I am one of those people that would love to be able to easily make friends but the thought of going up to a stranger and striking up a conversation literally fills me with dread. I’d rather have a root canal than have to speak to a stranger. And since I became a stay at home mom, I’ve noticed that this introversion has only gotten worse.
Now… I’m a great actor. If I’m out in a social situation with people I know around me, you would think that I’m in my element. I’m chatty and friendly and smile all the time. I look like I’m having a blast. Meanwhile I’m dying a slow, painful, exhausting death from having the energy drained from my body just from the effort of being in the room with people.
If being around people, especially groups of people is so terrible, why do I have such a big family?
So, funny thing about many introverts, when we are with family or people we are close to, we tend to be more open and friendly. Many of us thrive on close relationships and having a big family doesn’t have the same effect on us that being in a room full of strangers might.
That being said, having a big family isn’t always easy for this introvert’s soul. I love my family dearly, and would never change anything about having a large family, but it can be challenging managing myself (and my ridiculous quirks) and my family.
Some of the challenges we face may be a little surprising… others not so much. But large family life as an introvert can be challenging.
Alone time is a dream
One thing about introverts, is that we love our alone time. We HAVE to have it and when we don’t get it, we can wilt like that lily your husband gave you last year for your birthday. Having a large family, and being a stay at home mom that also homeschools means that the alone time I so desire is very very hard to come by. I take every chance I can get to just breath and try to recharge a bit. Things like going to the gym, going to the bathroom, taking a slow walk around the car…kidding… but seriously going for a walk, or just hanging out in the shower for 30 minutes can all be seen as valuable alone time that I seriously need. And if I can manage to sneak away to a store or starbucks alone.. Oh man.. It’s like having a mini vacation.
Want to have some fun? Try talking on the phone to the insurance company while your three and five year old are fighting over a toy, your six year old is performing her version of Swan Lake in front of you, and the baby is screaming to be picked up and fed.
Interruptions are a way of life in a large family. I have 5 little humans, that all have things that they want to show me or do all at once. The thing those tiny little sound demons don’t understand though, is those constant interruptions can cause me some serious anxiety. It’s not a control issue with most introverts, we just have anxiety issues and if we can’t complete tasks or if we get interrupted too many times, it can cause a serious system overload. Think back to 1999 when you were sitting in front of your computer, you bring up a website and as the page was loading you received 5 different pop-ups… what happens? The page would freeze up due the interruptions and you’d end up having to reload the page. Yeah, well, the same thing happens to my brain.
As someone who thrives on alone time and quiet, when the whole family is together and making noise, and talking, and moving.. This can cause some serious sensory overload. Just like with people with sensory issues, the constant noise and activity can just end up being too much for our brains and it can cause us to go into panic attacks. I love going to Disney World, but there have been times where just the drive into the park, and all of the noise, excitement, and activity has landed me in a rage filled crying heap in the front seat of our van just because it’s too much. We need time without the constant stimulation to allow our brains to recharge and rest.
Making friends is hard
Making friends as an introvert is hard. Making friends as a mom is hard. Making friends as a stay at home mom is hard. Making friends as an introverted, stay at home, mother… damn near impossible. Not just for me, but for my kids as well. Again, I can’t just walk up to strangers and ask them to be my friend. I mean I could… but I can’t. So, meeting new moms at the park is pretty intimidating. And when my kids make friends at the gym or the park or in a class and bring me the moms phone number… I just never know what to say or how to make that phone call. I’d rather meet the parent in person than make a phone call to a random strange mom.
Which leads me to the next thing… the guilt. The guilt that I am in some way hindering my children or not doing things right. Anxiety, which plays a big role in most introverts lives, is a funny funny bastard. It makes you worry about everything and one of the biggest concerns for most parents, is if we are screwing up our kids by what we do. So that guilt can be a real thing when we are worried about if we have done enough for our kids. Has my introversion caused my kids to miss out on some big opportunity or friendship or thing. I try my hardest not to let me issues get in the way of my kids growth but let’s face it, sometimes we screw up.
Being an introverted, stay at home, homeschooling mom, may feel like we have the odds stacked against us sometimes but we are still good moms.. Maybe a little crazy… but still good. We have some extra challenges in place and have to work a little harder sometimes to fit into this extroverted world but we can do it.