I am an introvert. However, I’m one of those sneaky ones that has the capabilities of being an extrovert when the situation calls for it—a gathering for work, hosting a party, meeting a new person where it’s very important that I make a personable impression— so not everyone is aware how much of an introvert I really am if they’ve mostly seen me in those situations. It’s not that I’m being fake in the instances above, it just that it’s taking every once of “people strength” I have to make it until that moment when I can be alone again and just be quiet and recharge from all that energy that it took to be personable for more than .3 seconds. When I was a kid, I would have friends over to play but my older sister would end up entertaining them because I was up in my room reading while my playmates wandered around downstairs. When my now sister-in-law Sarah met me in person for the first time after only interacting with me online for a year or so, she just kept saying she was surprised at how “quiet” I actually was in person. Even though I know that’s probably true it still surprises me to hear that from other people for some reason. And girls, any of you other naturally quiet or keep-to-yourself-in-public kind of personalities know that most of the time you will be typecast as a “bitch” by most people if you don’t immediately smile and offer every stranger you see a glass of homemade sweet tea, am I right?? Anyways, I digress, but this is my normal world as an introvert.
Then I had a baby! And guess what?
I’m still an introvert.
Want to know the cruelest thing you can do a person that tries their absolute hardest to not make eye contact or engage in conversations with strangers in public? Give them a baby. Send them out everywhere they go with a cute baby because who wants to talk to or about a cute baby?? Everyone. Literally everyone now wants to talk to you. I always prayed Lola would fall asleep when I took her out in her stroller partially because that makes shopping easier but mostly because I could put the cover over her stroller and no one could see how beautiful and cute she was and then I didn’t have to tell the lady behind me in line at Starbucks everything about her from her birth weight to her middle name.
And now that she’s an adorable toddler not only do I have the cutest baby on the planet, but I have one that loves to wave at everyone and walk right up to people allowing the conversations to start before I can even get over to where she is. People, who are not within talking distance of us, will frequently shout their assessments of how adorable she is, yell questions about her, or just bellow out how much she looks just like her Daddy (which she does). My beautiful baby is a riptide of social interactions and no life jacket can save me now…
All that to say, I don’t think there’s much I can do about the new “in public” part of my Motherhood. Babies are a magnet so if you don’t want to interact with strangers, you should probably just stay home. There are however, some observations I’ve made about my introvert Motherhood here at home:
1. I’m not the “fun” parent—before you say “Aww, no! Of course you’re just as fun as Todd, don’t even say that” it’s OK. I promise. I’ve given up feeling bad that I’m not as fun as Todd is because Todd IS very fun! He’s naturally over-the-top silly, carefree, and makes a game out of everything. He’s great! He’s being himself. I know that I have my silly/fun/carefree moments with Lola too, but I don’t have to keep them coming one after the other just to try and keep up with Dad. Let him do his thing and I’ll do “fun Mom” in my own way.
2. I make space for (some) silence—I know all the baby experts go on and on about how babies should hear a billion words a day to help their brains grow and you should narrate everything you do throughout the day to them and while I tried to do that, I just couldn’t keep up. It felt so unnatural to speak constantly, whether that’s to a tiny baby or a full grown adult, that I felt like I could never meet whatever goal they had set for me. Reading books aloud was good (grown-up books too, not just kid books) since that helped take the pressure off me a bit to think of interesting conversation topics. Who worries about running out of things to talk to their baby about? Me. And I want to talk to Lola and explain things to her, tell her what we are doing and teach her things as play, but also, sometimes we just go on a walk and say nothing—just listening to some pretty music or what birds are singing—and that’s ok with me. Or I’ll sit nearby and read while she plays with lots of smiles, kisses, and glances thrown in throughout—but it’s mostly rather quiet. Just both of us doing our own thing while having the pleasure of doing it together. Besides, maybe she’s an introvert as well and needs that quiet time for herself to recharge too.
