Confessions of an Introverted Parent

summer

I’m ashamed I have to white-knuckle it through summer.  Summer is supposed to be carefree and super sunny smiley, right?

As I’ve mentioned before, socializing and stimulation are big energy expenders for introverts.  We may love the company and excitement of a gathering or activity but afterward solitude will be sought in order to recharge. When we think about socializing we picture parties and pubs but social interactions are happening all the time — even in our homes, between family members.

Somewhere around the beginning of May, I get the tiniest twinge of tangled anxiety in the pit of my stomach and it grows steadily as the school calendar slips away. On the last day of school, when the school bus rounds the bend, windows down, children chanting, I take a deep internally nourishing breath and brace myself for three months of introvert self-denial.

Children Are Precious. Self-interest is Wrong.  I Know, I Know.

Before someone gets child protection on the line, let me say I love my three children and work very hard to keep them from needing major therapy as adults. Their psychological well-being is forefront in my heart and mind, which is why their constant summer presence is particularly draining.  I feel the need to be ON emotionally and physically for them at all times.  I love their creative minds and developing spirits. I can’t stand letting them down.

For the record I ‘m not sure if any of my children are introverts.  They all have some characteristics but at their ages (13, 11, 9) it’s cool and culturally expected to be extroverted, so they may try to compensate for any introspectiveness with ultra outgoing-ness. Come to think of it, it’s cool and culturally expected at my age to be outgoing too.

Whatever their personality type, when they are with me I am part of a group. Group interacting is stimulating and energy consuming for an introvert, even when that group is your family.

Why Did You Have Three Children if They Overwhelm You?

 I’ve pondered this many times. Several reasons really:

1. My former husband and I always said we wanted three.  It was our plan. He was one of three close brothers. Their team-like camaraderie was idyllic and appealing.

2. Our children were fairly easy and angelic as infants and toddlers.  They took regular naps, laughed and cooed, followed the schedule we designed. I was lulled into thinking this parenting thing isn’t so tough. I loved being a baby mom, although I do remember

What I thought my children would be like.

What I thought my children would be like.

feeling scared and unsure of my ability to juggle things when I found out I was pregnant with our third. The solution: hire a college student to help (which was great but also meant more people around).

3. I had no idea what an introvert was and no clue I was one.  I figured I’m a healthy, intelligent woman with a helpful husband.  I did not know that crowds and stimulation were my kryptonite and even if I did I would have fought that knowledge because…

4. I wanted to demonstrate and believe I could handle three children.  If I have the privilege of staying at home with the kids then I should be able to manage three of them, yes? I pushed myself because I wanted to be energetic, nurturing and organized like the other moms who seemed to get a high from camp scheduling, erratic carpooling and utter child devotion.

Entertaining is Draining

Reality

Reality

As a girl, I had six dolls that I played with for hours every day.  I dressed them, fed them and brushed their hair.  I never had to entertain them.  They dutifully listened to my soft nurturing words. I got blissfully lost in their care and company. Just like when my children were babies. Of course, raising children bears little resemblance to that. There is an urgency I feel emanating from my kiddos.  They desire entertainment and attention. I suck at entertaining people. My favorite and most comfortable form of entertainment is meaningful conversation.  Kids don’t give a rat’s ass about meaningful conversation.  They want water slides, jet skis, amusement parks, crowded-pool swimming and other large muscle group actions. I’m not sure if I can chalk this up to introversion, but I can take those activities in small doses only.

I like excitement but it must be balanced with downtime.

Sometimes I see the beauty of Mad Men days when kids were forced outside while the moms smoked and drank in the kitchen…(joking, but contemplated;)

Bickering is Bad

Teasing, taunting, joking, kidding, belittling and plain old fighting. It triggers deep-seated  feelings in me. I spent many years duking it out with my sister for attention. It took away a sense of psychological safety in my childhood home.  I couldn’t fully relax unless I was tucked away in my upstairs bedroom away from the competition and rivalry. I always swore my kids would never feel that, but here we are drowning in disses and one-upmanship. I have an instant desire to shore up the child being picked on or left out.  Empathy overrides my logic and places me in the middle of things, playing referee.  I know this is a futile place but I hate seeing anyone spiritually wounded.  I feel called into action, and my energy reserves suffer.

