I didn’t even know I was an introvert mom until about 10 years ago. As a mom, I just knew that I needed more physical space than other moms seemed to need. I needed more time alone, more time away from my baby, more time away from everyone. For the longest time, I felt like something was wrong with me. Why didn’t I want to hold my baby for hours on end? Why did the chaos and noise make me feel so jittery? 

I must not be a good mom, I thought. Maybe I’m not maternal, whatever the heck that means.

Related: What parenting as an introvert is really like 

I spent a lot of time ashamed that I needed time away from my baby. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t tolerate co-sleeping with my baby or toddler. And I felt lonely, because despite the need for personal space, I also desperately craved connection. 

Once I realized there wasn’t anything wrong with me—I was just an introvert who needed more time alone and personal space to recharge—it was like a weight had been lifted. I no longer felt ashamed at what didn’t come natural to me and leaned into what did come natural to me as a parent. I relished quiet activities with my kids, like reading books and coloring together. I listened to my own needs more. And I set boundaries and taught others to respect them.

Now that my kids are older—teen and almost-teen—I have realized just how challenging it can be to be an introvert mom with young children. But it does get easier. If you’re an introvert mom who feels maxed out, who feels out of place and overwhelmed by the physical demands of parenting, you aren’t alone.

Related: Moms need more energy than ever right now—here’s where to get it 

I know what it’s like to love watching your kids play, but not wanting to join in. You love watching their gleeful squeals when they play “tickle monster” or wrestle, but you observe from a distance because engaging would be sensory overload.

I know what it’s like to feel lonely and left out sometimes. You want to be invited to moms’ nights out and other social gatherings, but you often decline because you need quiet time at home more.

I know what it’s like to enjoy playdates and social outings until that moment when a switch is flipped and you just can’t socialize another minute, when you need to go home, stat

I know what it's like to feel burned out and touched out, to struggle to find the emotional energy to parent your child, especially when you have an energetic, extrovert child.

I know what it’s like to have the chaos and unpredictability of parenting make you feel anxious and angry—followed immediately by guilt for feeling this way.

I know what it’s like to love our kids with all your heart and soul, and to also need a break from them, to look forward to a time when they need you just a little less.

I know what it’s like to want friends—true friends—but to feel strange and awkward because small talk is exhausting and you turn into the proverbial pumpkin after too much time in social gatherings. 

I know what it’s like to hang on to nap time (and later “quiet time”), not because your kids need the nap but because you need an hour or two break from the constant noice and activity. 

I know what it’s like to be unable to carry on a conversation by the end of the day because even the sound of your own voice makes you cringe.

Related: 5 powerful ways sensitive moms can take care of themselves 

I know what it’s like to love your kids with all your heart and soul, and to also need a break from them, to look forward to a time when they need you just a little less.

I know what it’s like to worry that you are somehow lacking as a mom because you feel these things. And I also know the deep sense of relief you feel when you realize that there’s nothing wrong with you at all. You are an introvert, as simple and complicated as that.

The struggle of the introvert mom is real—especially when raising young kids—but you aren’t alone.