I can tell it’s the end of August because I’ve been eyeing the space under my bed, wondering if I could fit under there to hide from the kids. Just for a few minutes–that’s all I need. A few minutes of quiet.
Have you seen all the information going around about introverts lately? Just this week I’ve found all kinds of good posts about my people. (I’ve included links for them all at the bottom.) It has me thinking about the challenges of being an introvert and a parent, which is a challenging combination.
First of all, as a point of reference–introverts are those people who need a lot of time to themselves to refuel emotionally and mentally. (Extroverts, of course, gain more energy and life the more they are with other people.) The challenge for an introverted parent is that children don’t naturally give us a lot of space. We never get that chance to refuel.
Just last night at dinner I had one kid squashed up against me in the middle of the prayer and then 57 requests for something or other during the meal. It makes me jumpy and cranky. Multiply that times 70 days of summer so far, then add in all the wonderful-but-draining social events we’ve had, and you can probably hear my brain buzzing. Seriously, there’s a circuit somewhere in my skull that is kicking up an alarming sizzle. I fear for my mental health in the 12 days before school starts.
It gets even trickier when an introverted parent is raising an extroverted child. Our daughter is the extrovert. She loves to be with people, and she loves to be in constant contact with those people. So, it’s not enough to be in the same room together. She has to be talking with them and playing with them and sleeping right next to them. (As she gets older this is easing up some, mercifully. But the tendency is still there.)
A few weeks ago I blogged about how Audrey was at camp and Caleb and I were hanging out at home. I was enjoying the lack of chaos that comes with only one kid. It occurs to me now that Caleb is also an introvert, so we hang out in the same room and that’s good enough for us. I have a book, he has a fleet of tiny metal cars, and we each do our thing. I might look up after an hour and say, “You doin’ okay over there, kid?” And he looks up and grins and gives me a thumbs-up. We then go back to business as usual.
Honestly, I do fear that my introverted nature is short-changing my kids. But I also know that I’m working hard against my instincts to hide. I’m doing my best. (Most days. Sometimes I just hide so I can survive the day.) But more importantly, God placed these two kids in this family for a reason. He knows what they need, He knows what I need, and this must be working out some kind of good for each of us. It takes all kinds of mothers in the world, introverted and extroverted.
No parent can parent perfectly all the time. We all have quirks and shortcomings, just like our kids. But those characteristics are how God made us, because we’re made to work together. We’re part of a family, part of a body. No one part of a body can claim to be able to do it all.
As a mother, I know I can’t do it all. There’s no way I can meet every need my children have. But I serve a God who can, and while I’m hiding under my bed I will be praying that He’ll be making up for my shortcomings. Amen and amen.
“But our bodies have many parts and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part!” (1 Corinthians 12:18-19, NLT)
The links I promised you:
- Motherhood: The Introvert’s Challenge. This is a beautifully written article and I can identify with every word.
- Worst End of Summer Mom Ever: A Sequel. This is from Jen Hatmaker, a woman who regularly has me in tears of hysterical laughter. Read it, you’ll feel better about life. And JUST WHATEVER ABOUT IT.
- Mostly the “I” Whispers… From BooMama, all about being a introvert-in-disquise.
- 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert. Here’s a checklist in case you’re confused about yourself.