Today’s guest post on motherhood comes from Amanda Vaughn. Amanda and I met when her husband became the priest at our church. I had the privilege of watching her become a mom to two adorable twin girls. Amanda and I have a lot of things in common: we’ve both been preacher’s wives, we both love yoga, we both had two kids under 2 yrs at one time (she has me beat on this having two under one year), and we both are strong introverts. I was thoroughly was relieved I was not alone when reading her thoughts on introverted mommy-ing and hope you enjoy them as well.
Hi, I’m Amanda, and I’m an introvert. Evidently I’m bordering on being a “highly sensitive person”…whatever that means. And…I have twin threenagers (identical daughters).
I’ve always known I was an introvert. When I was younger, I was told that I was “shy”, and I was, mostly. I loved curling up with a book for hours at a time. I had a few close friends, and though I enjoyed being around lots of people, at the end of the day I needed time to be alone. I believe most of my friends would call me a private person, and I guess I am except to those I am close to and trust. My friends and I joke about “needing to climb into our i-hole” – introvert – hole: the quietest, coziest, most alone place one could ever find.
My husband and I waited a long time to have kids. We were married 11 years by the time the girls came along. We found out it was twins at our nine week ultrasound. (A little education – identical twins are completely random – not hereditary like fraternal twins can be. Some attribute it to “old eggs” that split more easily – I was 34 when they were born. Others attribute it to survival of the fittest – the universe propagating the strongest genes in multiples. I prefer the second.)
My pregnancy was perfect – no complications, no problems. Nothing about my daily life changed – same work schedule, same exercise schedule, time to read, time to watch TV, time to spend with husband, time to spend with friends.
And then the introverted mommy-ing feeling started to creep in. Random people suddenly felt like my belly was public property and they could touch and rub it whenever they pleased. And twins, well that just opened up all kinds of crazy questions that no one seemed embarrassed to ask. “Are they natural?” Umm…well, yes, of course, all babies are “natural” – but that’s not what they meant. My space and my privacy were being invaded.
My water broke at 34 weeks and 6 days, and that’s pretty much the last moment to myself I’ve had in the past three and a half years. My girls were born and went to NICU for 9 and 10 days. My husband and I went home after two days – without children. It was a surreal time – still the same schedule except there was this other thing we “had to do” – spending all this time in the hospital NICU with these little baby girls.
Friends and family wanted to meet the girls, know the details, how we were, what they could do to help. And all we wanted was time to process. When the girls came home, all we wanted was to be together in our house and figure out this new life.
I became extremely anxious all the time, undoubtedly made worse by sleep deprivation. I even ended up asking my mom and sister, whom I love dearly, to leave my house one day because even them being there was overwhelming me. It was a painful thing for them, and for me, but I didn’t know what else to do.
At some point during the first year of the girls’ lives, a friend sent me an article about how to be a mom while being an introvert. It had never occurred to me that personality type would affect parenting styles and how one survives as an introvert parent. As I read this article, my eyes were opened and life was changed. Things I’d never realized bothered me as an introvert were mentioned in the article. I realized these things bothered me even more now that I had children at home.
One major issue is noise – TWO babbling, talking, conversing children, a husband with a naturally loud voice who likes to sing a lot, add a TV or music playing…I cannot handle it. But now that I know that, I can adjust the noise level, take a deep breath or two, and move on.
Another issue is activities. I am DONE after one outing with the girls. Even if it was totally fantastic, no meltdowns, everyone had a great time. I am not one that can go out in the morning, come home for nap, and then back out for several other evening events. This has meant saying no to some things that would have been fun. This has meant saying no to some people who don’t understand why I can’t just do one more thing in a day. It is hard, but necessary for me to recharge.
Being a working mom is a huge introvert-life-giving activity for me. I love working. I love contributing, helping people, making something great. I like talking to adults. I love my girls, but my brief stents as a stay at home mom were miserable for me. Children are around 24/7, the word “mommy” is said during almost all those hours, I was constantly “on” for my girls, and I could not handle that and be sane and have any energy left for other things.
I am still learning how to co-exist as an introvert and a mommy, but I’m getting better. I’m making time and space for myself – just me – so I don’t forget who that is and what she needs. If you can’t find me, I’m probably in my i-hole.