It’s midnight and my eleven year old son, Bryce, and I are camping out on my dad’s property. It’s not ideal camping weather. There’s a chance of a storm and the thermometer hovers around 45 degrees. The plump air mattress under our two-man tent uses up a precious four inches of floor to ceiling space. Bryce sleeps nearest the door because he will use the outdoor restroom facilities at least once during the night. We are both zipped up snugly in our heavy duty sleeping bags, cozy and confined. Like a fleece straightjacket. I turn off the flashlight after reading Steven Tyler’s biography Does the Noise in My Head Bother You to Bryce as a surprisingly charming bedtime story. I stare at the tent roof and its blackness which magnifies the pitch silence of dad’s country yard. The only noise is a creek that burbles like a witch’s cauldron.
Where are the crickets?
The noise in my own head starts to work on me. Claustrophobia begins to gnaw at my entrapped legs and arms. I feel wedged between Bryce’s body and the low end of the ceiling. I only feel blackness. I try to imagine the wide open acreage that lies on the other side of the thin nylon wall.
Kids home for the summer = worrisome
As summer approaches I have that same feeling of confinement. My three beautiful children will be home to fill every inch of our home with their energy, bodies and stuff. I know I should be looking forward to spending sunny lazy days with my darlings but I am honestly feeling the zipper on the sleeping bag rise.
What most people don’t know about introverts
I am an introvert, as is 25% – 50% of the U.S. population. Being an introvert has more to do with where I get my energy than how outgoing I am. I am fascinated by people. I am NOT a shy wallflower. I do recharge my batteries in solitude. Extroverts get energy from being with others and from hits of stimulation.
A gift of introversion is the ability to process information deeply, go internal. Intuition is strong. Art, nature and music greatly affect introverts. We endlessly reflect on significance. A down side to this intense processing and pondering is the limited amount of stimulation our brains can absorb. Too much stimulation and our minds go numb from overload. We can’t process it at the level of depth we would like.
Parenting without sacred space
Interruptions (constant phone calls, knocks on the bathroom door, projects abandoned midway) make me (and most introverts) kind of crazy. I breathe when I have hours to read, write, listen to music, go for walks, exercise, be in silence. I know myself. I am intimate with my limitations. I know the level of busy I find invigorating and the level of busy where I drown. I am fortunate to be able to stay at home during the day by myself. I am so grateful for that option.
Writing will be difficult during the summer months. I won’t have the space to read for inspiration or to write in open-ended intervals. The writing and living will be in fits and starts based on meal schedules and children’s voices. During the summer I rarely get to toggle back and forth between internal and external worlds. I am primarily grounded in external Mommy-dom. I do my best, but feel guilty about not having more energy to give to the kids. But, every year I understand myself a little better. I work to accept family demands and see the gifts of an introverted nature. I find wiggle room within my roles.
I will have help from a dear and familiar babysitter this summer. She will keep tabs on the kids two days a week while I hide out in the study taking big gulps of privacy like a drowning man takes air.
I AM excited for a new season. I love the energy that comes from being outside in the sun’s awakening rays. I love my three rambunctious child/puppies’ desire to play. I remember summer freedom and the possibility of adventure. I am game for road trips, the Slip and Slide and lemonade stands. I just need time to reflect in between.
Bryce has already asked me to take him camping this summer. I’m all for it provided we take a bigger tent.;)
I would love to hear from other parents about how you handle summer chaos. Where do you find space for yourself?
**If you know someone who is an introvert please don’t expect them to multi-task and socialize like crazy. They are not designed for that. Forcing them to extrovert will never help. Chances are they are already giving more than they are comfortable with because it is deemed way cooler to be an extrovert in western cultures. Appreciate their empathy, intuition and artistic understanding. Introverts are fantastic advisors as they spend a lot of time reflecting and observing. For more detailed information regarding introversion check out The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney. **
If this piece resonated or affected you in a meaningful way, I would truly appreciate it if you would share it with others who may benefit.
If this post hit home with you as a parent, I suggest you also read:
Touring Without Guilt (space2live)
In Defense of Introverted Parents (space2live)
When Parenting Overwhelms (space2live)
There’s Nothing Wrong with You. You’re an Introvert. (space2live)
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