3. I’m “Morning Mommy” for a bit each day—I know it’s not true for every extrovert, but I’ll just say that the biggest extroverts I’ve known over the years were all morning people. I’ve had some of them literally leaping into my room in the morning singing some loud and cheerful song like a dopy lunatic and I’ve wanted to punch them in the face. I need some time to wake up in the morning before I’m ready for songs and games but Lola is one of those babies that wakes up at 100% percent and is ready to go so doesn’t quite need that time for herself. I know some Moms will wake up before the kids get up to have that time to themselves, but lately Lola’s been a 6:15ish morning girl and I just can’t fathom getting up before her for any reason that trumps a few more minutes of sleep. Anyways, I’m a bit more subdued each morning until my coffee cup is getting low and at times I’ve felt bad about that (shouldn’t I be singing and opening her curtains in the morning with Disney songbirds to hold back the panels?) but you know what? It’s fine. I try not to be grumpy and I figure if I can at least be sleepy and slow, but sweet, then I think we’ll both be able to greet the day happily.
4. It’s ok to keep social interactions short—Sometimes I feel bad pulling her away from a stranger that’s talking to her or going the opposite direction from someone that I’m pretty sure will want to gush all over her, but it’s really not something I need to worry much about. There will always be more people for her to meet around the corner and we don’t have to so the Seinfeld stop-and-chat with every person we pass by. Usually when you are out with a toddler you are on a mission anyways so it’s ok to be more focused and throw smiles and toddler waves as you go past people in a flash so they’ll say, “I think that was a really cute baby, but they went by too fast to be sure…”
Anyways, these are a few of the things that I think about in connection to Motherhood and my introvert status. If you’ve had any of the same experiences, leave an anonymous comment below after you recharge from your last social interaction, or, just give a silent nod of solidarity from the comfort of your own personal space and I’ll feel that too…
INTROVERTS UNITE! (Quietly and separately of course)
P.S. If you neeeeed that shirt, you can get it here. Also, here’s a similar skirt, and I loove those boots (especially after I painted some gold stars on them).
P.P.S. All the above aside, if you do ever see me out and want to say hello, please do! I promise I’m nice (usually!) and not as cranky as I sound—ha!
Love this so much! As a fellow introvert mom to an 11-month old, I can totally relate.
Actually, just being A MOM is a huge energy drainer for any introverted person, because you have to constantly interact with your baby. My daughter goes to day care and I am loving it (I know I am supposed to be all sad and miss my baby and I DO buuuut….I kind of like the fact that I get time for myself. I am an artist, so I get it my alone time during the day, which gives me energy to be extroverted in the evening and on weekends. It’s all about the balance, I say!
Unrelated, but I love to follow your blog – you have the best nose for sniffing out great stuff (toys, clothes, etc) on the Internet LOL. I hate shopping, so your favorite product lists are so helpful to me- thank you! 🙂
I do morning mommy too. And I try to keep her on my lap, while making breakfast, so that we at least can make it until I’ve had something to eat before the chaos arrives.
I also ask my husband to take her out for a day without me quite regularly. I need alone time, the two of them don’t (well, p might need some, she likes to sleep alone, but she’s doesn’t like to sleep, but during the day this is usually not an issue)
I try to make play dates with people I know, so that she does get to play with other kids (she’s 19 months now and learning so much from playing together – mainly, how not to fight with other babies her age, but swap or share toys and taking turns and things like that) so I don’t have to talk to new parents.
But still, being a wheelchair using parent of a very active, outgoing kid, means other parents will get involved. Even if it’s just to ask whether they should help her up the slide (never, never help my kid up the slide. I try to learn her that if she can get up, she also can get down – for everything. And if she cannot get up, it’s probably too dangerous for her, so don’t get the idea in her head that she could be up there somehow.) or asking me “how I do it?”. I’m quite used to that now, but man would it be great if I could just sit quietly and read, or, more accurately, just watch the kid and make sure she doesn’t climb on scary high things and descend them face forward.
OOoh my god, this spoke to me on a deep level. My son is now three years old, and I also struggled SO MUCH to talk to him when he was a tiny baby. When I’m alone at home, it’s my quiet time. I don’t have the TV on or even music most of the time. I like and NEED silence. When he was born, I worked an office job and although I loved being able to go back to work after maternity leave, I found the constant interaction with people ALL DAY and then with my baby ALL AFTERNOON AND EVENING (and sometimes all night too, because babies) absolutely exhausting. Now that I work for and by myself at home (while he is at school most of the day), I find it so much easier to be a better mom because I get my silence recharge during the day. It’s completely changed how I parent and interact with him (and all the people you inevitably end up having to speak to when you’re out with an adorable and interactive child).
