introverted extrovert

Ever since I was in high school and I learned about “extroverts” and “introverts” there was not a question in my mind that I am an extrovert.

Not only am I pretty out-going, but I thrive on being the center of attention.  Anyone who has known me for any part of my life will attest to this.  I talk a lot, and I talk loudly.  I am not afraid to jump in and throw in my two…even three cents.  In fact, it’s been said I might not know when to shut up sometimes.  And awkward silences and pauses in the conversation?  Hate ’em.

does this look like an introvert to you?

Yup, I lived my life assuming I was a complete extrovert.

And then I had kids.

More specifically, then I had Eddie and ended up with postpartum depression and anxiety and wanted to crawl out of my skin and smack all the people in my life who ever asked me a question or needed me when I had nothing left to give.

::takes breath::

I mostly got all that mess under control.  Just in time to have another baby.

Up until recently I have been telling you that I have been doing great.  And I have!  It’s not a lie!

But.

(yup, there’s always a but…)

But there has been some…skin crawling lately.

Today I sat in the familiar chair in Dr. M’s office (my therapist) and took a huge, cleansing breath.

I did not have anyone that needed me in that instant.  And I told her that.

So we started talking and I admitted that my week was not off to a good start.  My skin was crawling and I couldn’t wait to drop the boys off at the sitter to just GET AWAY.

And at the same time I missed their sweetness fiercely.

But I did not miss the nagging and the whining and the hanging and the crying and the fussing and the disobedience and the messes.

I had even crabbed at Cort for not remembering appointments and things on the calendar and asking me the same question 45 times.  Ok, more like 3 times, but when you are strung out on caring for 2 small kids, it SEEMS like 45 times.

I watched Eddie throw a tantrum of epic proportions this weekend and all I could think was, “THAT IS WHAT I WANT TO DO!”  That yelling, crying, throwing things, incoherent anger ball of a three-year-old?  That was me on the inside. I so badly wanted to throw that tantrum right back at him.

But I am not three.  I am thirty-four.  I can’t throw a tantrum.  Or I shouldn’t.  So I didn’t, but that meant all that tantrum was still banging around inside me.  It meant there was still screaming going on in my head.

As Dr. M says, that is not a good place to be in.

I need to recharge.  Figure out what makes me come back to a level where I have something left to give.

This is when I realized that I am indeed and introvert.

The way I recharge? Is to get away from all the people.

Before kids, this was built into my life.  When I got home from work?  Cort wasn’t home yet.  I had the summers with no one home.  I could bury my nose in a book and block out the world quite easily because no one depended on me for survival…or for a new diaper.

It never occurred to me that being away from people was what made me so good around people.

Last Tuesday I managed to get both boys to nap at the same time for about 30 minutes.  It was all I needed to sit by myself with a book on the back deck for a few minutes.

I was good for the next few days.  I was in good spirits and could handle the mood swings of my older son.

But this weekend was busy.  Oh it was fun, but there was not one minute where no one depended on me…where I wasn’t “on”.  This drained my levels to the point where I wasn’t starting my week “fresh” today.

And so my crawling skin as I sat in Dr. M’s office.

I am not a bad mom; I am a GREAT mom.  I just require time away from all the action to regroup.

I require time in my head away from reality.

My homework as I left Dr. M today was to figure out ways to get small amounts of time (like the 30 minutes on the deck) to fill up my “giving tank”.  I also need to learn to reach out and ask for days “off”.

Not because being a mom is too hard or I have things to do, but because I need time to just be me: an adult who needs some time to herself to do everything or nothing.  To clean the whole house or sit in my jammies all day.

My name is Katie.  And I am an introverted extrovert.

I’ll rock your face, but then I need some time alone with my book.

*************

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. I could have written some of these things. I have been having very little “me” time, and it’s building up a little. One day? I hope to rock your face in person. And then I will let you go read a book 🙂

  2. I wish I could head over there, play with your cute boys (heck I’ll even change diapers) and give you those daily 30 minutes you need!

    I’m a total introvert. Between 8-9pm when the kids are in bed (and the baby stays asleep), it’s my time. To do whatever I want. Even if it’s folding laundry. I tell the husband, I’ll talk to you at 9 o’clock because my god, the past 12-13 hours I’ve had to deal with small human beings and house chores. I just need to breathe. So yes, I take my time back.

    • I have to come up with a better schedule. I feel like I over-commit here online and have so much to DO after the boys go to bed before I can actually go to bed. It’s sort of ridiculous.

  3. I was only home with John for three months when he was born. That was enough for me. I go to work to breathe. At the same time, Cort does not want to deal with the babies as soon as he walks through the door.
    Fred and I would/and still do give each other breaks by taking the kids out of the house. I can’t stop being a parent if I hear the kids around me. And only then can I breathe at home.
    I will let you know that my youngest kids are now 7 and sometimes they all go out on their own and I get bored. Sometimes.
    m.

