Hi, I'm an Introvert...And a Mom.
Would all the introverts in the room please stand up? ….. Now anyone sitting who thought, “no way am I going to stand up in front of all these people…” I’m talking to you.
Most of us are pretty familiar with the terms introvert and extrovert and while there are definite cases of introverted-extroverts and vise-versa, most of us can be squarely planted in one camp or the other. Maybe you have taken a fancy test to determine where you are or maybe you have read enough about each personality type to know where you land. Either way, in the past few years there has been a plethora of information about how each of the two personalities work, interact, thrive, struggle, and think.
When I was younger I took one of those fancy tests that my dad had access to as a therapist…I promise he wasn’t practicing on his kids….at least I don’t think he was….Dad? Moving on. I wasn’t surprised when it came back that I was introverted, but I was surprised how much of an introvert I am. The test really gave me insight into how I worked. It validated things that I saw in myself and coping mechanisms I had, through trial and error, put into place. It also helped me to see what I needed and why I needed it. There were so many ah-ha moments and it became an important part of understanding and accepting who I was.
Fast forward 10+ years and I found myself about to become a mom.
Like most mamas out there pregnancy was a delicate balance of believing I was completely prepared to rock motherhood and collapsing in a puddle of doubt and fear. You mama’s know…and you husbands out there know too because I know you’ve talked your own lady down from her own ledge (multiple times) during those crazy and wild months of pregnancy.
I thought through, as us introverts do, scenarios and how my strengths and weaknesses would play out. Being introverted was placed firmly in my strengths column. I had come to love that part of me. I remember the thought running through my mind, “Being introverted will make it easier to be at home with a baby by myself all day,” and that settled it. I moved on to other more critical issues like needing to be in control and fun things like that….another post for another day!
When my husband went back to work and my mom went home after Stevie, our daughter, was born my self-assured, introverted-self fell flat on my butt. I was home alone all day with a tiny baby and I was shocked at how horribly I was handling it. This was supposed to be the easy part for me…so why was it so hard?
My daughter is 1 now and this season has been the most interesting, hard, stretching, exhausting season I can remember. You find things out about yourself when you are sleep-deprived, un-showered, and walking around in a daze with a crying baby…and I thought I knew myself pretty well. This introverted part of me that I thought I understood now felt unfamiliar.
I was home alone all day, a situation in which I supposedly thrived, except…there was a tiny, very needy baby that demanded my full attention. This was NOT a refreshing breath of alone time. This was a hurricane of chaos. I needed, wanted, yearned for alone time. These desires were met with a wave of guilt for wanting to be away from my girl. I found myself in a sea of guilt, exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and post-partum hormones.
I finally broke down and even with the guilt weighing heavy on me asked my husband if I could get some time out of the house. I walked aimlessly around the mall for an hour in an unfamiliar place of enjoying and craving interactions with other people. Who was I? Was I even an introvert anymore? Are all introverted mama’s secretly turned into extroverts? Why didn’t anyone warn me?
After I caught my breath and realized that motherhood doesn’t turn everyone into extroverts I began to get to know myself better. I was an introverted mama… what would that look like for me?
For me, as an introvert, talking to a therapist has been amazing. After a few months with her I am a firm believer that everyone can benefit from having a professional to talk to. I can tell a difference and so can those around me. We introverts can really benefit from finding some way to take our internal dialogue outside and letting it breathe. If talking to a professional seems a bit extreme, then just find someone to talk to. A friend, mentor, colleague, stranger in the grocery store…. I mean it’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing! Talk.
If you have no idea where to start, ask yourself these three questions. I am a huge fan of journaling…so try answering these questions in a journal.
1. What am I feeling?
Hold nothing back. Don’t be ashamed of anything that may come to mind….Scared, alone, resentful, jealous, tired, happy, content…etc.
2. What lies am I believing?
That I’m not enough, that other moms are perfect, that I’m a bad mom, that I can’t do it, that this was a mistake. Write them down and recognize that they are lies. Tell your partner what lies are creeping in. Listen to them speak truth into you. Do something cathartic to release them from your mind. Cross them out, tear up the paper they are written on, burn the paper they are written on.
3. What do I need?
Alone time, weekend away, babysitter, date night, girls night, house cleaner…dream big and talk to your partner about these. Some that might seem like dreams may be a reality you need to incorporate into your life.
Answer these questions, weekly, daily, if needed. At one point I set an alarm on my phone that went off every hour for a quick little self-check. I found such freedom in naming what I was feeling and voicing my feelings to others.
I am not pretending to have all the answers, because honestly even if I had my own introverted self-figured out, it wouldn’t help YOU. The biggest thing I have learned is to step back. Slow down. Breathe. And look inward. Give yourself permission to ask for what you need and tell the guilt and shame to hit the road.
I truly believe that we are the mama’s our babies need already, we just might have to dig down and find her. Invite her out. Tell her she’s doing great. Give her some space to roam and some fresh air to breathe. Ask for help. Talk to your people.
Yes, you may be an introvert, but don’t box yourself in by that title. I give you permission to explore what that looks like in motherhood, give yourself permission as well. Give yourself permission to be exactly where you are.
Being a mama is a beautiful thing, but accepting yourself as you are is even more beautiful.
Are you an introverted mama? Extroverted? How do you feel this has impacted your relationship with your child(ren)? Other mothers? Please share in the comments below.