Hell is other people.  ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Somehow despite my uneasiness with crowds and commotion, our house has become the ‘fun house’ where kids like to congregate. We frequently have additional kids for lunch.  Our yard, playroom and Xbox apparently sparkle more than others in the neighborhood. Part of me takes pride in this and understands how beneficial and self-esteem boosting the friendships are. I see their eyes glimmer as they concoct batches of invinci-bubbles in the driveway.  I hear their enthusiasm and laughter as they play ‘don’t land in the lava’ in the basement. So I quietly repeat my mantra, Come from a place of abundance, as I flip and serve stacks of grilled cheese and dream of the day when I’ll say, The more the merrier!, and mean it.

Another part of me screams for space to complete just one thought.  My introverted brain relishes daydreaming, idea generating and thoughtful life examination. Herds of children guarantee interruptions.  Interruptions are especially irritating for introverts because we get so deeply entangled in our yarn of thoughts that it is effortful and time-consuming to get back into our thinking trance. It’s easier to just stay in surface thoughts like — the trash needs taking out, orthodontist appointment at 3, I’ll do laundry next. Easier but way less fulfilling and energy generating.

Surviving and Dealing with the Guilt

At this point, the cat is out of the bag with my children.  They know I struggle with their summer presence.  They see it in my hollow eyes and hear it in my agitated voice.  I am ever so sorry they have this knowledge. I would give anything to be bubbly super mom with

My hero, Caroline Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie

My hero, Caroline Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie

craft ideas and a penchant for chaos.  I would love to wear adoring eyes all the time (not solely after a session of solitude).

As mentioned in Introverts Explained: Why We Love You but Need to Get Away From You, introspectives can love someone to the nth degree but still require space to recharge.  It is innate. Our brains turn to mush, our spirits languish and our energy  flags if we are never allowed to renew in solitude. This truth is especially difficult to swallow if you’re the connection-needing child or the guilt-ridden but space-needing parent. The parent-child relationship trumps all, doesn’t it?

Salvation Amidst Bickering and Big Energy

So how do I make summer alright? I insert pockets of salvation.

I run by myself on the trails that surround my neighborhood.

I care for myself by getting up two hours earlier than the rest of the house.  In those two hours of stillness I am made whole again.  I write, read, exercise, connect with my inner world and renew.

We, as a family, take road trips to scratch our curiosity itch and infuse our days with wonder. We go for ice cream often.  We go for walks in the woods.  We visit an old-school lodge located on a peaceful lake that has a righteous rec-room complete with pinball, ping-pong and a jukebox. We experience alternating commotion and stillness at the zoo. These are the joyous summer settings I live for, where we connect.  These are gems amidst bickering and big energy.

As introverts, how do you experience parenting? Do any of you recognize introversion in your own parents? If so, how did that affect you as a child?

If Confessions of an Introverted Parent hit home with you, check out these similar posts:

Introverts Explained: Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You (space2live)

In Defense of Introverted Parents (space2live)

18 Things An Introverted Mom Wants Her Kids to Know (space2live)

When Parenting Overwhelms (space2live)

There’s Nothing Wrong with You.  You’re an Introvert (space2live)

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48 Comments

  1. Avyanna
    April 16, 2016

    OMG! I can relate to EVERYTHING you wrote. It took me 2 hours to read this because of all the reflections and memories coming up for me both when I was a child and as a mom of five.
    I will write back and comment more. There just seems like so much I can relate to and comment on.
    Stop feeling guilty! I did, too! You are a wonderful loving parent.
    My head is just swimming and swarming right now because I could have written this about myself, my thoughts, my experiences.
    I will definitely be back when I can get all these jumbled thoughts in my monkey mind together 🙂

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 17, 2016

      It’s always comforting to hear when others had similar experiences. Thanks for your reassurance regarding parenting. I truly appreciate it. I’d love to hear about your experiences and any insight you’ve gleaned.

      Reply
  2. Amanda
    April 4, 2015

    I’m an extreme introvert with social anxiety to top it off with. I’ve been aware that it makes me unaprocable because I come off as snob or weirdo etc. im a mum of 1 almost 3 year old. She is totally an extrovert and I find it totally exhausting at times. Like making small talk with every dog owner we walk past on any outing we take. at this point do not have a network of friends. Not good at watering the freind plants. All the lady’s, now that I could use some friends, I’ve tried to befriend are 2 busy for additional freinds. Heavy sigh….. Good to know other mums don’t feel shi++y about needing there space. ☺️ Thanks

    Reply
  3. Yody
    January 29, 2015

    Hi, I’ve read many blogs being this one the first comment I’ve made. Don’t feel guilty. I know what you are going through. I have 3 kids,and I’m also an introvert. Don’t apologize that is who you are!

