Feb 3, 2011  •  In Baby, Claire, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal, Relationships

Motherhood for the Introvert

Just in case you weren’t aware, today marks an important holiday for the Asian community: lunar new year. This year is the year of the rabbit, and while I hardly pay attention to astrology (western or eastern), I can’t help but share this awesomely cute picture with you:

(image source)

Because today is such an important day in the Chinese culture, J took the day off from work. And he gave me the best new year’s day present —

He took the baby out with him to dim sum and left me all by myself.

For three, GLORIOUS hours.

(Well, the dog was home too but let’s just pretend he wasn’t there for the sake of the story.)

You guys, I can’t tell you how happy this made me. How refreshed and recharged I felt afterwards. How — and this will irk some of my readers, I’m sure — it made me miss the days before the baby.

Look, I love Claire. I really do! I would lay down my life for her and I would do anything for her happiness.

But motherhood is tough. And only recently have I come to realize that it is especially difficult for introverts like myself.

Contrary to common belief, being an introvert does not equate being shy. You can be an introvert and be outgoing, just as there exist shy extroverts. The true definition of an introvert is someone who derives his/her energy from within. An extrovert, on the other hand, derives energy from other people.

J is an extrovert through and through. He gets cranky and depressed when he is alone for long periods of time. And only after he has been around others that he is “recharged” and becomes himself again.

I have always been an introvert. My parents tell me that even as a child, I much preferred to be alone, reading in a corner somewhere rather than play with the other kids. And while I had my extremely social, outgoing days in my early twenties, I have found that I am becoming more and more introverted as I grow older.

This causes a huge problem for me, because being a mother is a 24-hour job which requires me to be with someone else at all times.

I know that taking care of a baby does not require much interaction. But you can’t deny that a baby is still a human being — another person an introvert like myself can find extremely draining.

And while I have been very blessed to have others help take care of the baby while I was out running errands, or even the couple of times when J and I have been out on dates, today was the very first time since the baby was born that I was able to be home — a place of peace and rest and comfort — all by myself.

Right before J left with the baby, he said to me, “Don’t call me in 10 minutes crying about how much you miss her!” to which I replied, “I would only call to tell you guys to take your time!”

I was only joking with him, but the complete and honest truth was that I didn’t miss them. And I feel like a horrible wife and mother for feeling this way, but it’s the truth. I really, really needed those three hours to be home by myself and I am so thankful that J was able to give it to me.

And you know what? I feel like I was able to be a better, more energized and happier mother after taking some time alone.

J immediately noticed the change in attitude and energy and suggested that he start doing this more often. It was his very first time taking the baby out by himself and while she wasn’t a complete angel, I could tell how proud of himself he was when he described how he was able to calm her down from a bout of crying.

And I’m sure they had fun. Because you can’t be taking pictures like this when you’re not having fun.

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11 Responses to “Motherhood for the Introvert”

  1. Mina says:

    i think it’s wonderful that you know yourself so well, and that you and J and perhaps found a great way for you to relax and recharge. sounds like it was a wonderful experience for you both!

  2. I know EXACTLY what you mean. I love spending time with people, I love to be the center of attention, but at the end of the day, I just want to hang out by myself and relax. I’ve been in a long distance marriage for 20 months now, and a lot of aspects are really miserable. But, truth be told? I love having “me” time. After working a 15 hour day, I LOVE not having to interact with a single person, worry about what I am going to make my husband for dinner, etc. I don’t have to listen to him with the TV on — I can just sit and enjoy the silence. Of course, that said, I would rather be living with him, just like you’d rather have Claire in your life, but I sure will miss it whenever we are able to live in the same location again…

  3. Lisa says:

    From a fellow introvert, this article made me realize there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way we feel. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/2696/ It makes perfect sense to me that you would be able to better give of yourself after a recharge!

  4. So glad you were able to get some you time!

  5. Fiona says:

    I have always appreciated your honest blogging about pregnancy and motherhood and especially appreciate this post. While I’m far from being a mom, I’m an introvert and the reality of being home with a baby all the time (which is what I plan to do) is daunting. You seem like you’re doing a great balance job so far! Remember what your mom said (which really struck a chord with me) and take care of yourself first.

  6. Annie says:

    I hope that one day Wilbs and I are able to babysit for you guys 🙂 Have her over at our place so that you can have some recharging time. 🙂

  7. Savanna says:

    My mother told me that when I was born (I’m the oldest), she realized that she was a much better mom when she was a full-time working mom. She said she just felt like she did a better job a being a mother when she had been out of the house all day, working, doing something she enjoys and then came home in the evening. My mom always worked full-time throughout my childhood and although my sister and I spent time before and after school in a latch-key program, I don’t think it ‘hurt’ us one bit- I look to my parents as shining examples of the kind of parent I want to be. I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with needing time for yourself to do whatever it is you need or want to do if that’s what is going to make you a better mom in the grand scheme of things!

  8. Mary says:

    Please do have J continue taking the kid out by himself! Even though L isn’t that bad of a infant…oh I relish the weekends when the husband goes out by himself or with friends and I say …DON’T FORGET TO TAKE THE KID WITH YOU! I love those hours of doing NA-DA! No whiny kid, no lazy husband. Just me, the computer and a good book!

  9. Erin says:

    I found your blog via Jenna and a search for bacne. My first, and nearly only, pregnancy symptoms thus far has been a hideous back. Did you ever find anything that helped?
    I really liked this post – and all of your posts where you are so honest about motherhood. Is there a possibility that you could send your daughter to day-care 3 days a week (for 3 hours at a time) – or she could go to your in laws for a few hours instead of them coming to you? Not sure if you are on maternity leave (haven’t read that far yet) but this is one of the reasons I’m glad that I will be a working mom – I think I will enjoy my children more when they are a treat instead of a 24-hour obligation.

    • Hi Erin,

      Thanks for your comment. To answer your questions…

      I never did find a cure for the bacne, even having tried numerous body washes (Neutrogena, Proactiv, etc), scrubs, and even getting a special washcloth. The bacne continued even after I gave birth and did not get better until I stopped breastfeeding. It was pretty funny, because as soon as I stopped breastfeeding my shoulders and back got better within a week. So for me, it really was the hormones and there wasn’t much I could do about it.

      As for your other questions, I am a SAHM. We strongly prefer not to add daycare to our expenses because it’s so expensive in our area (and I would feel guilty putting her in daycare when I was the one who made the decison to be a full-time mom and stopped working). As for my in-laws, they were visiting from Hong Kong and have since returned so they are not an option.

      Being a mother is exhausting, especially for an introvert like me, but I’m not complaining. It may seem like I am, but I’m not — I’m just telling it like it is and being honest. We are comfortable with our current living situation and while I may return to work part-time in the future, my daughter is my job and livelihood at the moment, and I prefer it that way. Besides, if we ever need babysitters, we always have my mother who lives 45 mins away (and will actually be taking the baby this Sunday so that J and I can have the day to ourselves).

  10. HeavyHolly says:

    Wow, this is such a great post (and such a great blog – I’m just being going through your archives). I’m a big introvert and had found the eager visitors part of having a new baby really taxing, but I hadn’t quite realized that my baby could also play into that. I think it’s so important for introverts to get time alone and it’s nothing we should apologize for! Thanks so much for sharing.

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