Oh man I relate to this so much! Especially point #2. As an introverted new mom of a two month old, I’m constantly worried that I’m not bubbly or entertaining enough for my baby. I remember kind of freaking out while I was pregnant when my husband said that he had read that you’re supposed to say something like 10,000 words a day to your baby and I was thinking, wow I feel like a lot of days I don’t say more than like 10 words for most of the day, hehe. So I find myself feeling guilty if I’m not talking to her ALL the time while she’s awake, but it’s mentally so exhausting! So thanks for the encouragement! I have to remember to not beat myself up for not being something that I’m definitely not: an extrovert.
omg! I love this post so much, Laura! I was literally LOL at parts of it and I can SO relate. It’s hard to be burdened with the world’s most adorable children! ha ha When my daughter was little she would hold up her arms to STRANGERS to be picked up. And sometimes they WOULD pick her up… awwwwwkward.
Mommin’ ain’t easy, but sounds like you are doing a great job. Love hearing about yours and Lola’s life. 🙂
Funny post but so much I relate to. You do motherhood your own way and keep yourself healthy. I’m at the stage of play dates that include coffee with parents still sometimes and being expected to join parent groups. Just wait for that! I currently don’t use Facebook just so I can avoid the neighbourhood group. Everyone is very nice (mostly) but I just need space to function happily. Sometimes I feel like people think I’m lazy or antisocial but when I do hang out it’s always a good time. “You can’t please everybody so you might as well please yourself”.
Such a thoughtful blog! My husband is the introvert in our relationship and your first point was something he also mentioned.
But you know what, my daughter who is two now adores her daddy just the same! And he does not talk to her all day (I however, am the weirdo in the supermarket who is talking to their baby non stop) but all the big words she knows, she learned from daddy :).
I think it is valuable you can always be yourself around your child! Btw, tip from my husband, if you want minimal interaction regarding your cute baby, put them in a baby carrier on your chest or back… baby loves it, and they are already gone before you saw them coming… ?
I can totally relate to this as an introvert mom! You actually articulated perfectly exactly how I feel but never put into words. I was feeling guilty that our days are mostly quiet, pretty much doing exactly what you explained. It feels unnatural for me to be over the top, gushing and using baby talk for every little thing her or I are doing. Everyone says we have a chill baby, and I feel like she’s just feeding off my chill attitude. Lol. My extrovert mom friends have wild babies, so maybe the two are related?
Loved this post..and all of your posts! Keep them coming! ?
It’s so weird to feel one way all your life and feel like you shouldn’t feel that way, then read something (like this blog post) and think you aren’t weird for feeling how you’ve always felt because other people feel that way too…but yet you still seem to feel like you are weird.
I’m introverted AND have social anxiety…
Having a baby 18 months ago kind of ramped the social anxiety part up just a bit. I try to go anywhere with someone else so if a stranger starts talking I can hide behind whoever I am with (usually my husband) and then people won’t talk to me. I also observe and see that someone might stop and talk and kind of just smile and walk as quickly as possible by them. I have never liked being an introvert or feeling anxious but I don’t really know how to even go about changing it. I’ve tried just embracing it and usually I can do that. I just hate seeming like a mean person to people who don’t know me.
I’m with you on feeling like I just cannot constantly narrate to my (9 month old) baby. After I feed her in the morning we head down to the kitchen where she plays in her pack n play and I, silently, make coffee and do whatever else I can squeeze in. No music. No news. Nothing. But when her dad’s in charge, there’s much more talking and typically music. Sometimes in the car with just me and her, I play no music and instead, listen to her babble. The silence lets me really hear her and I love that.
Now as far as #4 goes – right on sister! Just like how we don’t need to smile because we’re “too pretty not to smile little lady” – barf – we also don’t need to let everyone leech off our bundles of joy. I totally understand the urge to suck that baby cuteness into one’s orbit, but it’s our right to keep it short and sweet. For me it depends on my mood. Sometimes I welcome the friendly interruption (LET’S GUSH ABOUT THIS CUTE BABY!!) and other times I smile and say, “yeah, she’s awesome” and continue quickly on my way. A little while back on ABM Emma mentioned wanting to read The Four Agreements. If you haven’t read this, I highly urge you to! It has helped me tremendously with finding peace within and not caring if others find me bitchy when I know I’m so far from that.
