This is a topic I may hit on a few different times. There is a book about parenting the introverted child, appropriately named, Quiet by Susan Cain. What I find more fascinating and in need of exploration is the quiet parent who has children, regardless of whether that child is an introvert or extrovert. What about the parent?
I love my children so much it hurts. I look at them and my heart sings. I hug them and I can feel their energy and it makes me happy. I would, literally, die for them.
But they are loud.
They are messy.
They are demanding.
They need a lot of care. It doesn’t matter if their introverted, highly sensitive mother needs a break, needs quiet. They are ON and they need ME.
Parenting has been an ongoing struggle for me. I have three children and my oldest is twelve. One would think that I would have mastered this parenting thing, or at least learned to cope with it. But I struggle daily with the noise, the busy-ness, the demands, the fighting, and on and on and on. It doesn’t end. Ever. And I don’t want it to end end. I want it to quiet down.
Vacation? What’s that?
Getting everything done that needs done? That’s possible?
Attending endless playdates, sporting events, birthday parties, school functions? OMG I wish I was a different person (another theme I’ll tackle at a later date).
I finally have all of my children in the same school, full day. As my husband says, “You have EIGHT hours a day. What are you DOING?” Of course this is said with a dose of judgment and slice of ‘you should be doing more’, especially when he comes home and the house is no longer neat. It was neat at 9:00 a.m. after everyone left the house. But by the time he returns in the evening, kids have wreaked havoc on this poor house, and on me.
So what do I do during those eight hours? Many things that I find difficult to do: go to the store for groceries, another store for toiletries and socks (Target, of course), the post office, the bank…basically I go wherever I need to go to keep the house working. But these little trips? They take A LOT out of me and I need time to recover before the kids come home.
Not to mention I do all of the things that need done around a house. Yes, even a lame to-do list can overwhelm me. When is there time to just be? In today’s fast-paced world, you can never do enough or do it fast enough. That’s tough on an introvert. It disrupts our wiring. I find it takes more and more effort to relax.
So for a small part of an afternoon, I try to sit in the quiet and do nothing, to store up reserves for when the kids return and I can be the kind of mother I want to be. I try to avoid too much stimulation like seeing friends or going to too many stores. I try to allow time to watch one show so I can tune out. I need to refill my glass, so to speak.
As I type I can foresee someone getting snippy and telling me to be grateful for my healthy, beautiful children. Well, then you’re missing the point. I AM grateful for them but the amount of noise and need that comes with them is difficult, especially for an easily-over -stimulated introvert.
Take today, for instance. They came into the house at 3:30. It’s now 6:00 and they haven’t stopped talking, singing, fighting, or humming. That’s almost three hours of uninterrupted noise and this introvert is left stunned and out of sorts. I find it difficult to answer questions, plan their weekend, get started on dinner. I find myself needing another minute of quiet.
So I must ask: where is the support group for the introverted parent? Where is the novel that tells us how to cope? I need to know that I’m not alone; that someone understands a love that is so deep, it’s limitless, but who also understands that the sheer volume of noise and the endless to-do list is so overwhelming it can be difficult to function.
How do you handle parenting? I appreciate any advice!
*BTW, I do recommend Quiet. It has excellent insight on introverts in an extroverted world.