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The Secret Life of an Introvert Mom

This past weekend I took a trip solo to BlogHer in San Jose, California. Since January, I’ve been so excited for this trip! Not only would it allow me to introduce businesses to Dallas Moms Blog and bring back amazing products for moms, but it was a chance for me to be around other adults and feel refreshed.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve had any real time to myself. The last time I left my family was to BlogHer in Chicago where I roomed with two City Moms Blog Network friends. My son was barely 7 months old and I was weaning him from nursing, so while I was without kids on that trip, they were frequently on my mind each time I had to run back to the room to pump.

The last year has been rough; from a difficult newborn to a toddler who’s showing how “amazing” a threenager can be. It was time for a break from being Mommy and my business trip was that chance!

It was only 24 hours after arriving in San Jose that reality began to sink in. I was alone at a conference … with over 2,000 women. I had scheduled several smaller meetings, so that it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming, but with each small encounter my confidence began to dwindle further and further down.

You'll typically see an introvert at least 3 feet away from a group at any given time.

You’ll typically see an introvert at least 3 feet away from a group at any given time.

You see…I’m an introvert. 

While on the outside, I try to reflect the confidence of a strong small business owner with an engaging personality. But the truth is–I prefer to be alone.

It’s not that  don’t like people. I’d actually give anything to have a close group of girlfriends! But when it comes to meeting new people or being the driving force in a conversation, I fail miserably. I don’t have an over-the-top personality. I stumble over my words. It takes serious effort for me to come up with engaging questions, and when you put me into a room of “pretty people” my self-esteem takes a nose-dive. I never feel good enough and it’s so much easier to just not try. It’s at home in my t-shirt and jeans with  my two, sticky boys that I feel most comfortable.

So what I thought in my head would be a weekend of meeting new people and a relaxing getaway turned into a large reminder that no matter where I am (Dallas or San Jose), my struggles are still there. Which turned into a big realization why motherhood always feels so lonely for me.

One of the biggest ways women survive motherhood is by being with other moms. Other women to be their adult conversation, be a sounding board for struggles, and feel like they have value other than just being a caregiver.

But when you’re an introvert, you follow your natural instinct to revert back to your comfort space. Rather than leaving your family on a Thursday night to go meet new women in your neighborhood, you stay in the safety of your home where you know you’re loved. You don’t have “try” to be one of the pretty people. What you wear won’t be judged (even if it’s not, you feel like it is!). You won’t accidentally say something that put your foot in your mouth. Your family–your kids–they help you feel confident in who you are, and putting yourself out there to be yourself around people you don’t know …well, it’s darn right scary!

But as I’m slowly coming to learn, it’s not healthy.

Our goal as parents is to send our children out into the world to become productive members of society. They won’t live with us forever.  Everyone tells me time flies by like a snap of a finger,  and so we need to start planning now for a life without children.

It’s important that we learn to build relationships away from our husband and children. It’s important to have other female companions to talk to; whether it’s to develop those long-term friendships or just practice for returning to the work force.  If introverts always play it safe by focusing solely on the family, when the time comes to return to society, you’ll have 18 years of routines and habits to fight and you might find yourself feeling more alone than ever before.

Introverts UniteAs I fought the introvert urge to curl up in my hotel room and work on my computer, feeling internally full by editing the amazing content for Dallas Moms Blog readers, I remembered that situations like this are important opportunities for practice. This is a great place to break through my barriers and practice meeting new people, coming up with conversation with women who don’t know me, and occasionally force myself to talk about myself (gulp!) That way when I come home and get my next Evite to our neighborhood Mom’s Night Out, I’ll feel that much more confident when I try to build those connections that actually mean something for my future.

So the next time you’re at an event and you see a mom sitting alone at the end of the table (possibly giving the impression that she’s “too cool for school”), it’s probably because she’s one of us introverts, struggling to feel like she belongs. Give her a little nudge by introducing yourself and helping guide the conversation — I promise once you help introverts break through those fears, these are the women who will end up being your biggest cheerleaders and true longtime friends.

 

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4 Responses to The Secret Life of an Introvert Mom

  1. Emily S August 1, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    BEAUTIFULLY put, Krystal! Thanks for this!

  2. DClark August 4, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    Interesting post, but I couldn’t disagree with you more. There is nothing “unhealthy” about being an introvert.

    People, moms included, have their own comfort levels and preferred activities. So while an introverted mom may choose to participate in a play group or adult outing, that doesn’t mean she feels obligated to engage in small talk with every group of people. She may just enjoy listening to their conversation, the change of scenery in getting out of the house, or the opportunity for her children to socialize and play with other children.

    Being an introverted mom isn’t unhealthy; it’s a normal personality characteristic of many women. Even as a self-proclaimed introvert, you are stigmatizing other women by assuming that introverts are really desperate for companionship and that an extroverted mom is doing them a favor by engaging them in conversation.

    An introverted person is not recharged by being with others like an extrovert is. An introverted person is actually drained by using the skills required to actively engage in interactions with others. You’re not doing us a favor; you’re adding to our workload.

    The best advice for an extroverted mom is to let the introverted mom choose to participate as much or as little as she wants to.

  3. Amanda Tuck October 23, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    I dont necessarily agree with everything here or at least who is affected. I dont believe there is anything wrong with being an introvert though its true that before I moved back to Dallas I had a very tight knit group of girlfriends for many years who I was so comfortable with and so supported by that they rarely left me with the drained feeling other ppl often do and I WAS happier and more satisfied with my life overall. There are clearly diffferent types of introverts, I may feel easily drained and struggle with conversation starters with strangers but I have rarely felt insecure as an adult. I simply find I am my happiest in solitary activities, reading, movie watching, painting, learning, dreaming, etc. It drives my extremely extroverted husband nuts but its just who I am and what gives me my unique perspective and personality.

    But for my kids this is not healthy. Part of being a mom, especially a stay at home mom like myself, is our relationships with other moms which give our kids relationships with other kids and the skills and relationships they’ll someday need in school and as adults. Being introverted I tend to cancel on parties and playdates, put off fun activities, trips to the park, library, etc unless my husband pushes me and often has to come along. My kids are not introverts but they aren’t learning the necessary socialization skills they need or making the friends they so badly desire. Its obvious when I do take them places, they are louder and needier than the other kids, they are simply more earnest than the others because they dont have enough experience in regulating their responses or putting on a mask of any kind. They dont how to play it cool or back off which no one has to do at home with their parents. This may sound like a good thing and maybe it will be in some ways eventually but it also puts them at a disadvantage.

    I do wish more social moms would occasionally push me or invite me even after I have declined in the past though thats not their responsibility, sometimes I need multiple invites to begin to feel comfortable. And I wish I could push myself to put my kids first in this the way I thought I would before I had children instead of always saying, maybe next week. Well maybe tomorrow.

  4. Marilyn Booth-Preston June 13, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

    I’m married to an introvert and believe me it’s work. He requires me to make plans with others to get out and socialize. Problem is he sits and listens to everyone else and rarely speaks out. I have two children. One introvert and one extrovert. I’m both depending on my mood.
    I personally don’t think your stigmatizing anyone. It’s a fact. You had some really good advice and I hope to remember it next time I’m in a group.
    Thanks for sharing something so personal it had to be outside your comfort zone.

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