonely (at nearly 50, I'm still not sure I really know what the word "lonely" means LOL), I was never able to relate to comments from others who predicted that I would be "lonely" when I'm old if I didn't have children. So I guess my question is: Did all of you introverted mothers really want children as badly as most women seem to?

    1. Not a silly question at all, mrose! For myself, I did always want a child, but only one. (Actually, my plan from the time I was a child was to adopt a little girl and never get married! Clearly, I eventually changed my mind on that one. ;) It wasn't until I had my first child that I discovered I desired more than one; however, each additional child means less time alone and it most definitely has affected me and required that I find ways to adapt.

      Interestingly enough, I have actually found marriage to be more "difficult" in this regard than motherhood. Even though I am married to another huge introvert who definitely understands my need for time alone, our marriage also needs time together. Once I have the kids in bed and am ready to settle in for the evening, it is difficult to "give up" that time and spend it with my husband. Again, though, when I am feeling too drained, I take that as a sign that something needs to change in order to allow me to feel more balanced.

      That said, even though I wanted to be a mother and have found great joy and satisfaction in it, I don't think it is at all unusual for an introvert to not have that desire and to not later regret it or feel as though they have missed out on something. What an interesting aspect you have raised; thank you for your question!

    2. I don't think this is a silly question either! I have always, always wanted children and wanted to be a mother, ever since I was very young. But I also grew up in a large family as the oldest of six kids. That wasn't east as an introvert either, but I think I did learn some valuable "coping skills" that showed me it was possible to survive as an introvert in a busy household.

      I can definitely relate to the feeling of marriage being more difficult than motherhood. Although motherhood is exhausting, my marriage takes more conscious involvement to keep it healthy. Perhaps this is because my husband *seems* more self-sufficient than my daughter, so meeting his needs seems more like a choice than a necessity? Which leads me to resent his needs more than my daughter's, or at least make them feel somewhat more burdensome.

      Either way, decompression time is key!

    3. I'm relieved that you asked that question. I thought that maybe there was something wrong with me...

      I'm 40, married, no kids. I honestly can't imagine how introvert moms survive. The thought of having kids never crosses my mind except when someone asks me about it. There is a LOT of pressure to have children! When I imagine what life would be like with a few, I almost immediately feel that drained-zombie like feeling that I get if I've had to make small talk for an hour.

      You all are stronger than me...

    4. I assumed children would just happen someday after marriage. I always wanted to get married. I never dreamed about having children nor actively "wanted" them, though of course I do love my 2 (so far) children. We're practicing Catholics who just didn't learn NFP in time to avoid conceiving, lol. And I honestly had no clue how draining children could be. NO idea.

  40. Dear mrose,

    Excellent question... for me, no! But it so happenend that I got married because it was the 'right' thing to do and soon enough a baby came along. None of it was not planned, neither was getting married. Things spirraled fast and find myself resently but plugging away stealing moments of peace by neglecting some must-do's... (dishes are still in the sink from yesterday). Guilt galore, but it is what it is.

    1. Thanks, Anonymous! Just wanted to say I don't think you have anything to feel guilty about. Like I said above, if you're an introvert, you need alone time like people need breathing. If the dishes don't get washed for a day or two, so be it, but your sanity is far more important. :) Good luck with everything!

  41. I can SO relate to this! As an introverted mama with an extremely extroverted husband and daughter, I find balancing her needs for interaction and stimulation with my need for quiet and retreat to be a constant balancing act.

    The staying up late because I don't want to give up alone time is completely me as well, I have been a "night owl" my whole life. I never really labeled why that was such a draw for me until reading your post!

    The hairdresser thing is so hard for me too. I just want to have a peaceful time to get pampered and be quiet. By accident, I stumbled onto a great solution last time I got my hair cut - I brought my husband with me! Since he's a huge extrovert, he chatted with my stylist the entire time and I just sat and tuned out. Didn't have to talk to either of them but they were both enjoying themselves - it was wonderful!

  42. YES. So much yes. Thank you for posting this.

  43. I just found this blogpost...I desperately needed to know I wasn't alone in this space of mothering as an introvert being so overwhelming. Thank you for taking the time to post this, share so much, and give tips. Hope you are having a lovely day.

