The Introverted Mother

Go to Dictionary.com and look up the definition of “introvert.” You probably won’t be surprised.

in·tro·vert

[n., adj. in-truh-vurt; v. in-truh-vurt]

noun

1. a shy person.
2. Psychology . a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings
3. Zoology . a part that is or can be introverted.

But I have a confession to make that might surprise some of you if you’ve ever met me.

I am an introvert.

It’s true and I can prove it. It’s because Christy (@QuirkyFusion) told me so.

Actually, the reality is that she discovered that I’m one of them. Just like her.

This happened when I went to Toyota’s headquarters earlier this year for an event called TWIN camp. We were flown out to California, stayed in a beautiful hotel on Hermosa Beach, went out to dinner, met with Toyota’s team, and test drove the cars.

I’ll admit, I felt a little off. Sometimes I get that way. I had a good time at dinner. I was getting to know the other women and when it came time to test drive, I got in the cars and drove. I watched other women group together, pick our cars to ride in, but I was off doing my own thing. When I was finished, I came in and grabbed a quick lunch and decided to walk around the automotive museum where the event was hosted.

And I ran into Christy. I think we both made mention about needing a little quiet time away from the crowd. So we quietly wandered the museum together but separately. I don’t remember the exact conversation but the circumstance led us to talk about being an introvert.

But I’m not an introvert, I protested. I like to socialize with people and I never shut my mouth. I’m not really shy.

And she simply told me that makes me an outgoing introvert. Well, I was curious but confused. So when I got home, I decided to google this whole introverted idea. While this graphic below is pretty small, it describes me to a tee. (You can click on the image to see the full size image on its original site – available for download!)

It’s really all about energy. I love people. But they suck the life out of me. When I attend something like BlogHer? I’m down for the count for about a week after. When I go to the mall? I need time at home to just veg. While I love being social, I look so forward to the time after being social to unwind.

And then I came across this:

Seven things extroverts should know about their introverted friends:

 1) We don’t need alone time because we don’t like you. We need alone time because we need alone time. Don’t take it personally.

2) We aren’t judging anyone when we sit quietly. We’re just sitting quietly, probably enjoying watching extroverts in action.

3) If we say we’re having fun, we’re having fun, even though it might not look that way to you.

4) If we leave early, it’s not because we’re party poopers. We’re just pooped. Socializing takes a lot out of us.

5) If you want to hear what we have to say, give us time to say it. We don’t fight to be heard over other people. We just clam up.

6) We’re not lonely, we’re choosy. And we’re loyal to friends who don’t try to make us over into extroverts.

7) Anything but the telephone.

And all of the sudden, I was like YES, YES, YES! Especially number 7.

But this whole introvert thing really got me thinking about my life as a whole. And I started thinking about how it affects me as a mother.

My little guy is my one and only. And being a mother of one has not been an easy road for me. It has nothing to do with my son. By most standards, he’s a pretty good and easy kid. It’s me. I’ve struggled with why it’s so hard. Why some women just natural embrace the role of mother like they’ve been waiting for it all their lives. Why some women thrive in the chaos that a house full of multiple children brings.

My mother did it. She loved having four kids (and seven pets). The house was loud and busy at all times. But it’s different for me.

I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that I’m extremely noise sensitive. I don’t often play the radio in the car. I don’t even watch TV much. When I’m at home working, it’s silent in the house. And I like it that way.  I like solitude. I’m not a loner: I just need my alone time.

Now, I couple these revelations about myself with what it’s like to be the mother of a small child. First of all, there’s the noise aspect. Then there’s the constant need for attention. And then there is lack of sleep. And I realized that motherhood literally drains me of my energy.

It’s hard to admit that some days my son sucks the life out of me. And let’s face it, EVERY mother feels that way at some point. But I would often look at women with a 2 year old and wonder how in the world they could be thinking about having another one.

All this time, I thought it was me. And guess what? It IS me. But it’s a me that I understand a lot better. It’s a me that needs to recharge my energy every so often with a little solitude. It’s a me that sometimes lives in a hamster ball.

There you have it. My psychological revelation of the week. I am an Introverted Mother and I’m okay with that.

  • http://twitter.com/MandiMcClure Mandi McClure

    Whoa! This is totally me. Especially #7. The one thing I never leave home without but actually DREAD hearing it ring.

    • FadraN

      Oh, me too. Seems like a common blogger thing. We ALL hate the phone. Maybe we’re all introverted!

