I am a friend who loves to make plans with you and then loves it even more if you have to cancel those plans. Growing up as an only child, I never once asked for a baby brother or sister; in fact, I lived in fear of the prospect. I married my high-school sweetheart for many reasons, but it certainly didn’t hurt that it allowed me to bypass the exhausting process of “putting myself out there.”
The writer (and kindred spirit) Charles Bukowski hit the nail on the head: “I don’t hate people. I just feel better when they aren’t around.”
If any of this sounds familiar, welcome to the Introverts Club. We hold no in-person meetings.
In theory, being the mom of three young kids should be the introvert’s version of hell. They have no concept of boundaries (when was the last time I peed alone, I often wonder), they never go out unless you take them, and they draw strangers to you like a magnet at parks, grocery stores, and mommy-and-me classes with expectations of small talk.
So imagine my surprise that being surrounded by kids has been the best thing that’s ever happened to introverted old me. To meet their daily needs and love them in the way they hunger to be loved (basically, just being present), I have to put my introversion aside. To help them learn to navigate unfamiliar social situations, I have to model the attitude that every stranger is a potential friend. Their increasingly packed daily schedules mean I can’t retreat into my go-to solitary mode, and in most cases, I actually enjoy these outings and interactions.
Leaving my comfort zone as my kids explore the world reminds me that life is so much more than the four walls of my home and the familiar confines of my mind. Introversion isn’t a bad quality by any means, but it can become a barrier to meaningful experiences.
That’s not to say that I don’t still love my alone time. The hours between my kids’ bedtime and my own are sacred, and my husband understands that I need a quiet break for myself in the evening before I can shift over into Spouse mode.
But I’ve learned it doesn’t take much solitude to soothe my inner introvert — not nearly as much as it did before I had kids. (Moms are nothing if not time-efficient!) And before long, I find I’m looking forward to hearing my kids’ crazy, loud chatter and having them climb all over me again.
So be fruitful and multiply fellow introverts! You’ll make up for all that lost, alone time when your kids become teenagers.