By Christine Clemer
I am a total introvert.
It’s not that I don’t like people, but I definitely need lots of time to myself. I actually really enjoy socializing in certain situations, but I do tend to feel exhausted afterward.
I used to think this was a bad thing, perhaps partially because my previous career in business, a lifetime ago, so highly valued outgoing people who excelled at networking and selling ideas to clients. I remember once we took a personality quiz at a training event and they had everyone in each category stand up. I was like one of two introverts out of over a hundred people.
I’ve since read a lot about the differences between introverts and extroverts and now realize that both are really valuable, just different. I highly recommend the book Quiet (and the author’s podcast) if this interests you.
I have found though that certain parts of motherhood can be really hard as an introvert. (I am also fully aware that there would be big challenges for extroverted parents too. Babies and early bedtimes aren’t exactly supportive of an active social life….)
While it seems as though society is becoming increasingly understanding and accepting of introverts, babies and toddlers seem to be a little behind that trend.
What? You want to be alone in the bathroom for three whole minutes? Outrage!
In a way, it is super sweet to have a tiny person who wants you within his reach for 100% of his waking (and maybe sleeping…) hours. It can also be challenging though, when you need and crave time to yourself.
These days my toddler goes to bed very reliably at 7 o’clock, so I know I can count on a few hours in the evening to take time for myself if needed. (I of course love spending this time with my wonderful husband too!)
In the newborn days though, this was one of the most challenging things for me. When nighttime sleep was so unreliable, I often went to bed right after (or even before!) my son. At that time he was mostly napping on me, so nap times did not generally offer an opportunity for alone time either.
I could not have been any more in love with my new little guy, but it still felt like a very basic and essential need of my own was not being met. I truly need time to myself to feel happy and healthy, and that just wasn’t happening. And in retrospect, that was 100% my fault.