      • Christy @QuirkyFusion

        I believe that a very high percentage of bloggers are introverts. We’re people who have chosen to spend a large amount of time doing solitary work with a computer. =}

  • Carabee

    Outgoing introverts unite!

    This is me to a T. My husband absolutely doesn’t understand why after I put our daughter to bed that I need some alone time to decompress from the day. It’s overwhelming. It’s one of the hardest parts about being a Sahm or Wahm. It feels like you’re NEVER alone. I actually miss my commute a little because that was MY time. Next year my daughter will start school full time and I am SO ready.

    • FadraN

      So you’re one too, huh? Sean used to check on me every night when I was putting Evan to bed. I finally explained it was like my meditation time. Once he fell asleep, I sat in the rocking chair listening to lullabies ALL BY MYSELF and decompressing.

      I spent the whole day alone today and didn’t mind one bit.

  • Melissa_FillingOurBucket

    I have no idea if this is me or not. Remember that Myers-Briggs thing? I am always an INFJ or INFP or whatever the heck the last letter is. And I always think, “I’m not an introvert! I USED to be, but I’m not anymore!!” Because I love to socialize. I mean, at BlogHer I was at Sparklecorn until the very last song was played!! But…

    I also spent a lot of time alone at BlogHer. I love, love, love all my blogger friends from RI, but I couldn’t wait to get away and have some time to walk the expo hall ALONE. And by the end of the weekend, i couldn’t wait to just get home and have Monday to myself. Like you, I left the tv off, the music off, and I just reveled in the silence for a while.

    So maybe I AM an outgoing introvert. I love alone time. And if I don’t get it at least once every few weeks, I get very, very, very cranky.

    • FadraN

      I usually test an ENFJ or something but I USED to test as an introvert. So I thought I was all better now!

      But the truth is, you can still be an introvert and enjoy your time with people. The way you’ve described yourself, you’re one of us :)

  • http://angelaamman.com/ Angela Amman

    My DH is a definite introvert. I think I vascillate between both, actually. Some periods in my life I have felt more like an introvert, others I feel more extroverted. But kids definitely made me appreciate alone time, partly because I rarely get any.

    • FadraN

      I think that’s got to be true of most mothers. We need alone time and we need GROWN UP time. But I need that no matter who I’m around!

  • Suzy

    Finally, I meet (on Twitter) someone like me who doesn’t play the radio in the car and is extremely noise sensitive. I have super human hearing too. And I love being alone. Including going to dinner and movies alone. I didn’t want children because I knew they’d suck the life out of me. I knew that a long time ago.

    • FadraN

      I was an older mom and it was never because I had that big biological clock ticking (I wrote about that actually). When my parents went through a divorce, I couldn’t listen to music for like a year. It literally made me nauseous.

      I’m glad a mom but it’s makes a lot more sense to me now why I’m one and done.

  • Suzy

    Finally, I meet (on Twitter) someone like me who doesn’t play the radio in the car and is extremely noise sensitive. I have super human hearing too. And I love being alone. Including going to dinner and movies alone. I didn’t want children because I knew they’d suck the life out of me. I knew that a long time ago.

  • Christy @QuirkyFusion

    I suppose it’s not surprising that I’m sound sensitive, too. I heart you so very much. And I can’t wait to be “trapped in a car” with you in a few weeks. Let’s find some other introverts to join us. =}

    • FadraN

      I’m game! Thank you for helping me understand myself better.

  • http://twitter.com/lovelymundane Sharon Brown

    Have you read Quiet by Susan Cain? It’s a very insightful read in introverts.

    • FadraN

      No, but I’m off to the library tomorrow so your timing is perfect.

  • alexandra

    Incredible post.

    Also, add this: we’re not sad b/c we look sad. We’re not sad at all. We’re just watching.

    Great post, Fadra.

    • FadraN

      You have no idea how much my early career suffered because I wasn’t “perky” enough. And people always think I’m grumpy when I’m not. I’m not!!

  • alexandra

    Incredible post.

    Also, add this: we’re not sad b/c we look sad. We’re not sad at all. We’re just watching.

    Great post, Fadra.

  • http://twitter.com/smlhughes Stephanie Hughes

    Wow, this is so true! I’d never thought of it quite on those terms. #3 all the way. I constantly get told I don’t look like I’m having fun and I promise I am!

    And I think a lot of bloggers probably are introverted, because for me, I like getting what I want to say out there and can interact when I have the energy to interact. Great post!