  44. I am crying as I am reading this. I feel in my heart that the best mommies are extroverts. I don't create the perfect birthday parties or attend the most wonderful playdates. I watch my extroverted sister do all these things and I feel so inadequate. It is so refreshing and healing to find out I am not alone.

  45. Thank you for such an insightful blogpost. I've struggled my entire life trying to understand the challenges of my own personality and my constant struggle with energy. Only after having a "high spirited" child and finding these challenges even more difficult, did I really begin to search out others with similar experiences. Discovering the concept of introversion and all it entails has been life changing for me. Now I better understand the fluctuations in my energy and the need for downtime. And after reading your blog and others addressing the same topic, can I finally begin to understand my own struggles living with an extroverted husband and child. The guilt and frustrations of being an introverted Mom can be overwhelming. Embracing your introverted self can be even harder. Thank you for sharing and providing some ideas for coping.

  46. I just had to let you know that I've had the same exact experienced at the hair salon. :)

  47. my kids so much but I think sometimes I need more than an hour long break...I need a 5 day sabatical!

  48. Hello there,

    I was absolutely shocked in a happy way to see that as I was reading this fantastic article, all I could think about was what *mrose* so courageously commented.

    Can I just say thank you?

    Just in the last year or so have I really learned what introversion was. I can see now how it all finally makes sense. I used to beat myself up all the time and try to fit the 'norm', but now that there is knowledge of 'others' like me, I have been trying to come to terms with it. It's hard to be introverted at times in an extroverted culture, especially i the church.

    Just knowing other introverts are out there and feeling the same way, particularly about the subject of children, is very comforting.

    My husband and I have been discussing it more and more. It's a very BIG decision and we are wanting to do what God wants. I have some issue that make me infertile, at least for now, and so this obvious subject came up. We're both okay with not having children, and possibly about having them. We always strive to be accepting of anything. We are both extremely introverted and have a high sensitivity to noise. I am an artist as well and feel that call on me to create a very intense one. It keeps me happy and sane and connected to God and serving Him, as well as helps with my tendencies toward depression.

    I am absolutely anxious about the idea of being around anyone, even sometimes my husband, for an entire day, especially if there is non-stop talking and noise. The thought of having children 24 hours a day, no time to create or to rest or focus, and no solitude to gather my mind and connection to God is so severely paralyzingly scary! I need that for my sanity, my energy and my soul. I feel very guilty and pressured ( I know the pressure comes from me, or the devil) about it and really am scared of going against what God would want for us, or standing before Him selfish in our decision.

    I have been a day care worker and baby sitter to all ages and although I firmly believe children are a wondrous gift, I have never, all my life, desired to have any of my own. When I got home from work I was so drained I slept until the next day, and felt resentful at times because I really just wanted to work on my art. I fear regretting the decision not to, or worse, regretting the decision to have them and then wind up resenting them. It's hard enough balancing life with family, friends and my husband as well as keeping my home and art going.

    I guess I just needed to vent a little. I have been praying a lot about this and talking to my husband and mom a lot about it too and it is obvious right now is not the time to decide, but I've got to give it to God. Which is scary sometime too, he may give me 4 extroverted children tomorrow just because He can!

    Is this common? Do any of you not only have introversion but strong creative abilities that you feel called to in service to the Lord? Are these fears unfounded? I marvel at mothers, if you are a mother and introverted, I send my love, hugs and prayers for you. You are quite amazing and blessed.

  49. Yesterday was the first time in my adult life that I ever identified myself as an "introvert." I've spent the last 15 years learning to act like an extrovert and manage in a world built for Them. I did it so well my (psychologist, crazy perceptive) husband (married 4.5 yrs, together 8.5) never realized I was introverted.

    I've been struggling with depression, stress, and exhaustion; going to therapy; trying various approaches. And it was getting better, but I knew we hadn't hit the core of the problem. I think this is finally it: I'm an introvert. I have needs that I haven't been aware of, or respecting. I don't know if I've just been tuning out my need for solo time, or if - while I need it - I just don't CRAVE it the same way many seem to. (I think it's like water - I don't tend to drink water without being reminded, I forget to, but I'm far better off when I do drink it.)