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      January 30, 2015

      Thank you. It’s always nice to know you are not alone. I’m figuring out how to be a good mother and human along with celebrating the gifts of introversion. You’re right. It is who I am.:)

      Reply
  4. Amy
    January 4, 2015

    Thank you for your insight! My kids are older, but I feel like I ignored them when they were younger. My 17 year old son just went back to his dads, and I’ve spent the past 2 days “vegging” out, exhausted from worrying about keeping him busy. I allow our 15 year old daughter to live in her room. I feel guilty because she’s always in her room. I just prefer reading a book or crocheting to interacting with people. I have a people-centered job in which I talk to people all day. I am drained every day and just let my mind go blank when I get home. I haven’t read everything in your blog, but I plan to. Thanks for discussing this topic.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      January 5, 2015

      I can understand your need to let your ‘mind go blank’ when you get home. I, of course, would never want introversion to be an excuse to ignore anyone, but I know what you mean when you say you worry about keeping the kids busy or allowing them so much time in their rooms. Our current culture makes us feel like we should be entertaining or holding hands with our children every second possible. Some people can do that and want to. I cannot and do not want to.
      I am a believer in being very present when I am with my children. I believe in quality over quantity time. Your daughter may love the time in her room by herself. I know I did when I was her age. Recharge yourself and then let some of that energy spill over onto your kids. You’ll be a better parent that way. As long as they feel loved. It wouldn’t hurt to discuss introversion with them, perhaps share a post or two from space2live (a neutral party).
      Hug them and deeply listen when you can. Be gentle with yourself as well. Thank you for reading and sharing your story.

      Reply
  5. Introvert Parenting Guide: Could You Just Play by Yourself Like I Used To? | space2live
    December 12, 2014

    […] Confessions of an Introverted Parent […]

    Reply
  6. Alexis Jennings
    November 16, 2014

    This is exactly what I needed to read. As an introvert I beat myself up quite a bit in my own mind and especially when it comes to my children. My parents were very hands off, weren’t nurturing, and definitely didn’t contribute much in the way of emotional support. So I don’t have a great example to go by. I feel guilty when my daughter (6 yr old extrovert) begs me to play with her, but she does have a 4 year old brother (introvert) who usually wants to play with her. So I’m torn. I had two kids so they wouldn’t be alone and could play together, not so I could have two playmates. Lol. At this age, we do a bit of homeschooling, but they have both shown they aren’t ready for all that structure, but I NEED structure to feel like we’ve accomplished anything. So then I feel at a loss for what to DO with them. Lately somehow it has just started working out that thy figure out what to do and spend hours playing together, instead of spending the same amount of time begging me to play. I have a strict two hour quiet time every afternoon where they both have to be in their own rooms…my 4 year old still naps, but my daughter is allowed to play quietly or draw or something. Two hours may seem like a lot, but it’s my sanity every day. I feel more and more like I’ve been draining away and really don’t have me time. I tried getting up earlier than everyone else, but I also happen to NOT be a morning person. So I was ready to crawl back in the bed for the night at 3 pm…just about the time my kids were getting up from quiet time. Smh. So reading this helped me to know that I am not the only introvert parent who loves her children dearly, but still needs her space from them. I just haven’t completely figured out how to get it. I used to be a writer, but I never have enough down time to get back into the writers’ groove. I actually dream of the day when at least one of my children will be in school, though it’s not going to be for a while. Thanks for sharing. You brought my stress down at least a couple of notches tonight. 🙂

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 17, 2014

      I have been in your shoes. I also have the late afternoon energy flag right when my kids are getting back from school.
      Give yourself a pat on the back for the 2 hour quiet time in the afternoon. You are already establishing boundaries and that’s great! Two hours does not seem like a lot to me.
      I have found that it does get easier as they get older. Mine are 15, 12 and 10 now. They often go in their rooms by themselves or are spending time with their friends. They are more understanding about when I need to work or take a nap. You should be in good shape for that as you have already established some space for yourself. Your kids won’t feel it as rejection.
      I, like you, thought if I have more than one child they can play together but that didn’t work out exactly. They do play together some but they also bicker and fight too (very energy draining).
      Do you have any family in the area? Could your husband relieve you for an afternoon or evening once or twice a week preferably by taking the kids out of the house? Introverts really need chunks of time. An hour here and there is not enough.
      When your kids get a little older you can use my post – Slumber Parties and Kryptonite: Simple Ways to Explain Introversion to Children as a springboard for discussion and a request for downtime.
      Best of luck. Sending you peace and strength and I’ll keep pondering other ways to make parenting easier for an introvert.

