I’ve always considered myself to be social so when I became a mom and suddenly found myself limping to the finish line every day, I started to get nervous. I’m usually outgoing and energetic.
Sure, motherhood is exhausting—but I'm no stranger to sleep deprivation (#thanksgradschool). With the help of my good friend coffee, I should have been able to adjust. And yet, I started to decline after-work drinks with co-workers so I could run home and sit in my quiet apartment.
I longed for mom friends, and yet I always chose to just play alone with my daughter in the playground over striking up a conversation with another mom nearby. When I wasn’t in the car with my daughter and could listen to my own music, I aways chose to just drive in silence instead.
I was worried about myself. I had my thyroid checked. I made an appointment with a therapist. This wasn’t me.
Or was it?
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed one day, when I came across a quiz to tell you what your Myers-Briggs personality test was. Intrigued, I clicked the link and answered some questions.
The results shocked me—Introvert (INFJ, to be specific).
NO way that was right. So I scoured the internet trying to find the research that proved the results wrong. But the more I read the more I began to realize that I am a total and complete introvert.
My fatigue started to make sense. I had been exhausting myself trying to hold onto an idea of who I was, instead of understanding, embracing and respecting what I actually needed to thrive.
By diving deep (like the good little introvert I am), I was able to connect with myself and adjust my routine to meet my new normal as a mom.
While our extroverted peers thrive off of social engagements, introverts are drained by them.
Let me be clear—that does not mean we don't want to hang out! We want to schedule play dates and come to parties (please invite us to your parties!).
It's just that they can make us really tired, so we have to be careful. Bouncing from one play date to another, and then a girls night out is just not something I can do gracefully—I pay for it the next day by being extra tired and cranky. It's taken me a while to learn this about myself, and longer to be okay with it.
This is challenging as a mom—school pick up, soccer practice, playdates— it’s all so social! And that’s great. I just have to be strategic with my scheduling. I don’t overdo social engagements, which means that when I do have them, I can truly enjoy them.
I make time to recharge alone, or in the company of my nearest and dearest (like my husband). I have to prioritize working that into my schedule. I feel the consequences when I don’t.
Introverts tend to be introspective and in-tune with ourselves.
I’m never caught off guard by a bad mood—I notice the most subtle changes in myself, and can feel my mood start to shift ever-so-slightly.
While in many ways it’s great to be so self-aware, it’s also very tiring, especially as a mom. As my kids go through the (normal and expected) mood swings of young children, I have to work really hard not to jump on the roller coaster with them. I feel my attitude shifting throughout the day, and it takes a lot of work to stay mindfully present in the moment.
I meditate. I take a lot of deep breaths during the day. And I force myself to take breaks where I can really pay attention to to my needs, and address them before they become issues.
Our brains are good at deep, deep thinking. We turn problems over and over in our heads searching for the perfect solution. And while this is very good for solving complex mathematical equations, it is very inconvenient when trying to make “simple” decisions like picking out the family’s holiday photo outfit, or figuring out exactly how to word the perfect email... about a school snack.
Motherhood is filled with decisions—hundreds every day. I am working hard to learn to trust my intuition and decision making skills, so that I don’t have to agonize over every. single. detail. Because maybe the blue shoes would be better, but honestly the yellow ones are completely fine too.
We are very sensitive.
Perhaps most relevant to a mama introvert is that we are highly sensitive, which means we are easily over-stimulated. The normal happenings of the world around us affect us deeply. Studies have even shown that introverts process more sensory information than extroverts.
So loud noises (hello tantrums), crowds (hello children's museums) and flashing colors and lights (hello Sponge Bob Square Pants), get under our skin easily.
Before I had kids, I could be a lot more self-focused. When I noticed myself starting to be feel tired or “talked-out,” it was easy to retreat and focus on some quiet, energy-replenishing me time. Not so when you are responsible for keeping a tiny human alive.
Essentially, motherhood is one big stimulation-fest, and it's exhausting. So we have to find real moments of quiet, solitude and peace. We have to plan them into our day, and hold them sacred, in order to honor the sensitive part of us that makes us unique.
I think this is why I am craving a more simplified home and life. I want to cut out on the distractions, so my brain can focus on the things it really loves.
Introversion is not a short coming. I actually love being an introvert, and I'm learning how to totally own it—
I notice the slightest shift in my extroverted husband's mood, often before he does. I totally get that when my daughter comes home from school she needs an hour before she can tell me how her day was. I am deeply passionate about the subjects that matter to me, and I dive deep into my work around them.
I am a listener. I am an (over)thinker. I am a feeler.
I am an introvert, here me roar... except you probably won't ?.