02 MAY 2022 | PARENTING | EQ | BY JUDE FOULSTON
A note from an introverted Mom
I was puffing and panting my way up a hill this morning on our run and one of the ladies I was running with was asking SO many questions, chattering away like there was no tomorrow . It was exhausting, but I got it... she's a complete extrovert and silence is not something that makes extroverts comfortable. (And my puffing and panting weren't doing anything to fill the silence for her either)!
It did get me thinking about being an 'introverted mom'.
The best definition I've understood about how introverts and extroverts are different is that extroverts get their energy (recharge) from being around people, while introverts get their energy (recharge) by being on their own. Obviously that's quite a broad statement, and as an introvert I do of course still like to be around people, but for me, it's mostly around people that I know, and where we can skip the small talk, and, it's in smaller doses...
Don't get me wrong... I totally love and need extroverts in my life. My husband is one and some of my very best besties are extroverts. Us introverts, we need extroverts - we need you to kind of adopt us - we need you to take us under your wings and make friends for us. You see, it's not that we don't want to be involved with the carpark chatter at pick up, it's just that we really SUCK at that sort of chatter. It's not that we don't want to get involved with the social events happening at school, it can just be quite challenging for us to put our hands up knowing we have to deal with, well... new people (and small talk) to begin with. Most of the time, I speak personally here, I get over myself pretty quickly and enjoy all the interaction, but it's the initial bit that I find really tough and intimidating.
So... on behalf of all the introverted moms, this is my voice to the extroverted mums:
- Just because we're not loud and out there doesn't mean we're not super cool and as much fun - it just might take us a little longer to show you that side of us.
- When you see one of the 'quiet one's' don't assume she's stuck up or snobby. She's probably just... well, introverted! Take a moment, or two, to include her and see how she responds because you've just made that initial interaction so much easier for her.
- Please don't give up on her after that first interaction - she might need a few more 'hellos' and 'invitations' before she starts initiating her own stuff.
- Just as much as you can't handle a half a minute of silence, or being along - we can feel the same way about small talk, or constantly surrounded by people. Neither of us are doing it wrong!
- The phone....oh the phone... Whatsapp is just much better for us.. And that does not include Whatsapp calls.
- When we don't phone you, please don't take offence ...As much as you love the phone, we HATE it... Something you'll never understand, but it's a real thing... when you call us - we aren't always busy, we probably see your call coming in and ignore it because we didn't have the energy to talk (yes, even to you!). It's not personal.
- No matter how ridiculous that previous point sounds, it's real. My bestie who knows me so well by now, will often send me a message to tell me not to ignore her and she's about to phone me.. and then I pick up the phone :)
It can sometimes feel unfair to be an introvert. Extroverts are just naturally louder and more out there. They initiate engagement naturally, and they thrive off it. They even come across as more fun! Don't confuse this with believing introverts aren't fun, or loud, or dislike being with people. We make amazing, quality friends who can be loads of fun, and who are braver than you think.
Lastly - as a parent, I also think it's important to understand your kids' personalities... there are obviously so many layers to all of us, introverted and extroverted being just one. My daughter is 200% extroverted, honestly, she just lights up around people and she doesn't quite know what to do with herself when there's no one around.
(I realised how much she 'needs' to be around people one Friday night a few years ago when our kids had a campout with the dads and I was SO looking forward to having the house to myself, maybe watching a movie, or reading a book. It didn't really matter, I was just looking forward to being on my own quite honestly. You can imagine my horror (true story) when one of my besties messaged to ask what we were all going to do that evening, since we had the night off. You see, as much as I was so excited about being on my own all night, there was no hope in hell she was going to sit at home twiddling her thumbs, she just couldn't do it. Being an extroverted or introverted adult is no different from being an introverted or extroverted child)
So while my natural 'thing' is to be quite happy to stay at home and I don't 'need' people like an extrovert 'needs' people, I do have to be quite intentional with making sure my daughters' bucket is topped up often enough by being around people!
It would be the same if you were an extroverted parent with an introverted child - as an introvert who battled for a large part of my life wondering what was 'wrong' with me - why I didn't make friends that easily to begin with and never quite understood small talk. Please know... there is nothing wrong with being an introvert, and if your child doesn't need a play date every day, or to be around people as often as you do, just let her be... let her enjoy her own company, let her recharge her own battery and embrace all the beautiful goodness that comes with us introverts.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?