      Reply
      • Alexis Jennings
        November 17, 2014

        Hi! Thanks SOOO much for responding! I am truly thankful that someone is actually writing about this topic openly and in a healthy way. I am just starting to learn more about myself and realize that there is nothing wrong with me. To answer your question, we really don’t have family nearby. My mom is about 45 min away, but still has my 18 year old brother to get through high school and he doesn’t drive. lol. And my husband works most evenings after getting home from his day job. Wen he is home though he really just wants to relax. He’ll engage the kids, but only seated in his recliner. Lol. I understand because his job is manually intensive. So he is truly tired…but it makes it hard for me to get what I need. He’s been doing better in letting me leave without the kids every once in a while, but to call it regular would be stretching things quite a bit. So I often feel trapped in my own home, which is sad cause I’m such a homebody. But I often daydream of “running away” and taking a “solo vacation”. Who does that and is married with kids? I know my husband wouldn’t understand that part. We’re planning to spend a week at my step daughter’s for Christmas…complete with a weekend at her in laws house. :dies: And I tried to explain my aversion to my husband, and he thought I was saying I didn’t want to go at all…which isn’t entirely true. Anyway, I felt that the two hour nap time was necessary for me if for no one else, but it would be nice if I could get away or be left alone in the house from time to time as well. As much as I love my kids, and willingly made the decision to be an at home mom, I’m often unsure of what to do with them when they are tired of playing together and want to be with me. I’m not real artsy or crafty, but my daughter loves that stuff and wants me to be involved. I just run out of energy for all that. I procrastinated making homemade piñatas for her birthday, and even cringed at the thought of carving the pumpkin for fall. What are some ideas you have in that area? How can I interact with my 6 yr old extrovert and 4 yr old…who’s probably going to be an introvert…especially when they are showing resistance to school right now. That’s the kind of structure I need to feel like we’re doing something. And they are not really interested so I’ve backed off. But spontaneity really isn’t my strong suit.

        Reply
        • Brenda Knowles
          November 19, 2014

          A couple of easy activities for the kids that they can pretty much do on their own and are not too artsy/craftsy: 1.Take an old cookie sheet and put piles of baking soda all over it (like you would drops of cookie dough) then take an old medicine dropper (cleaned out after child medicine is gone) and let the kids drop vinegar on each pile. For added fun put food coloring in the vinegar. 2. The old miniature marshmallow and toothpick building project. The trick is to have endless supplies of marshmallows and toothpicks and let them go nuts with their ideas. My kids always liked to build houses. These are just a couple of ideas that kep t my kids occupied for long periods of time. Mine also liked to build obstacle courses in the basement and then time themselves going through them. Good luck! Hope you get quality time to yourself.:)

          Reply
          • Alexis
            November 19, 2014

            Thanks again for the ideas! I like the idea of simple activities for the kids that can get their brains engaged without me having to come up with something extremely detailed. I get overwhelmed with arts and crafts because of how involved they tend to be, and because they don’t come naturally to me. It ends up being more of a chore than something fun. I will have to try these and see how they work. As for groups I can be involved with in the community, my biggest hang up is that I usually don’t have someone to watch the kids that consistently. For the adult activities that don’t allow children, I usually just pass for that very reason. There are some homeschool coop groups around that I have been looking into. I do kind of fear hanging out with a bunch of new people…LOL so that has kind of held me back. But even though they have outings and field trips that require a fee, there are also park days (not this time of year) that they host once a month. Most of my friends are working, so that leaves us catching up in church or at the salon, or birthday parties. It isn’t horrible because at least I can say I have friends, but it would be nice if we could hang out more often. I truly look forward to the day when I can either have the resources to hire a sitter one night a week regularly, so that I can go out and do something that I enjoy. I will look into your ideas about writing, and groups or settings where I can take my children with me. I appreciate that suggestion. And volunteering is actually a good way to meet people, teach your children a valuable lesson, and help others in need. All great ideas. Thanks again for taking the time to listen to my rants. LOL. This really is refreshing.

