9 Things You’ll Understand if You’re an Introverted Parent
A couple of weeks ago, someone tagged me in a post on Instagram about introverted personality types (You can see it here – and, if you’re a parent, I highly recommend giving the account a follow, while you’re there…), and, as I commented later, I had never felt so seen.
The image is titled, ‘ The Challenges of Parenting as an Introvert’ , and although all of the points on the list are things I’d already known about myself, somehow seeing them all together like that made everything click into place for me.
“THIS is why I find parenting so hard!” I thought – quickly followed by, “Thank God it’s not just that I’m totally useless, then!”
Because, the truth is, that’s pretty much how I’d been feeling up until then: completely and utterly useless. And, I mean, that wasn’t totally unexpected, really. I’ve never been much of a ‘coper’. I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as “good in a crisis”, for example, and parenthood frequently feels like a bit of a crisis to me – one which I’m woefully unprepared for, at that.
But I am not alone: or not if the comments on that Instagram post are anything to go by. No, my fellow introverts, they GET it. They get ME. They get how parenthood constantly challenges the introvert personality to do things you’d never otherwise have even considered doing – and how that’s not always the good thing extroverts claim it is. Here are some other things parents who are introverts totally understand…
You literally can’t think straight because of all the talking.
I used to use the phrase, “I can’t even think straight,” as if I knew what it meant. I did not, however, know what that phrase meant: not really. Parenting a child who only stops talking when he’s asleep*, however, has totally redefined the state of not being able to think straight: in fact, some days I literally feel like I can’t think AT ALL, because of ALL THE TALKY TALKING.
It’s like it scrambles my brain, or something and I have to go and sit in a quiet room for an hour or so to clear my head, except THERE IS NO QUIET ROOM ANY MORE, LOL. (Because they will follow you. Yes they will.)
I would like my headspace back again, thank you. Even just for a little while…
(That’s not an exaggeration, by the way: Max starts telling himself stories the second he opens his eyes in the morning, and doesn’t stop talking until at least half an hour after we’ve put him to bed, when he likes to narrate the events of his day to his soft toys, Zorro-the-Dog-on-the-Wall, and, well, himself, I guess?)
You say you need to use the bathroom, but you actually mean, “I’m going to sit on the toilet and scroll through my phone for the next 10 minutes, or my head will explode.”
And they will STILL follow you…
(To be fair, I don’t really think you necessarily need to have an introverted personality for this one: I mean, we’ve all done it, right? RIGHT?)
You are genuinely worried about how you’ll cope when your child starts asking if his friends can sleep over.
Because, Other People? In my house? Where I can’t get away from them? What fresh hell is THIS? In related worries:
You have preemptively planned all of your child’s birthday parties in advance.
Before we even started trying for a baby, I made Terry solemnly promise that all large-scale birthday parties (By which I mean the kind where Max wants to invite his entire class, as opposed to just family and close friends…) will be held in soft play centres or other venues where someone else takes care of all of the entertainment.
Because, honestly, it’s hard enough coming up with activities for ONE child for a long period of time, so the thought of having to entertain and cater to 30+ children leaves me feeling so mentally drained I’m going to have to go and read a book or something as soon as I’ve finished this paragraph…
That sinking feeling when you’re out somewhere and your child goes bounding over to some complete stranger(s), hell-bent on interacting with them.
It’s probably too soon to tell, but I’m pretty sure that Max is going to turn out to be the most extroverted of extroverts, just like his dad. I think this, not just because of the non-stop talking, but also because, any time he sees another person – literally ANY other person – he’ll immediately say, “Mummy, I want to talk to them!” and off he’ll go. Which means I have to follow…
Inventing reasons why you absolutely can’t go to any mother and toddler groups is basically your superpower.
Because it turns out that just saying, “Oh, I wish I could, but I really don’t want to!” isn’t considered socially acceptable. Shame.
Being constantly out of your comfort zone.
Constantly. As in, it’s been so long since I was in my comfort zone, that I don’t even remember what it’s like there any more. I just know that it’s quiet, and there aren’t too many people in it at any given time – which is the exact opposite of life as a parent, really, with its constant demands for social interaction.
We do it, of course, for the sake of the kids, but being constantly out of your comfort zone is exhausting for people with an introverted personality, and daytime drinking frowned upon, so… I’m very tired right now. I’m just really, really tired…
So, if my toddler has a play-date with another toddler, does that mean I have to have a play-date with the other toddler’s parent? Because enforced socialising is every introvert’s dream, really, isn’t it?
The ever-present that your child will miss out unless you completely change your introverted personality.
In my case, I actually DON’T worry that Max will miss out on things, or have poor social skills, or whatever, because Terry is such an extrovert that he’s always more than happy to step up and do the socialising – in fact, to be totally honest, there are times when I’m not totally sure whether the playgroups he goes to are for Max’s benefit, or for Terry’s.
I do, however, worry about being The Weird Mum – which is why I continue to push myself out of my comfort zone as often as I can stand it, even though, as I’ve said before, I’d much rather be reading, thanks.