A is for Agape
An Introvert and Raising Children
I loved being pregnant. The heaviness in my belly. The thought of this tiny growing thing that I could nurture just by being me. All of it just made sense to me. Then the child is born and reality sets in, the kind of reality that slaps you across the face and asks you to snap out of it.
Yeah, sure, I knew that a human being was coming out of me. A small, needy, crying ball of love and wonderfulness that would take over my life. But the actual is different than the theoretical.
So, when I’m woken five times a night, spit on, cry-yelled at, and basically mentally assaulted for a year with intermittent smiles and giggles as my reward, I tend to wonder why we do it. Take the added introvert quotient and it’s a wonder reproduction keeps happening.
Yet, here we are, ten and eight years after the fact and I’m still a mom. I still adore my children and I still wonder how it happens.
As an introvert, with extra sensory issues, child rearing becomes a bit of a minefield. Sleep deprivation becomes extreme torture training, noises, touching, and the body fluids they emit unbearable. Not to mention playgrounds and playdates…yeah, that’s a whole other level of nightmare.
I’ve developed myriad coping mechanisms to help me through childrearing. The first, and most important, is that my husband has become my biggest ally. He is the buffer to all the cant’s in my repertoire. Flu season, he’s on deck. Kids need extra cuddling, dad looks lonely. Playdates, hey, what about dads’ day with the kids. He’s a trooper and my first line of defense, since day one.
But then there’s the stuff he can’t do because of, you know, work and stuff. Kids’ classes, playground days, breastfeeding, etc. Let me just say, I have the best kids in the world but each of them has a couple of my primary triggers and I’ve had to adapt to their needs. My son was a big eater and always needed to be out and about doing stuff. My daughter
Ok, so, with my son, breastfeeding became our cuddle time and then off to sleep. He’s not a big cuddler even to this day but if I feed him he knows he’s loved (mission accomplished). All of our outings were to museums or open spaces, gardens, stuff like that. We’d wander and observe and have plenty to discuss while maintaining space and quiet when needed.
My daughter was the biggest challenge. She’s most like my husband, all happy personality and people loving. She slept in our bed well past the age of one. I was dying. I tried everything to get her to detach but she loved human contact. Still does. I have to be so intentional with her, giving her hugs and kisses throughout the day. But just as I was getting to the end of my rope, begging my husband to do something because I couldn’t sleep with this little amoeba attached to me, we discovered that she loved sleeping in her brother’s room. He got a roommate at the age of three. I got my bed back.
My kids and my husband are my world but I’m an introvert that needs lots of space and time alone. This becomes problematic when you have three boisterous roommates that need your attention. We’ve found so many great ways of making it work. Like weekend hikes that end with me taking a nap. Or picnics in the park that have them bicycling off into the hills while I lay back and read a book. Family time is everything to me but I can only give as much as I have in reserve. I love that my family gets that about me. Bit by bit, I’m figuring out all the things they need from me and trying to give them what they deserve in return. This is a partnership for life and I want to make it work.