Confessions of an Introvert
I am an introvert through and through. Although I love authentic relationships and conversations, people, no matter how much I love them, drain my energy. Do you know who else is a person (albeit little)? My three-year-old daughter, Arden.
No one ever talked to me about what it would feel like to be an introverted parent—I don’t think there are any statistics or coping skills to help us introverts navigate the waters of new parenthood. Instead, we find ourselves getting depleted way more quickly than we did before we became parents. Then, we feel guilty about the feeling because now a child is involved.
At the beginning, I felt quite baffled and frustrated with my empty tank. I mean, it was only Wednesday, for goodness sake! I had a whole lot of week left to listen to my daughter’s incessant questions and conversations. By Friday, without fail, I would be a grumpy mess, snapping at everyone and isolating myself in the bathroom way longer than intended once my husband got home.
This weekly pattern went on for a year and a half (I’m only on year three, so I’m still a rookie). On Mother’s Day one year, my husband asked what I wanted for a gift. Without hesitation, I asked for time alone. Just one day and night in a hotel where I could read by myself, eat a warm meal by myself, and go to the bathroom by myself. So, to recap, I wanted to be by myself.
“But can we visit you?” my well-intentioned, sincere husband asked.
“I’ll be back the next day,” I struggled to say in a calm voice (there were other things I wanted to say, but you guys would’ve been proud of the restraint I showed in that moment).
This was a huge moment for me. As a two on the enneagram, I was (and still am) used to giving and giving until I had nothing left for myself and others. Throw a kid into the mix, and I was just a sliver of the person I used to be. No one was getting the best parts of me — not Arden, not my husband, and definitely not myself.
The catchphrase, “self care,” is one most of us throw around when we take a one-off leisurely bath or afternoon to ourselves. But I’m starting to learn true self care is all about the long haul—it’s a mix of consistency, constant reinforcement of boundaries, and pushing aside any guilty feelings you may have for doing something for yourself.
Now, I know a weekly or even monthly hotel stay is out of the question for many of us. But let’s talk about what us introverted parents can realistically do to replenish our emotional and mental stores. We could:
- Mark some time on our calendars where we leave the house and do something alone.
- We can guard this time with the same level of commitment as we do doctor’s appointments.
- Set expectations for those around us about our need for time alone.
- Carve out 30 minutes to one hour every day to do something we love or help us express our creativity.
- Be intentional with making this recharge time a priority.
I’m not sure what you need to recharge, and I am, by far, no expert on self care. Some days, my personal sabbatical looks like me staying upstairs alone for a couple hours while my husband and daughter are downstairs.
When they finally come back upstairs, I feel like a whole new mommy—I smile more and I can listen to them talk without it feeling like I want to ask them to play an unending game of quiet mouse (did I mention my husband is an extrovert and my daughter seems to be exhibiting extroverted behavior?).
I can’t believe I used to feel guilty about taking this time alone before. I’m better for it, and in return, they’re better for it.
Are you an introvert? What do you like to do when you recharge? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.