    • FadraN

      I know, right? Suddenly, it all makes sense. I never thought I was introverted because I do so well in social situations (although most of the time, I feel like I’m faking it)

  • catchatcaren

    yep! I am definitely an outgoing introvert….I can be “on” but when I am DONE I’m DONE!

    • FadraN

      Yep. You just described me to a tee. I often come home from a party and my face hurts from smiling. Just doesn’t feel quite right.

  • http://twitter.com/FranglaiseMummy Franglaise Mummy

    I will take all this on-board as I think I’m an extrovert… I say I think as I really like peace and quiet too, I’m one of 5 children but can’t face having more than 2 of my own. Hmmmmm, I need to think about this in more detail. Thanks for being thought-provoking.

    • FadraN

      Think about it. It took me some time to really figure this out. In social situations, I can play with the best of them. But man, I feel drained. Maybe you’re one of us ;)

  • http://twitter.com/ErinORiordan Erin O’Riordan

    This is exactly why I’m childless by choice – all that constant demand for attention would suck the life out of me.

    • FadraN

      It’s hard for someone like you, like me. I wouldn’t trade it and it is so much easier than when he was an infant. But it is hard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/connie.kittyblog Connie KittyBlog

    O.. M.. Goodness.. I knew everything but #7! I HATE talking on the phone, I don’t even own a cell phone. I never could really explain it other then phonephobia. Now I can say it is just a symptom of my introvertedness.. :)

    • FadraN

      It is. I am the most talkative person I know. But it has to be in person or online. Weird. I hate the phone. Always have.

  • Melissa

    This explains why I can never get you on the phone! LOL.

    • FadraN

      :P

  • Melissa

    This explains why I can never get you on the phone! LOL.

  • http://twitter.com/lorrieloveable lorrie brooks

    thanks for sharing things about introverts im mostly that although i do love talking on the phone

    • FadraN

      I used to love the phone long before the days of the internet. I think I prefer more digital interactions because I can control it a bit better and walk away if I need to!

  • http://www.kimperative.com/ Kim

    What you spoke of here is one of the biggest reasons I chose not to have a kid at all. I’m not a super introverted introvert, but I do get easily exhausted around other people and need that bounce-back time. My mother was also an introvert, and she had three kids. I think she might have been a very different mother if she had stopped at two or even just one. I’m the oldest so I’m safe :) I don’t know everything about myself–far from it–but I’ve always known that I didn’t want to be that tired, disinterested, always-recuperating mom.

    The rest of the descriptors fit me, too. I don’t mind the phone too much if the call’s nice and short, but I’d much rather gchat. I never mind hours of silence and rarely turn the radio on in a car. I don’t understand how people manage to have conversations while Call Me Maybe is playing! I just can’t tune it out.

    • FadraN

      I love kids. I love being around them. And then I love to leave them and have quiet and peaceful adult time. It’s why I was on the fence for so many years with having kids. I finally decided that it was something I just didn’t want to miss out on. But it’s not as easy for me as other mothers because of ME. Makes me feel better to understand that now.

      My biggest pet peeve? The radio on at work. All day long. I don’t hear music. I hear noise!

  • SRO

    Thank you for posting this. I knew about my introvertedness before I had my son, but I didn’t think he would affect me the same as other people do. Other moms I know don’t seem to have this issue. Today I had a mini breakdown because I wasn’t in the mood to interact with anyone — not even my 8-month-old, and (of all days) today he’s been more needy than usual and hasn’t napped well. So, I did a Google search for “the introverted mother”. I am thrilled to find out I’m not the only one! Now I can work out a plan that will help me be a better mother to my son and wife to my husband. Thank you!

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  • LisaC

    This was comforting to read. I’m a “highly sensitive person” as well as an introvert. I was also an au pair in Germany for a year (I’m 24 now) and realized that if I had to be the primary care giver to kids for years and years, that I would be seriously unhappy and want to run away. While I was there the babies were 0-2. I realized as a mother the constant attention giving and noise wouldn’t stop for a decade. It’s conflicting because I do feel like having a family would be nice, but I know it would be very hard for me to handle because I’m so easily overstimulated and really need a lot of alone time. I think if I do have children it will have to be one, like you, but I’m also excepting that I might be happiest childfree. But then I feel bitter when I think about men and how the main nurturing work doesn’t fall on them. (Or the growing a baby part, which also bothers me on some level.) Being a dad seems more doable.

    • LisaC

      *accepting