    • I was only home with Eddie for 3 months when he was born…I couldn’t WAIT to go back to work. This summer is harder because I was home with Charlie for 3 and now another 3 for “summer break”. I am very ready to go back to work.

      At the same time, I know I am blessed with this time with the boys, so I try to make the best of it and create memories.

      And honestly, the days both are gone (which has only been twice this summer and just for the afternoon), I have found myself excited to go get them and see what they have been up to all day.

      parenting is weird.

  4. I stay home with my kids, but I also work from home when the kids are napping or before they get up in the morning. That leaves very little time for ME to do what I want – work out, blog (it been ages), veg out, read. And I miss all of it.

    After awhile, when me minutes have been few and far between, I start to feel the same way you do. I joked with my husband a few months ago that the best gift he could give me for Mother’s Day would be a night, at a hotel, alone. He thought I was kidding. And I was. Sort of. It seems a bit sad, but also a bit awesome.

    When you are home all day with your kids, you need time away. It would be the same if you did your other job for 12-13 hours/day with no breaks. I don’t think needing a break from the demands of a HARD job is a bad thing. Take advantage of those 30 minutes when you can, even if it is just to enjoy the silence.

  5. Oh I hear that loud and clear. Now that I am working full time finding it is even harder, because when I come in everyone wants something from me. I am like aaaaaaaaaaaacccckkk.. Space I need space and a hot bath.

    • Tell me about it. During the school year I am needed all day long by needy teens and then I come home to needy kids. I need to learn to carve out PLANNED time ALONE each week (day?).

  6. Me time is in very short supply. People call me, email me, stop by, hand things off, request things of me all day at work…then I sit in traffic for a very long time and it’s the same at home. I have these little tiny three hours to smash in all the play time, cuddle time, dinner time, bath time…

    So I try to exercise, by myself for about 30 minutes twice a week. The other days I use the jogging stroller. But I still need those couple of times to recharge.

    Also, a random girl weekend with friends every once in awhile sets me straight. Luckily I have a husband who is awesome like that.

    • I SO want to start going to yoga again. It’s such a GREAT alone time. That and leaving the inside of my house to read a book…BY MYSELF.

      Girl weekends are ok for me, but to really recharge I need to be completely alone.

  7. Time alone to recharge is so important! I’m lucky (most of the time!) that my MIL lives near us and will come over to give me a break, even if it’s just locking my bedroom door and hiding under the covers for an hour…

  8. I’m sure sure that you are an introvert *ahem* so much as you are at a place in your life where it is very difficult to find balance. KT: I have finally allowed myself to say I hated the baby years. I know you do not feel this, but I did. I hate having someone be so dependent on me. I hated having to carry someone and a diaper bag and a bucket. I wished we had a zillion dollars so I could have a nanny or someone to do all the stupid dishes that were forever filling the sink. Oh, and if she could also do the laundry. And the grocery shopping because I just could never get a moment to myself. Ever.

    I think, as teachers, we have a very high tolerance for taking on a lot of responsibility. We are not always the best at delegating because – after all, we are the stars of our own show. We are used to juggling a lesson plans and parents and papers and some kind of life. You are a GREAT mom, and I don’t think that reaching the point of maximum supersaturation means that you are actually an introvert. It just means you need to pay attention to yourself. It means the balance has shifted in a not so good way. It means you have forgotten about your place in the equation. So..um… yeah. Go to a public pool with a big floppy hat and read. Or go shopping for some new clothes for back to school. Or lie in bed and watch that movie you have been dying to see. But have Cort take the kids out of the house.

    There is no shame in needing alone time. Why do you think the golf courses are filled with men? and trust me, they don’t feel guilty one bit and they aren’t melting down. Because that’s how they fill up. I’m so glad you caught these early warning signs of implosion. Now, when are you going to get your alone time?

    • well the definition of introvert is getting energy from being alone, and that is what I need. Being around people drains me, not energizes me (as an extrovert would be). Weekends with “the girls” makes me more drained in end, for example, instead of re-energizing me for my family. To really “fill up” I would LOVE a weekend ALL ALONE either at home or in a hotel room.

      Getting my time alone? Well, that is more difficult. But hopefully this weekend with my family up north will give me a few hours all alone in a chair somewhere with a book 🙂

  9. Confession time – I’ve followed you for quite a while, but have never ever commented. But. Sometimes you just have to comment. I could have written this post. Word for word (except probably not as eloquently as you put it).

    I’ve been there – in that moment when I’m grouchy, losing my patience, losing my cool & knowing that all I really need is a half hour or so to recharge by myself. That half hour though is SO elusive, and it never seems to happen. My major downfall is trying to create time for myself in the middle of a hectic (normal) day, when I’m on parenting duty by myself. I make a cup of coffee, turn on mickey mouse and sit down to try to recharge for 20 minutes with a book. When it doesn’t work though, I’m even more grouchy, losing my mind because I’m frustrated that my coffee is cold and I failed at creating time for myself.

