Not too long ago, I woke up one day and decided I was going to be attentive to, and present with, my kids the whole day. I was interested in every toy they brought over to show me. I heeded every cry of concern they had over some cartoon character's possible demise. I listened to them, played their games, and did everything I could to be the best mom ever.
That night, I was absolutely exhausted.
It could be because my kids are closing in on 2 years old and 3 years old, respectively, and two toddlers would wear anyone out. And that's part of it, but not all of it.
I know some may scoff at the idea of my being so proud for interacting with my kids all day. I'm their mom. Shouldn't I do that every day? What's the big deal? Do I want a medal?
I do, but not for that reason.
The reason this day was so special and so exhausting is because I'm an introvert.
There is a misconception about introverts which implies that we are anti-social. That is totally not the case. We can be very social. I don't hide in the corner at parties, nor do I spend every waking moment wishing I could be by myself. I need people like anyone else.
At the crux of being an introvert is the desire -- the need -- to be alone in order to rejuvenate. Some people can go to a party or a busy mall or an outing with a couple friends and feel completely refreshed and revitalized. For us introverts, it is the opposite. Our downtime is sacred. We use the quiet, the stillness, the absence of interaction as a way to renew our bodies and minds. We need that time alone to become ourselves again.
So that day when I chose to be with my kids and attend to their every want and whim, when I was attentive and intuitive, that day took every ounce of energy right out of me. I had zero downtime, from the moment I woke up until they went to bed, and by the time they were snoozing I was too tired to do anything to recharge my own batteries.
It's a daily struggle for me. I want to be a good mom who is watching their every move and hearing every word because, as we've all been told, these moments pass all too quickly. I want to watch every musical act my daughter performs and applaud every puzzle piece my son puts in the right place. I want to laugh at every joke and play every game.
But I also want to take care of me. And taking care of me requires a break, which is not always possible. Some days my kids don't nap. Some days my husband has work and school and isn't available to give me a reprieve. Some days I have to slog through emotional exhaustion just to make it to bedtime, mommy guilt weighing heavily on me for eyeing the clock while desiring just a few moments of solitude after my kids go to bed.
Being a mom is the best job in the world. It is rewarding and magical at times. For us introverts, though, it is also a daily battle to find the balance in informing our kids we are always available, when sometimes our sanity wishes we weren't.
If you're a fellow introvert, you know what I'm talking about. Know that it's OK to desire alone time. Know that it's OK to be completely drained after a long day of keeping your kids alive and happy and healthy. Know that you are not alone... unless you want to be.
© 2015 Toni Hammer, as first published on Scary Mommy
You can find more from Toni Hammer at Is It Bedtime Yet, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
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