Every phase of life is made more difficult when you’re an introvert. When I was single, my roommates didn’t understand why I didn’t always want to go out and do things. When I was married, my husband didn’t understand why I didn’t always want to have people over. It’s hard explaining your needs and wants to those who don’t get it. You’re called antisocial. You’re called moody. You feel guilty all the time.
I can cope with the guilt when it comes to other adults. But when you have kids? The amount of guilt increases exponentially.
Both my children are social butterflies, especially my daughter. She and her brother both want to be where the people are. She wants to meet new kids and play with them on the daily and have them stay the night and so many other varieties of social interaction that make me want to go ostrich and bury my head in the sand.
On one hand, I want her to have these experiences. I want her to have friends and playmates. I want her to learn how to be kind and patient and to cooperate with others. I want so badly to encourage her friend-making fluttering, but it’s so damn hard on me.
I’m someone who puts the “stay home” in stay-at-home mom. I’m perfectly content taking care of the house and kids and myself 99 days out of 100. It’s easy for me. It energizes me.
Making plans and having people over, or going to their house or the park or where lots of other families are? It makes me tired just thinking about it, and the actual adventure sucks three days’ worth of energy right out of me. Fine, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it sure feels like it. People-ing is hard on us introverts, and people-ing with other small kids is even harder.
So I’m learning to pace myself. The guilt of keeping my kids in our calm cocoon pushes me to do at least one social thing for them per week. Whether that’s a friend coming over to our house, meeting people at the zoo, or even just taking them to a McDonald’s PlayPlace. I know it’s not a lot. I know it doesn’t seem like much. One social thing a week, really? But for me, it is a lot.
I’m trying really hard to push past my need for solitude. As parents, we all have the desire to sacrifice everything — our time, our money, our own happiness — if it makes our children’s lives better. It’s that love I’m relying on while I step out of my own comfort zone to cultivate joy in the hearts of my children while they play with other kids or enjoy a new adventure.
Someday, before I know it, they’ll be adults and gone, and I can revert back to my introverted ways full-time. Maybe I’ll even get a cat to keep me occasional company. Until then, though, I’m going to do my best to give my kids the socialization they crave and silence the “you’re antisocial” guilt trip.
Could I do more? Yes, we always can be doing more. But I know I’m doing as much as I can, and self-care is also a vital part of successful parenting, so finding this balance is key.