I often think my kids are missing out because I’m not an extrovert. As an extroverted introvert, meaning I love talking to people but also need quiet time by myself, I find the noise of my kids and the constant need for interaction really wears me down. I doubted that extroverted moms would be secretly craving silence or saying, “Shush, quiet voices please,” on a daily basis.
If only I was an extroverted mom I’d love that my kids never stop talking. I’d love the noise of screens, kids playing and games. The same Just Dance song on repeat wouldn’t get under my skin as I jived away with my mini hip-hoppers. I’d love hanging out at indoor play centers with their crazy colors and high volume kid noise echoing off the walls.
If I was extroverted I’d be excited to go to school mom hangouts and form quick connections with large groups of women. I’d get excited about big school events like fairs and discos. If only I was extroverted, how lucky my kids would be.
And then I took a poll from extroverted mothers. Some of my beliefs were confirmed.
Yes, extroverted moms love interacting with their kids and don’t feel the need for solitude. They do get energy from their kids instead of being left feeling drained. No, when their kids were sleeping was not their favourite part of the day.
Yes, they love meeting new people and attending group functions. Noisy play centres were fun and don’t seem to leave them wishing they could curl up in a ball with a pair of noise reduction headphones on or cause them to sign up for the next available silent meditation retreat.
And that’s where our differences ended.
Extroverted moms stated the thing that grated them most about being with their kids was whining, whingeing and tantrums.
Not all noise was good noise for extroverted moms. Extroverted mothers seemed to really struggle with the difficult emotions of their kids. Excited, fun-seeking whirlwinds were good, melting down minions, not so much.
Extroverted mothers said that just like me, feeling lonely during the first 12 months of their children’s lives made them struggle with their emotional wellbeing.
Extroverted mothers said they still preferred the company of adults. Extroverted mothers said they missed going out all the time. Sure, they were still keen to go out way more than would suit me, but on the need to spend time with adults, we are agreed.
Extroverted mothers said that sleep deprivation had dampened their outgoing nature significantly and during those periods they needed more quiet time.
Extroverted mothers had to learn to spend more time at home because they knew that’s what their kids needed even though it drained them of stimulation.
Just like me, extroverted mothers also hated the constant housework and the unrelenting mess and chaos.
I realized I’d been playing just another version of who’s got it better? It seems that extroverted moms shared many of the struggles of parenting that more introverted parents experience. If extroversion didn’t smooth over all of the parenting challenges, maybe there were benefits to introversion that I was missing.
I got to thinking about the qualities of introversion that my kids might like about me. In a culture that highly values extroversion, sometimes introverts don’t notice their strengths.
Perhaps my still presence was soothing. Maybe they liked and benefited from periods of quietness, too. As a parent who is higher on the introversion scale, I can certainly relate to meltdowns from overstimulation. I might not love dealing with the meltdown at the moment it occurs, but I get it.
My poll taught me that all moms’ experiences challenge whether they are introverted, extroverted or somewhere in between. Equally, there’s no need to feel I should be different from how I am or that my kids would do better if I was an extrovert. So shush kids, let me read this book, you’re making my head hurt.