Introvert and mama to 3 munchkins weighing in… I’ve learned from jobs (that have forced socialization) to be extroverted when called for but require down time to recoup. The difficult part of this parenting gig and introversion is that they turn 3 and never stop talking. It’s allll day, e’ry day. They also all wake up at 6:00 and run into your room, and the give n’ take with your spouse often wanes with more children as they require more of you… because you’re both just too damn tired to feel generous.
So, if you choose to have more lil ones, brainstorm on how to protect this for yourself, but also know that your threshold becomes rockstar status with each subsequent child and even with one, each day you get stronger and stronger and the labels you give yourself or the things you think you require fall away to a certain extent. It’s kind of a lovely thing. As a parent, I of course often feel constrained and exhausted but simultaneously so incredibly strong. I’m immune to so much of the business that would’ve riled me up or made me uncomfortable and that’s been the gift I wasn’t expecting…
And, some days, you just put on a movie or let them play the Xbox for an uncomfortable amount of time… and hide in your room for awhile ❤️…
Haha, yes, we haven’t got to the non-stop chatter age yet, and I guess that’s not every kid, but I guess we’ll see with Lola! I’m definitely excited for a time when she can get lost in her own world for a bit longer at a time but it’s good to remember to cherish every age since you can’t ever go back in time
Angi, you expressed my thoughts exactly. I’ never realized how introverted I am until 3 kids and a full time job started bring me to the brink every day. The kids never ever stop talking. They all talked seemingly from birth. Especially our extremely extroverted 4 year old. He loves life, loves everyone. When I pick him up from school he hugs every last person in the hall. Gives hugs to each friend and teacher and asks me profound questions about God, dinosaurs, farming, the earth, you name it, without pause the entire drive home. They are my dream come true but I do feel like my brain is going to explode. I literally go to bed early to think in the dark! Yet as you say my capacity for it all has grown to Superwoman status. So has my husband’s. We are this incredible rock solid team.
Yes, yes, yes.
My son is 3.5, and I can count on one hand the number of playdates we’ve had because it just drains every ounce of energy I have. He’s in pre-school five days a week, so I don’t feel too bad about it. 🙂 I also can’t keep up the constant chatter. My husband speaks enough for both of us, so I figure he’s making up for my lack of words.
I’ve never been called a bitch (to my knowledge), because, in addition to being an introvert, I have the misfortune of also being a people-pleaser, so I smile at every person I see so they don’t think I don’t like them. Sometimes I come home drained just from all the smiling I’ve done. That being said, I did have a co-worker and friend tell me once that they experienced me as “a shell of a person” because I wasn’t the life of the party in large groups. Ouch.
Anyway, I relate so much to your post and am always grateful to find the other introverts that exist. Have you read “Quiet” by Susan Cain? She had some really great insights, especially regarding how introverts experience church. I highly recommend it!
Ouch! That’s a rough thing to say to another person! They are probably not introverts I’m guessing…I haven’t heard of that book, I’ll look it up! Thanks!
I’m not a mom but hope to be sometime soon. I am a huge introvert and suffer from social anxiety disorder so it’s another aspect of parenting that I think about but never hear/read about. Thank you for sharing your perspective!! It’s good to know that it’s OK to be yourself while being a mom.
Yes, you’ll figure out how to be the best Mom and the best you that you can! It still takes a lot of energy to be a Mom (like a whole lot) but it can be a different kind of energy. I always feel tired at the end of a day now but not always “people drained” if that makes sense…
Thanks so much for this, SO me as well! My kids are now 13 (?), 11 and 9 and play dates still terrify me….And now I don’t have a cute toddler in the pram I am like forever crossing the road with my cute dog to avoid people. And buying things, having to interact whilst getting milk, just kils me! So with you on this (from over here!???)! Xx
When I first had my son, all I read was how you should talk to your baby all the time and narrate your entire day to them. I felt exactly like you did about it. But then I read from another momma blogger that there’s no reason to talk to your baby all day long. They don’t need to be overstimulated. They need to know how to be okay with silence sometimes. That was such a relief for me to hear.
