Thursday, September 10, 2015

It's Not You; It's Me: Confessions of an Introvert...Unable to be an Introvert

As a little girl, I was shy. By shy, I mean so shy, my parents held me back from starting kindergarten because I spent a whole year in Pre-K refusing to talk to anyone or participate in any group activities.

Years and years of playing basketball sort of changed that for me. By high school, I was an active part of drama club and LOVED getting on stage to perform funny skits in front of the whole school. I enjoyed playing in front of a big crowd. I liked being around people. In fact, sometimes I needed to be around people. But I still loved to shut myself up in my room with a good book or my journal from time to time. I would have identified myself as an extrovert with occasional introvert tendencies.

Fast forward to today. I am raising and homeschooling four children in a 3 bedroom, 850 sq ft home, and I am more convinced than ever, that I am as true an introvert as they come. And I am never alone. Y'all, they never leave.

For a few years we only had 2 children. Close in age, they always napped together, and I had some much needed time for myself. When we had a third child, and Elijah and Chastity outgrew naps, they would spend a quiet time in their room, playing creatively while Isaac napped. Then number 4 arrived, rooms have been switched around, and now Isaac and Charlotte take naps in two different rooms, sometimes at different times, and Elijah and Chastity are always here. Up until about a week ago, at the very least, I would have a few uninterrupted moments to myself in the morning. After my husband would get up to get ready for work, and the kids were still sleeping, I would stay in bed, in the silence. Sometimes I would read a little. Sometimes I would pray. Sometimes, I wouldn't do anything at all, but lie there, quiet but awake. Then, this week, Charlotte, my 6 month old, decided to start waking up anytime between 6:30 and 7:30 am. She's still sleeping all night, and I'm thankful for that, but that missing 1 to 2 hours in my mornings isn't about sleep for me. I get up with her, and the one perk to getting up earlier than usual with the baby is the *almost* alone time. I can sit in silence to nurse her, and be downstairs by myself for a bit. That time rejuvenates me, and helps me mentally prepare for the day. Except that I can't. Because she wakes up early enough to be early, but late enough to make the other 3 believe they should be up too. So, by the time I get comfy in my chair with my hungry baby, 3 other heads are peaking down the stairs at me. And it angers me inside. It takes every ounce of strength I have to say "Good morning," with a half smile, rather than snarl.

It used to upset me to hear mothers complaining during the summer about their kids. Wanting them gone, away from them, and in school all day was a strange desire to me. Now, I totally get it. I am never alone, and the slightest noise that is above average volume, emitted from my children causes a tightening in my chest and a whisper screamed "SHUSH!" which hurts my throat.

My time spent with them just consists of making them food, cleaning up messes, and trying to get necessary things done amidst the hundreds of daily interruptions. It is purely quantity, not quality.

And so, in the middle of all this chaos, when someone...anyone suggests that we get together, especially with their kids and mine or as whole families, I can feel my breathing becoming strained. I make jokes folks, but the struggle is real. It actually doesn't sound fun to me. On a normal day, my interruptions have interruptions, but now you're asking me to function in a day (or several) where my interruptions have whole families of interruptions of their own. I have days, weeks even, where I intentionally avoid phone calls from some of my favorite people. Let's face it, if there is a single moment in this house where no one is talking to me, I'd like to keep it that way. We have local family (if you're reading this, know I love you!), which, including us, consists of 10 adults and 10 children. There are birthdays and holidays constantly. Every occasion for adults and kids alike are cause for celebration, and we can't even fit all these people into our home comfortably. Meanwhile, I'm over here all like, "I'll spend my birthday alone, with some yarn...and a book, thanks!" Under normal circumstances, for normal people, this is a great blessing. And I know this. And I truly love all my friends and family. But it's like taking a person who is already suffocating; having difficulty breathing, into a sauna with the expectation that it will be relaxing and rejuvenating for them. It sounds good in theory, but it only exacerbates the already existing problem.

I think (I hope) I hide this well, because, the truth is, I don't want to avoid the people I love and alienate them. Contrary to what this may lead you to believe, they are important to me! I want to want to get together, and I will continue to do my best to suck it up because I love all the people in my life. But this is my public apology to all of my friends and family who might be under the mistaken impression that I don't like them, I merely tolerate them, or I don't enjoy talking with them.

This is a season. A season in which someone is almost always yelling, screaming, or fussing at me, always talking, always asking questions...the same ones...repeatedly, always interrupting me, or always touching me, stepping on me, tripping me, pinching me, hitting me, or scratching me; a season in which my interruptions have interruptions, cooking up interruptions, stewing in a pot of interruptions and I nurse a headache daily, unable to complete a full thought; a season in which my patience wears thin and my anger stirs with every. single. noise; a season in which I want to smack someone for trying to tell me "enjoy every second, because it goes by too fast!" You don't think I know this? You don't think I hate myself for being so miserable on days when I just need to be alone? I love my kids. I even like my kids. They are pretty great. And I miss them on the rare occasion that we are apart. But while I'm in this season of zero time to myself, for myself, or by myself, and the only time away I get is to get groceries, or see a doctor for a problem that's been going on for years, I don't want to feel guilty for having zero interest in being around people. Maybe this is a disorder. Maybe this requires therapy. It certainly feels dysfunctional. But maybe, just maybe, this is normal, and some other moms out there might be able to read this, relate, feel normal for the first time in a long time, and stop hating themselves for needing space and time to themselves to feel like themselves.

This is a season. A season in which it takes days and determination to complete a blog I need to write out for my own sanity.

Please know that I love you, even if the thought of getting together with you causes me physical pain and nausea.

It's not you; it's me.

No, really.


  1. Im NOT a stay at home mom but I get you 200%. I am a mom of 4 children myself ages 10, 7, 20m, & 7 months and 2 out of 4 are shared custody but my youngest 2 don't ever see their dad (his choice). I am ALWAYS w them alone doing it all. I don't believe its I mental disorder or any kind of disorder.I believe its plain human to snap and get frustrated. And for anyone who doesn't undersrand obviously has never had to be in our situation before or plain in denial!!! Thank you for sharing this story as like I said can relate in many many ways!

  2. I hope and pray that your family will find a way to meet your need for some regular alone time on behalf of your health (mental, physical, and spiritual health).