I married an extrovert. Not just an extrovert, but one to the Nth degree. Then I gave birth to four extroverts. I am outnumbered. Even my golden retriever is an extrovert. So, what is an introvert to do in a household full of people who derive their energy from being around others (including me)? You run and hide. I’m sort of kidding. Clearly, I was attracted to my husband’s boisterous personality and joie de vivre. He is the polar opposite of me, and he often challenges me to get out of my comfort zone and to do things I might not ordinarily do.
When we were just married, there was plenty of time for me to be alone. I could get up early in the morning and read. I could go for a run just because I wanted to. And then the children came. At one merciless point, there were three children under the age of three who love to be in the mix, love the limelight, and love to talk. A lot. All at once. Luckily, the three older ones are getting into elementary school, complete with activities, friends, and general busy-ness. But that means me taking them to events, having to make small talk with other parents, and generally feeling like the odd one out. As introverts, we need time alone to recharge our batteries. For parents, time is a commodity, a precious one at that. I feel as though I am constantly on the hunt for hours to call my own.
What has helped me as an introvert parent is being able to set and stick to boundaries—essential for mental well-being. I write in the early mornings and have told the older children that if they get up early and see the office door closed, they should wait until I come out (unless it’s an emergency).
Being firm about those boundaries can be hard. I think introverts innately want to please people. However, bending those boundaries will hurt you in the long run and can burn you out. That’s not a happy state of affairs for anyone in any household. So, I make choices that I know will help me in the long run even if it’s painful in the short run. Do I love getting up at 4:45 AM? No. Do I always do it? No. But I am well aware that if I don’t get in my writing time for my mental well-being, my family will suffer. Sure, I am a bit tired on those days, but I am much happier and have plenty in my well for all of the work and craziness that comes with raising children—extroverted or not!