I have a question: so I would say I’m an ambivert but definitely like people sometimes, but need my space others. Sometimes I see someone, say with a cute baby and I want to compliment them, or be friendly (as I’m frequently the person behind the cash register so to speak). Do introverts take offense to that?
Any introverts, please answer! Just trying to be friendly and not annoying 🙂 just know the people are trying to be genuinely nice and don’t mean to bother you or your family…sometimes clues you just want to be left alone are hard to read!!
Thanks in advance for your answers!! I’m going to a group gathering and want to hear another side of the opinion! 😉
Haha, just speaking for myself, I’m certainly not offended if a stranger says something kind to me, but if I’m out of energy you may just get a nice, but relatively shorter response and I’ll try to move away when I get the chance. So maybe just take the chance and be nice, but if you see them inching away don’t take it personally and let them take the out if they need it?
You just took the words out of my mouth. This is exactly how I feel.
great post!! im an ambivert so i can turn on my extrovertness when needed but ideally want to be at home with books and a cat. having a baby definitely mixes things up amd im pretty sure that like you ive got a little extrovert like her daddy.
have you read the book ‘quiet’ by susan cain? major game changer! she also had a podcast by the same name (its not still running but sure you could find tge episodes) that talks about being introvert/extrovert parent-child relationships in different combinations. super interesting!
this is amazing. thank you for sharing. motherhood seems hard and scary and perfection. thanks for being honest and making room for things that dont look like everyone else.
I can relate so much to this post, Laura! I can be pretty boisterous when I’m in my comfort zone, but I also have a fear of small-talk. Having a kid definitely puts you in precarious small-talk situations and whoa, can they be mentally taxing!
My son is 12 now and ever since he was young, he’s been super personable and out-going. Let’s just say that I have lived in the same house since 1999 and no one ever knew me but now when I’m walking around my neighborhood in Pittsburgh, people stop me and say, “Oh are you Riley’s mom?!” because he is super popular, especially with dog-owners. Sigh.
I know I’ve said this before, but I really respect your honesty and transparency in parenting. I don’t have kids but I tried reading this and reflecting on how my SIL feels. My brother is boisterous and naturally extrovert. She is definitely more reserved and introvert. I hope that reading through this helps me think about all the pressures on her and hopefully I am more careful to give her a little space or not make it seem all about my nephew. <3
Thank you for this post! I feel so often that I am the only one that seems to be an Introvert/Mama. A I read this post it seemed as if I had written it! I greatly appreciate your transparency as well, you have a beautiful family and little Lola is blessed to have your love!
You are not alone, I promise!
I really appreciate reading #2 here. It’s easier now that my son Miles is almost 10 months old, but when he was first born and we were stuck inside together all winter, I really ran out of things for him to talk about and eventually just read out loud to him from magazines. I felt guilty that talking to him constantly wasn’t coming naturally or really feeling all that natural. It was exhausting!
I feel this so much, especially 1 and 2!
I know that 100% I am not the fun parent, and I am so okay with that. It’s so funny when other people try to argue with you about it and you’re like, no really it’s fine and it makes sense when you think about my partner.
I got into the habit of narrating everything to my now-3.5yo when he was around 1.5 and his pediatrician was concerned that he had a speech delay. Now I still narrate most things (like grocery shop out loud even though he’s at preschool and I’m alone… oops), but I also spend nap time and preschool time in almost complete silence. When I reflect on it, it might seem weird, but it really does help me recharge.
I saw a similar idea a relatively recently from Kelly at Studio DIY that one of the most unexpected things about parenthood, especially for introverts, is that alone/quiet time is suddenly almost impossible to have. And it was something that I didn’t fully realize had affected me until I read that. And when I can carve out alone/quiet time, I’m a better parent.
Ahh. It’s so great when other moms talk about these things. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
This is soooo refreshing! I have a 11 week old little guy and he has definitely challenged some of my introverted ways. I feel like people expect you to naturally become this extroverted bubbly person overnight cause you are now a mom. But like you said, had the baby and still an introvert. And there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that! I also totally relate to being typcasted as the “bitch” cause I’m more reserved. Now I’m just the “bitch” with the baby I guess haha. Appreciate your honesty!
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