  7. Tamiko
    November 15, 2014

    This is wonderful -thank you for writing your feelings down. I dread summer at times. This year, I will be working P/T during the summer so am “forced” to put my daughter into summer classes while I’m working. I’m secretly glad to be off the hook for half a day.

    After almost 9 years of being a stay-at-home mother to one child (a daughter who is both introverted and extroverted), I realize now how much I needed work in my life. Not for the money, really -just to get away and to own my own time, even for a little while!!!

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 16, 2014

      It’s hard for parents to say they need time away from their children. Our current culture asks that we always put the child first. I often feel like we’re responsible for entertaining the kids and that’s hard to keep up, especially for introverts. I think we’re all better parents if we fill ourselves up regularly.

      I think you have the perfect summer setup. The job and adult interaction will feed you. It will be good for your daughter as well. She’ll learn Mom is a person too.:)

      Reply
  8. Danielle
    September 20, 2014

    Thank you for writing this. I’m an extremely introverted single mom with 2 very chatty boys. Except, for me, I can’t ever seem to get a long enough break. I went on vacation solo last fall for 2 days and that was the first time I felt renewed since I had my kids.

    I find myself frustrated a lot. A whole lot. And then my frustration frustrates me. I feel like a terrible parent.

    It’s impossible to be in your head, experiencing the moment and attentively parent. Their attention requests are too much. People tell me to relish these moments because “they grow up so fast”. I inwardly roll my eyes every time.

    My mother and father were similar to me, needing time alone. It was lonely, as a kid. And I felt rejected. But I survived pretty intact. Their introversion was the least of my complaints.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      September 24, 2014

      Dear Danielle,
      Sorry it’s taken so long for me to get back to you. I responded a few days ago but WordPress wouldn’t process it. It is a little hard to swallow those well-meaning comments from the parents who relish every minute with their kids. I remember reading a quote that said when raising kids the years are short but the days are long. That sounds about right. The days can be extremely loooong some days.

      Are there any ways your parents could have made their time away from you less lonely? I’m always looking for ideas to curtail our introvert guilt or quell our special people’s feelings of rejection.

      Know you are not alone. Two chatty boys are both wonderful and energy draining. I will tell you it gets easier as they get older (not sure how old your sons are). My kids are often with friends or in their rooms. Establishing quiet time is always a good first step towards creating self-ful boundaries. Best of luck and thanks for sharing your story.

      Reply
  9. Maintaining Energy Levels Is NO Vacation When it Comes to Family Time - Wise Introvert
    August 20, 2014

    […] In fact, Brenda from space2live writes with such honesty and vulnerability about this topic in Confessions of an Introverted Parent (and more – I love her writing and encourage you to check it […]

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      August 21, 2014

      Thanks for including me in your piece. I definitely understand the drain of too much togetherness. It’s a feeling we can’t change but nevertheless feel guilty about. Understanding and awareness helps. 🙂

      Reply
  10. devi6913
    July 1, 2014

    It’s really comforting to me as a parent to read this right now. I have two kids a six year old girl and a four year old boy. they are both on vacation. and i just feel like i’m sitting here with my mind turned to mush because i can’t take it. I haven’t gotten alone time. I do get alone time at night and as much as I do enjoy that, I’m slapped with the repercussion of having stayed up late with wide away needy children as soon as I wake and i just already feel stressed out! I miss when my son would go to preschool for three hours a day while my daughter was in school from 8:30 – 2:20. I enjoyed just coming home and hearing nothing. just sitting there, listening to silence, cooking my meals in silence. If i don’t get me time i feel like my kids have me on a leash and drag me around through the day with their demands and desires. I’m on the verge of losing my mind! Everyone who knows me, knows i’m an introvert, a few friends refer to me as a hermit because I like to keep to myself. I have felt terrible the past couple of days slumming around my home listening to their chattering and bickering and not a moment of silence! I NEED MY SPACE! (Perhaps this is just the result of harbored up anxiety that’s left me slightly catatonic) I feel awful and selfish, normally i’m a great mom! People always compliment me on being so active with my kids and doing crafts and activities with them, but in the summers i am in no state for it. I feel so much better knowing i’m not the only one…

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      July 2, 2014

      I am going to be bold and say I think we as a culture have given too much control to our kids. We are adults and we feel like our whole world should revolve around them and their activities.

