I only have three kids, but there are currently five children walking around my house right now eating all of the food I just bought. Taylor Swift is blaring in my daughter’s room while my son and his friend are lifting weights in the basement, grunting and throwing things around. They want more friends to come over. They want more food. They are asking me if they can start YouTube channels. In other words, they are killing me slowly.
The other day my son had a friend at our house all day, and as soon as his friend left, we ran some errands. While we were driving down the road — a mere minutes after he had parted ways with his friend — he started texting another friend and discovered he was with his mom a few miles behind us. “Mom, can we pull over? Sam is right behind us! He can hop in and run errands with us, then spend the night. Maybe we can get ice cream.”
No, no he can’t. Because this mama has had enough peopling for one day, and I need solitude.
All three of my kids are extroverts, and I am fucking exhausted. I am not wired the same way. I like to be social, but I need to be alone some of the time. I am a good listener, an expert cuddler, and reader. I can do those things things all day. And while I do like to get crazy and have fun, I have an expiration date. They do not. They would talk on the phone all night if I let them, then get up the next morning and rage with their friends all day, then repeat the process until the end of time. I know this because I tried to “out-socialize” them hoping they would get cravings to be alone and slow down a touch. It didn’t work.
They came out of my uterus as social butterflies. While they all went through various stages or relative quiet, and my teenage son currently spends a lot of time in his room to get away from me, they have always liked their calendars full and are drawn to people. When we go to big cities, they eat up the energy, the people, the culture, all of it. They love being in the middle of a crowded store or concert. The first time I took them on a subway, they almost exploded from excitement whereas I felt like a deflated balloon in desperate need of a nap. They obviously like more social interaction than I do, and that’s okay.
I’m not necessarily complaining. I am glad they have the energy and confidence to go up to strangers, make friends, and have a grand old time without me. It’s lovely, most of the time. But it’s hard when I have to be the fun police and say “no” — for my own well-being. Because my house cannot be the grand plaza all the time, and I am not an Uber driver.
Like so many outgoing introverts, I need time to refuel, and I simply can’t be the kind of mother I want to be when I am on 24/7 for other peoples’ kids. Being a (relatively) polite hostess by putting the kibosh on my swearing habit, and making sure not to yell at my kids while eating cake over the kitchen sink, braless, is hard work. And I need a rest.
I want to fill their needs to be social, but I also need to fill my needs without making them ashamed of who they are. This is tricky because I’m often a “yes” mom when it comes to their social calendars, because guilt. And then when I need a break and say no to parties, playdates, and visitors, they aren’t happy with me. But mama’s needs need to come first once in a while too, dammit. It’s hard for them to understand why I need a break just as it’s hard for me to understand why they require no down time whatsoever.
I gave birth to three Energizer bunnies, and I need about 6 shots of caffeine and 10 hours of sleep a night to keep up. So for now, I will try to embrace their social lives and find a happy medium by keeping the fridge stocked with caffeine, and saying no every once in a while. Because it not only important for my kids to be happy some of time, it’s important for me to be happy some of the time too.