It has been busier than usual for us for the past few weeks, and if you know me, you know that “busy” does not make me feel good. It does not bring this sense of accomplishment to me as it does to many others! In fact, it brings with it’s busyness much anxiety and questioning on my part, so I try to steer clear of the “busy trend” as much as I can.The past few weeks have been a bit challenging. Jeremie was away for work for most of the past three weeks, coming over for the weekend and then heading off again. Not that I’m complaining, it’s always been that way for us... November and the beginning of December are his busy “end of the season” time... and we know that if we push through we will get to be together for most of the winter months but still in the midst of it, being alone with four kiddos day and night can bring it’s toll on a mother!
It just happened that at the same time I started reading the “Introverted Mom” book by Jamie C. Martin. I have to quote a few passages from the book... it felt so much like me...
“If you get up early or stay up late, just to soak in the silence, you might be an introverted mother.
If you know you must build in recovery time after every playdate, you might be an introverted mother.
If you’re secretly relieved when a planned outing gets cancelled, you might be an introverted mother.
If you sometimes wish you could do more, but your body, mind, and spirit point out that you can’t, you might be an introverted mother.
If your idea of a perfect night is a hot bath and a good book, you might be an introverted mother.
If chitchat exhausts you, but you love meaningful conversations with a close friend, you might be an introverted mother.
If you’ve instituted a mandatory hour or more of quiet time in the afternoons, you might be an introverted mother.
If you’ve ever wondered why a typical day can drain you completely, you might be an introverted mother.
If you believe a peaceful home is the best place in the world, you might be an introverted mother.”
I took the Myers Briggs test a few weeks ago and scored a nice 56% introverted... my sister laughed out loud when I told her I was an introvert. Funny how we so often stereotype introverted people as being anti social book nerds with no people skills. Hopefully, (and judging by my sister’s reaction) that is not how I come across (even though I do have a passion for books and my husband once gave me the “How to make friends and influence people” book...hint, hint). I love meeting new people, I enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone and discovering new places and new experiences! But... I do not recharge with people... in fact, it is quite the opposite for me. As much as I love being around people, at the end of a good playdate, I have no energy left. Even at the end of a regular day, I feel like I gave it my all and just want to sink into a hot bath and enjoy the silence! Here’s the irony... I haven’t taken a hot bath since a little over a year (we live in a RV remember) in fact, I haven’t had the chance to enjoy more than four minutes of hot water before I have to hurry out of a cold shower! There is no “lather, rinse and repeat” going on here if you know what I mean!
I’ve been hearing the term “self-care” thrown around a lot lately. And of course, with it comes all sort of opinions and judgements. What it is, what it’s not, who needs it, who doesn’t... and to be honest, I used to think that self-care was for the weaker ones, the ones who were too frail to handle whatever life threw at them... growing up, I never saw my mom take a “day off”... I come from a religious background, and even now I still feel like in this religious circle there’s this thought that if you “live for Christ” then you can do anything without ever needing to think about yourself, that if you are a “good christian” you don’t need self care, that self care is in other words selfish... coming from a religious background I know that even Jesus needed some time off after being in a crowd for extended periods of time...He took walks in the garden and prayed by himself...
Self care does not have to be a day at the spa... self care to me is finding what refreshes my soul and doing a little bit of it every day. It’s accepting yourself for who you are with your great strengths but also your weaknesses and learning to cope with them. It’s finding ways to bring a “buffer” into your life so that where once you felt like you couldn’t handle whatever is coming your way you now feel like you can take a breath and deal with it without lashing out in anger.
Here’s some information that I found very helpful again from the “Introverted mom” book. She shares in bullet form what are the main stressors for introverted people (from the blog Psychology Junkie):
Having to focus too much on sensory/concrete details
An overload of sensory stimulation or noise
Distress within close relationships
Having values violated
Not enough alone time; too much extroverting
Working with closed-minded people
Not receiving appreciation or understanding
Unfamiliar environments with excessive amounts of details
Having plans disrupted
Not having a clear direction
Lack of harmony
Criticism and conflict
Not being able to use intuition or to envision the future
Having to focus too much on the present
When under stress, an introverted person may become uncharacteristically angry and quick tempered, unreasonable and irrational.
As you can see for yourself these are all things we are forced to deal with on a daily basis when surrounded by little human beings. Just knowing that I am not alone in this, that other moms feel the same way I do at the end of the day gives me hope...
“Realizing that anger is the natural response to these situations-and that anger in itself is not wrong-lifted a huge weight of guilt off my shoulders.”
“Anger is the natural response to the hard parts of motherhood, especially as an introvert.
Anger is an indicator to pause or to change something.
Quiet is a must for an introverted mom.”
“Our kids cannot flourish in our homes if we constantly live on the edge of our God-given personalities. We are all connected within these walls. That means we must do whatever we can to recharge on a daily basis. We can lament this fact or view it as a gift. Regardless, it is a necessity and if we neglect it, every person in our home will pay the price. By taking care of ourselves, we can care for others well. This, after all, is what we most long for.”
So, I did it. I took an afternoon off. I texted my husband on his last day away telling him that my introverted self needed a break from all these tiny humans we had made. He LOL and agreed, of course! I just wanted to be alone... just wanted to appreciate the silence! He stayed home with the kids while I went to the movies and watched Mr Rogers’ neighbourhood (I’m 31 years old and I had never been to the movies by myself). The movie was just as good as I was hoping it would be... I have to watch the original program now... even Mr Rogers acknowledges that anger is not bad in itself, it’s what you do with it that matters!
I feel like I might have to pound a few notes on the piano like he did in order to deal with these overwhelming feelings of anger whenever my introverted needs aren’t met but in the meantime I will try to bring little moments of peace in my everyday life... and add a few “self-care” days here and there! If you are in need of recharging your own batteries, I highly suggest you go see this movie, our world needs more Mr Rogers!