    I know that I need to be better at asking for help, at taking the time for myself when it is offered. Sending peaceful afternoon vibes your way.

    • Hi Alissa! I am SO glad you commented! YES! I get SO. MUCH. WORSE. when I try and FAIL at getting it. I usually cry. No joke. I usually sit down and just cry.

      I wish some alone time to you, my friend.

  10. This is EXACTLY why I can’t be a SAHM (OR a teacher). I have such an amazing respect for people who can/are. I need to be around adults. And then not. I am that much more grateful/excited when I spend time with my munchkins. I can be “on” — fun, patient, and engaged. Even on family vacations, sometimes I take the extra long shower or go on a run just to re-energize ALONE. A friend once told me that he first thought I was an extrovert, then realized that he’d describe me more as “social.” I was the kid who didn’t hear my mom calling me to dinner because I was so engrossed in my own world (i.e. deep in a book). I KNOW that I need that time or I become a cranky bitch.

    • I could never be at full time SAHM. I’m just not good at it…nor is it good for ME. I am absolutely itching to get back to work. Did I just say that? Yeah, I did.

  11. I laugh whenever I hear the phrase “introverted extrovert” but mostly because I am one! And probably because I’d like to think I invented the label sometime post college when I was knee deep in a quarter life crisis 😉

    In fact, I just searched my blog for these terms because I swear I wrote a post about it but I think I may have just gone on a long tangent about it in another post and then deleted it all during editing. Whatevs.

    In any case, I totally feel you. People think I want to be social 100% of the time but I re-charge by being alone. Right now I have only 1 child with 1 on the way and I’ve got to admit that I’m a little terrified of having the second one because right now I have a decent amount of alone time throughout the day and evening that I know will be sucked up by newborn antics….ugh.

    Striking the right balance is tough, but I keep working on it and will pray that you find it too 🙂

    Also random, I’m in SE MI…are you on the west side of the state?

    • the first month? when it’s just you and the new baby? it’s sort of delightful because it’s been so long since you’ve been alone with just a sleepy cuddly baby, so it’s just as good as me time. For a month. Then? Find ALONE TIME! 🙂

      Yup, west side! Holland.

  12. Yeppers–not only as a SAHM, but a homeschooling mom, I am so with you. I have my kids needing me all the live long day and rarely get a break. It’s tough. When you figure out how to work “me” time into your schedule, please share! I’ve been failing at this for the past 6 years! 🙂

    • right now I am getting it 30 minute chunks here and there. If I get something more extended and fulfilling? I will for SURE let you know!

  13. My son is in an extreme mommy phase right now and even though I work outside the home, there are some nights and weekends that I just need 15 minutes to myself with no one needing me or hanging on to me. I think I need to find an activity outside the house so I can recharge.

    • I so badly want to start going to yoga. I always loved it because it’s with other people, but it’s such an individual thing. It’s the best of both worlds!

  14. This is me too. I need that downtime to recharge. I’ve been struggling so much with it these past few weeks as we adjust to life with a newborn in addition to the other kids. Can you get some time to yourself after Cort is home? Or the mornings before the kids get up?

  15. Oh we all get this way.
    Lord have mercy on our nerves and grant us the will to go to the liquor store and buy all the things that will drown out the noises in the backgound
    I’m home all day. All 24 hours of it.
    Sigh.

    • Wait…I didn’t mean to sound like an asshole and make you feel like your feelings weren’t validated or lessened. I love you and I just wanted to let you know that I go through this too.
      I really hope that you find the balance friend
      xo

  16. This is how I am as well. I neeeeed me time. So much that I refuse (for the most part) to do any house cleaning during nap times. It’s me time. I deserve it. I need it. I frankly don’t care if my house is a mess. I get a few moments to do what I WANT. ALONE.

  17. Yes, yes, hell’s yes!!! I have 3 boys whom I dearly love, but oh my goodness, mommy needs a break in the day. I am super blessed to have my in-law’s live super close (by design) and my MIL takes the boys for a few hours each week, Praise the Lord, but the days that are super crazy busy and grandma isn’t around to watch the boys (like today) I can get to be a little bit of a cranky pants, so know that you aren’t alone in needing some good ol’ alone time. I also love that you are an avid reader so I’m going to have to check out your book list 🙂 Also, loving your instagrams on your #shereadstruth, it’s inspiring me to find time every day to read the Word, because I also know I’m a better mommy when I start my day with God first.

  18. Ok – this resonates so very strongly with me. First, because I need to find a new therapist. More pertinent to the post, though, the only time I was really “at peace” on vacation was when I was on the beach at sunrise, without a single soul within miles of me.

    And that scared the hell out of me.

    I can’t be in a crowd and not tell my stories and be part of the party. I can’t be among friends and not smile and laugh. But, well, I like some time to myself.