      I did crafts, played games, played outside and did sports without much intervention from my parents. Coaches, teachers, friends – they were involved. I believe in guiding and loving our children but the idea that we should be their playmates and provide for their every need is overwhelming.

      You are definitely not alone. I understand every word you said. I have a feeling you are a great mom. Please be gentle with yourself. It helped when my kids went to camp for some time during the summer. I still do what my mom used to do and tell my kids to go outside. My kids always end up finding something creative to do if I push them outside.;) Do you have a partner to share the childcare with? If so, I suggest being brutally honest with how this is affecting your well being and ask for help. In the long run, it will make your whole household happier.
      Thank you for sharing so honestly. I will tell you it gets easier as they get older. I even have times during the day now that I get to sneak off to my laptop and work.:)

      Reply
  11. Z
    May 12, 2014

    Extraverts by nature are takers. Extraverted children are the worst. It’s important that your children learn not to destroy introverts with their wild needs, and that includes you. I do not buy into this culture where parents are the slaves to their children. You are in charge. Don’t raise narcissists. Send them out to play, give them simple healthy lunches that don’t require cooking. Children belong out in the fresh air, being creative with their friends. You are not their friend, you are their parent. Don’t let them hold you hostage.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      May 12, 2014

      It does feel like parents are slaves to their children some days. In all of our efforts to build kids’ self esteem we’ve let ourselves be trampled. I believe kids actually need rules and guidelines although I admit I will do almost anything to avoid major conflict. Conflict drains me so.
      I try to allow my kids as much unstructured time as possible. I want them to be a little bored and figure out what they really want to do (without a schedule telling them what’s next). Thanks for your straightforward comment!

      Reply
  12. Kitsune
    April 24, 2014

    I’ve just found this blog and it was what I needed to read; thank you for the detailed and sincere observations you’ve shared here. Sometimes it’s easy to wonder if I’m the only mother who feels this way. I only have one child, but she has been extremely stubborn and independent from the earliest days – which will perhaps serve her well as an adult (boy does she know her own mind), but makes the job of parenting so much more draining.

    What I find myself wondering is, as quite an extreme introvert, just how much time do I need to myself in order to re-charge and maintain my well-being? Whatever that magic number is for me, I haven’t had it in 11 years of being a parent, and for almost 10 of those years I have been ill with chronic fatigue syndrome. I have seen doctors, had tests, tried medications, been to therapy, tried hundreds of holistic remedies, and none of it has helped. I feel forced to conclude that parenthood itself is making me ill, through stress, which is a very dark thing that I’ve never felt I could really share with anybody (apart from therapists). Even when my daughter went to school and I was at home during the day, I couldn’t get well, though my symptoms were not as bad as other times when I’ve been working – apart from the long school holidays, during which I would gradually feel worse and worse (it was interesting to read that you feel the same way about those). It’s almost unspeakably horrible saying these things when I love my little girl so much and would do anything for her. We don’t have friends or family who can ever look after her for more than a few hours at a time, so I don’t know, and cannot know, what it would be like to have a few days to recuperate without the constant demands of parenthood, and that hasn’t been good for my marriage either. I find myself feeling angry a lot about our impersonal society that provides so little support to people who are isolated.

    Being introverted often feels like a curse to me for these reasons, and because I find it hard to make friends. But maybe reading more of this blog will help me be more accepting of myself for who I am. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 24, 2014

      First of all, you’re not alone. Everything you described (except having chronic fatigue) I have felt and experienced. Chronic fatigue is mysterious and robs you of your freedom. I’ve known other women with it.
      We haven’t had any family to serve as backup babysitters for the last 9 years. It’s difficult never being able to have Grandma and Grandpa take the kids for the weekend. I feel for you.
      Do you have good women friends? My female tribe gives me invaluable energy and support. It’s so natural and essential to our spirit to connect with our feminine essence. With my friends I can be honest about relationships, parenting, caring for extended family, career thoughts. I can dream and cry with them. I wish that for you.
      I suggest you find time to do things that make your heart soar. I know life is full and busy but expanding yourself will create energy. Try something you’ve never done before. During midlife we go through a beautiful transition. It’s our time to become whole. If you have something just for you then you will have something to share with your husband and child. They will see you differently. Trust me.
      Exercise, music and writing have changed me. I began to dig deeply into those when I was in my late 30s.
      Big hug. Let yourself shine. Thank you for writing and sharing. I think you’ll find many kindred spirits on space2live.

      Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 24, 2014

      I had another thought for you. Have you read any of Elaine Aron’s book on highly sensitive people? I’d guess you are an HSP. Check out her books and website if you haven’t already. Insightful and validating.

      Reply
      • Kitsune
        May 2, 2014

        Hello Brenda, thank you for your kind replies. I’m still looking forward to reading more of your blog; I’m sure it will be very helpful for me. I had friends in the USA, where I grew up, though they are scattered across the country now; I’ve been in the UK for 20 years and have never been very good at maintaining contacts when I leave jobs etc. So no, I don’t really have any friends here, and it’s definitely a problem. I’ve actively tried to find activities where I can enjoy myself and meet people, and I won’t list everything I’ve attempted, but it all seems to end up being temporary or peter out. I am still trying though. I had heard of the highly sensitive person theory before and I do seem to meet the criteria, so I will look into that in some more depth. Thanks again, and best wishes.

        Reply
  13. Sam B
    March 30, 2014

    Thank you thank you for such a wonderfully relatable and FREEING post. I had thought I was one of those people who wasn’t supposed to be a mum, because I found the constant need for attention physically,emotionally and mentally draining. Given my husband is an extrovert he doesn’t understand at all where i’m coming from and that what can seem like a totally normal life and situation, just wears me down if I don’t get time to recharge by myself. I’m contemplating having another kid but I don’t feel like I have the energy for it, to enable me to be the kind of parent I want to be. I’m worried it will ‘break’ me. So for now, we will be One and Done.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      March 31, 2014

      You are not alone! 🙂 I hope your husband has some awareness of introversion so that he understands and honors your needs. That awareness and respect will greatly benefit your family. It’s OK to establish boundaries early with your child as well. A scheduled quiet time every day is a good thing.:)
      In my experience, two children are exponentially more work than one. If you have family or help in the area that makes it easier. Love for your children will get your through all the challenging days but you are very wise to consider your limits. How mom feels ripples through the whole house. Hugs and strength to you. Thank you for sharing your story.

      Reply
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  19. OB1
    August 21, 2013

    I’m so happy that I came across your blog! Summer is almost over, I have held on desperately by my fingernails, waiting for this hell to end! I adore my two children, but am told constantly by my overbearing, extrovert mother that I’m the type of person that never should have had children. This has been hammered into my head by her because she thinks that if the kids and I don’t leave the house on a daily basis to “have fun” they will end up just like me (to her that’s a fate worse than death!). My son is 15 and totally introverted, which forces my mother to incessantly tell me that he’s acting weird and society won’t understand him and he won’t get ahead in life. My 6 year old daughter on the other hand is a high strung, bubbly social butterfly. I’m STRUGGLING to be a good mother to her and take care of her social needs! On top of being introverted, I’m prone to depression which makes going out and socializing so hard. I’m happy to know that there are other mothers just like me and that I’m not the horrible person I thought I was. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      August 21, 2013

      I am always hanging on by my fingernails at the end of summer. I start to get anxiety about summer in mid-April. I have similar children to yours plus one more son who is introverted. My daughter (age 9) is very sensitive and an extrovert. She is an old soul (so lovely) who likes company all the time. I love the relationships I have with my children but their sheer numbers make our house a group setting all the time. Lots of outflowing energy… I so want my kids to have blissful memories of their childhood. I try to do meaningful activities that engage us all. May they forget the days when mom seemed zombie-like or worse, on the edge of a meltdown.:)
      I have to say this summer was a little easier because my oldest is a teenager and has taken to his room or any other space where others are not. Nevertheless, I crave and breathe time to myself. When my children are gone I feel so free and productive.
      You are definitely not alone. You are not a horrible person. Could you get your mother to read Susan Cain’s Quiet? Your mother has the insights of her generation regarding introversion. Just know that there is nothing wrong with you. I hope you can create boundaries and teach your children the gifts of introversion.
      Thanks for sharing so candidly. Truly appreciate your story.

      Reply
  20. myke7777
    June 17, 2013

    You are very Caroline Ingalls-like. 😉

    Reply
    • brennagee
      June 17, 2013

      Thank you! Caroline with an edge maybe.;) I aspire to her level of patience and sweetness.

