When my first child was born, I joined a local moms’ support group. One of the big things everyone kept going on and on about was Moms’ Night Out and its importance for keeping mom sane, having fun, enjoying your time, saving the planet, and promoting world peace.
Okay, maybe not those last two. But . . . they certainly made a huge deal about it.
So, when Agent E was three month old, I gave it a try. I came home (early) to a hysterical baby who wouldn’t take a bottle and simply missed her mommy. This was early in my mothering and a lot of my parenting philosophy hadn’t really come together for me yet. (More on that here.) I tried again two more times (over the course of the next couple of years). While the second attempt turned out okay (in that toddler E did fine with Dad and Momma didn’t have a panic attack), I ended up coming home early from the third attempt to nurse baby Agent J.
To sum: I did not have fun, I missed my baby as if a part of my own body were cut off, and I spent the entire evening uneasy.
Still, I listened to the voices that insisted I had to leave my baby, I had to teach her to get along without me, I had to do this for myself. This was great for moms and I needed it! Right? Why didn’t this work for me? Why wasn’t I looking forward to this? What was wrong with me?
Turns out, nothing. It’s just not how I’m wired.
Not until I participated in a Bible study some time later did it finally hit me. A chapter in the book we used described introverts and extroverts in a way I had never heard. I always assumed that being an introvert meant you didn’t like to be with people, and being an extrovert meant you did. It made perfect sense that I wasn’t that into MNO as an introvert, but there was more to it. I don’t dislike being with people. I enjoy family gatherings, small group discussions, meeting other moms at the park, and joining friends for coffee. However, that’s not how I energize myself when I’m feeling low.
Being an introvert vs. an extrovert is more about how you refuel when you need to recharge your batteries. An a-ha moment for sure. Somehow I had managed to find myself in a group of extroverts who thrived on being able to go out once a month (or more) and let loose, have a few glasses of wine, and be part of a big group in a festive atmosphere.
I, however, much prefer to go out during the day. I am not a night person. I absolutely hate leaving my babies at night. (Even my oldest “baby” who is now almost six.) I don’t feel recharged; I feel on edge and restless. I need “mom” time, just like every mom does, but in a different way.
What do I do instead? I do the things that help me (not the mom next door, or my best friend, or well-meaning relatives) to refocus and enjoy parenting with a clear, relaxed mind. I get up early to have some quiet time for reading, writing, and thinking. I employ the use of a sitter a few hours a week (early in the day) when Hubby is out to sea for extended periods. When I meet with friends it’s during the day, not at night, not at bedtime. I arrange mom/kid play dates with one or two other families at a time, and avoid big, organized “mom and tot” events.
And that is what works for this introverted Momma.
How about you? What energizes you?
This was originally posted by Valerie on Connected Mom. Valerie is a Navy wife and Momma to three young children. She writes about her parenting and homeschooling adventures at Momma in Progress.