    We have a two year old daughter who is crazy extroverted, and very high touch. I work in a public service position, so I'm with people or being interrupted all day, and then I get home to a child who expresses her love by standing on my feet and TALKING CONSTANTLY. And when she goes to bed I am relieved. I felt like a bad mom for that for a long time, but I think now it's just being overwhelmed.

    Even my "breaks" aren't breaks. I go running... with a friend. I have Tuesday nights out ... at knitting group. My actual solo time is on my drive to or from work, in the shower, and Saturday mornings when I "sleep in." Oh, and the half an hour I wait every week after my allergy shot, which is in a room full of people but at least they leave me alone.

    I'm so glad to see that there are other people out there concerned about this. I did a quick search yesterday and found a lot about "parenting an introvert" but not much the other way around.

  50. I relate to EVERY post here. I'm 35 years old, have an 8 year old, 6 year old, and 2 year old. All boys. All talkative and needy. And I *just* realized I was an introvert last week after reading a piece of a blog somewhere....which is how I found this post while googling to basically discover MORE about myself. At 35. You think I would've known by now. Basically after I stopped working (where I was able to get a couple of hours a day alone to work/think/read/etc) two years ago and began staying home and homeschooling my kids, I was so confused. I was almost depressed. Anxiety filled. Angry. I couldn't explain it and couldn't figure out what I NEEDED! Now I see it. Of course. Even as a teenager, I'd leave my house, where no one was really talking to me or bothering me anyway, and go wash my car or go park somewhere and do my homework in my car. I just needed to be ALONE. Having three kids with you all day everyday and a husband who works long hours is VERY tiring. Now that I recognize my "issue" for what it is, I plan to do something about it! I'm so excited to finally have a vision. I love my kids dearly of course. But I also love and treasure my downtime, which is pretty much nonexistent now. My husband and I just discussed last week that I should hire a sitter for one afternoon each week and just go do what I need to do. It was so exhilirating to think of having 2-3 hours ALONE each week! I cannot explain it! And to those of you who don't already have kids, you are smart and blessed to recognize your needs before you have kids. I never realized I was so introverted and even after ONE kid it wasn't so bad, but with three's definitely difficult to manage. OF course, this is a season and as they age they will surely need less of me. Surely. ...right? :)

  51. I stumbled across this just today. I've identified myself as an introvert for some time now. I'm a solo parent of a child with ADHD. I work full time and I struggle being with him all weekend with no break. I actually get no breaks to myself 24/7 between work and taking care of my 6 yo unless I hire a sitter...something I try not to do for financial reasons. I have no family or free help either. I'm a wreck most of the time because I can't get any time to myself out of the house. I recently decided to get an au pair because I can't take doing it alone anymore. It's the first time I wish I wasn't an introvert. I wish I didn't need any time to myself. Ugh. It's so frustrating because I feel weak needing help. It's nice to read your post. It helps me know that I'm not crazy feeling like I desperately need a break sometimes. Thank you.

  52. A friend just pointed me here - another haircut-hating, staying-up-too-late mom checking in! Quiet time instead of naps never caught on at my house, unfortunately. I'm a big fan of structure and knowing WHEN my downtime is coming to me. Summer is really tricky in that respect.

  53. Wow... I'm going to be a mum in a few days and I am anticipating the onslaught of unexpected baby-loving visitors at my door. In a bid to find something helpful to read, written by a like-minded person, I typed into Google 'introvert new mum unexpected'. This topped the list, I read it, I love it, I'm printing it and keeping it. It's lovely to find I'm not the only one, because as you say, it seems to be a culture designed for extroverts. Now I feel I can be honest with my lovely extrovert friends and lay down some rules, rather than lie and cause unnecessary worry by telling them it's best they don't just knock on my door as I have a somewhat aggressive canine!!

  54. Googled "quality time with toddler introvert" because I couldn't think of how else to phrase it. I am an introverted mom of a chatty 2 and a half year old daughter. Some days I feel like I forget to talk to her very much. Of course we interact, especially while potty training and at meal times. She is an excellent self entertainer usually, so I am lucky in that. However there are some days where she just wants to be on me constantly and I need space. Thank you for writing this. Reminded me that we all just love our kids, the best we can.