      Reply
  21. Rox
    June 17, 2013

    Oh Brenda… even though you know me as a wild woman extrovert hosting my wild woman writing retreats, chanting Hare Om to the wild moon, running wild with my LA wild child blood, etc…. I totally relate to this post! I feel so stunned sometimes by Jude’s wild energy! I love it, but I can’t always meet him there. And if he had his way, he’d stay there a looooooong time, like forever, Mama! Though I am outgoing and have to be and love to be in order to do what I do, and indeed it does energize me and god knows I loooooooooove a party, but… a few weeks ago, both David and I had the awakening panic that most parents must have at some point: “Who’s child is this?” And lordy, what are we going to do if he continues to excel in his extroversion?

    While I am doing what I can to nurture Jude’s internal life with yoga, meditation, reflection, OT, mindfulness teaching, etc, I know I have to nurture the balance— encourage/witness his external charges with the same love I encourage him on the “go inward” deal. I figure he won’t be going “Hey Mama! Look at me! Watch what I can do!” forever, and it is pretty darn cute, but boy howdy, it is exhausting.

    It’s hard not to feel guilty sometimes. I like what your reader said about just chilling on the couch and being honest with the kids. Being/respecting/loving who we are and teaching them the same thing. I have the excuse (I tell myself, not Jude, obviously) of fibromyalgia and perimenopause to assuage some of the guilty, but for the most part I realize I don’t need an excuse because all I can be is who I am and for the most part he is working around it/finding his rhythm, we are finding our rhythm together really well. It’s a whole other story over at his dad’s house, but I’ll tell you about that another time.

    Thanks Brenda, this was great. See you Tuesday. Love, Rox

    Reply
    • brennagee
      June 17, 2013

      Thank you dear friend for sharing your Mama story. The things you tell us you do with Jude are amazing and I’m always in awe of your energy and devotion. You were so smart to start early teaching him about the riches of going internal. I blew that with my kids a little. They mostly see benefits in the external. I think all of my kids process things deeply but they see outward action and material items as the most valuable.

      I have learned much from you in the ‘loving who you are’ arena. It’s a lifelong practice I know. I’m hoping to instill the value of this in my kids. I so want them to honor themselves and each other.

      Thank you for your unflinching honesty. I appreciate you sweet woman. Much love. See you Tuesday.:)

      Reply
  22. walkingrunningstumbling
    June 15, 2013

    I had three children in less than three and a half years, and the youngest child is on the autistic spectrum. I wanted to be that kind of mother who would get down on the floor with her kids and play with them for hours, but I couldn’t do it. Often I had to leave them to their own (perfectly safe and still supervised) devices while I curled up on the couch with yet another cup of herbal tea. Only now when my kids are teenagers do I understand that it was my introversion, and not my being a rotten mother, that forced me to take time out from my kids. As it happens, all my kids are introverts to varying degrees, especially my boys.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      June 15, 2013

      I know someone with your exact story – three children in under 3 years and one is on the autism spectrum. The only difference is that hers aren’t teenagers yet. My hat is off to you. You must be one strong woman.:)

      May you escape to solitude freely now. I’m sure your relationship with your children benefits from your awareness and understanding of introversion.
      Thank you for sharing your story.

      Reply
  23. Anita Neuman
    June 15, 2013

    Oh boy, does that ever resonate! I love my kids, but summer…oh summer. It terrifies me. When all the other mothers on facebook are going on and on about how excited they are that they don’t have to make school lunches anymore, I am screaming inside, “LUNCHES ARE AN EASY TRADE-OFF!!!” Okay…deep breath…we can do this…

    Reply
    • brennagee
      June 15, 2013

      It’s good to know there are kindred spirits out there with the same anxieties regarding summer parenting.;) Another thing you reminded me of that makes summer extra crazy – the addition of that extra meal you have to serve. I feel like I just clean up from breakfast and suddenly it’s time to get lunch going. The day gets broken up into so many pieces…
      Thanks for checking out my post. I had a feeling you’d get it.

      Reply
  24. Doug Toft
    June 14, 2013

    You tagged this under Jean-Paul Sartre. Even more brilliant.

    Reply
  25. Doug Toft
    June 14, 2013

    I am amazed by your honesty and guts. You are an inspiration to me.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      June 15, 2013

      My writing and spiritual hero, Brenda Ueland, always said courage is the most important virtue. I’ve spent most of my life displaying very little of it. Time for some guts.;)

      The parenting topic is the most difficult one for me to approach. I feel like it’s my dark side revealed. I have a fear of judgment and condemnation but I also want to give a voice to any other parent feeling the same way.

      Reply
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