Introversion and Motherhood

I am an introvert. I knew I was an introvert long before the, “How to treat introverts,” internet meme became popular. I knew what introversion was, and I never had to take a quiz to know whether I might be introverted.

I spend a lot of time in my head, and I spend a lot of time alone. This has been true for as long as I can remember. When I was a child I spent most of my afternoons exhausted from school, playing by myself in my room. I was shy, as well, and lacked confidence, but mostly I just liked being alone. I found relief when I was by myself.

This only got stronger during high school. Because I was active in band and orchestra, there was no longer a lot of time to be alone. I found myself reading novels and writing short stories during classes instead of engaging in lectures. I relished the time when I was home alone after school and my brother was still at football practice. I filled journal after journal with introspective, reflective musings.

As an adult I didn’t do particularly well with housemates. I couldn’t keep a college roommate for more than a semester. I even had problems with significant others because I simply became too stressed when I lived with someone else.

When I was around 22 I moved in with a roommate who was surprisingly understanding. He (and later they) allowed me to spend entire days in my room without questioning whether I was okay. Still, despite their understanding approach, I always felt awkward in the shared living spaces. So I nested in my room.

Eventually, I met Nikola, and we practically moved in together as soon as we met each other. Things went surprisingly well. He felt like an extension of my self, and I didn’t mind sharing my space with him (except the shower… sometimes I just wanted more space in the shower). Most importantly, he had no problem giving me alone time. He simply went to work on his computer and let me write, or veg out on countless episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or whatever.

Then, we decided to have a baby, and I worried about finances and whether I would make a good mother since I seemed to lack the basic drive to nurture, but I never even considered what role my introversion would play with a baby.

Well, 7 months later, my time allotted to introspection has dwindled to almost nothing. For the first few months I could read or play games on my tablet while the little guy breastfed, but now that he is more aware, easily distracted, and has teeth, I have to engage with him during his feedings. Likewise, his naps that used to add up to 20 luxurious hours a day are down to about 4, with a longer stretch of nighttime sleeping. This adds up to me being unable to sit and ponder with myself.

Generally, I take care of Peatuk while Nikola works. I am not constantly engaged with him, though. We play a few games and then I do some work or housework, or even edit the novel I am working on. However, I usually get about twenty minutes of uninterrupted ‘me’ time, at most. For example, by the time I finish one of these blog posts I have probably fed, changed, and played with Peatuk at least once, sometimes twice.

Lately, now that my sex drive is back in place, as soon as Peatuk goes down for a nap, Nikola (and I) takes that as a cue for quick and quiet lovemaking, because there is no other time for it. It’s the only time for Nikola and I to reconnect, without focusing on the little guy. Only, Nikola is coming from working all day, which is mostly solitary activity, and I am coming from engaging with Peatuk. Read: resentment. Sometimes, even though I want to connect with him, I also just want to be selfish and be alone.

I am starting to think about taking a full-time remote position, because working alone is time to let my mind wander and prance- to move through ideas without interruption, whereas 24/7 childcare involves this constant engagement that absolutely exhausts me.

They say it is important for all mothers to carve out some alone time, and I do. A shower without the baby. The occasional bike ride. It happens. However, how are you supposed to adjust from craving the majority of your waking hours to be spent in introspection to suddenly being taken out of your self and into the world of a very demanding little being. And one that cannot talk or process complex ideas to boot?

I guess this is where I end this post, and I guess this is one perfect example of what I am talking about. My ideas on this topic went no where. I started writing this post over two hours ago, and I was interrupted so many times that I can’t begin to taste the coherency that I used to relish after hours of careful consideration… I am starting to think a side effect of motherhood is my brain turning to mush.

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