I love being a stay-at-home mom, but I’ve always been puzzled by certain questions people ask me. The one that probably boggles my mind the most is the typical, “Do you ever get bored?” Bored? Um, no. No, I don’t.
First of all, I have three kids, so boredom is not quite part of my day anymore. If it was, I’d likely enjoy it immensely. How could I be bored when I’m chasing my 1 year old around as she tries to eat out of the dog bowl and splash in the toilet?
Second, I’m an introvert, which means I enjoy calm, quiet activities that others probably find boring. Boredom is my happy place. I love deep conversation and hate small talk. I despise big crowds and prefer small gatherings to big events. I over-analyze everything to a fault and I need alone time to regenerate when I’m running on empty. Just give me a cup of coffee (or four), a good book and a warm blanket and I’m happy as a clam.
I’m an introvert. Boredom is my happy place.”
For a long time, I thought being an introvert was going to be a disadvantage for me as a mother. It seemed like most moms were outgoing, uber-friendly, and comfortable in social settings. I, on the other hand, am quiet, reserved and find social interaction draining. I was fine in intimate settings, like family gatherings or small get-togethers, but crowded events, big parties or even play groups made me want to retreat to my warm, cozy bed. I spent years wishing I could be more like my extroverted friends, but now, I’m happy to announce that I’m proud to be an introvert mom.
Before I embraced my introversion, I fought against it for a long time. At the beginning, it was hard for me to combine the world of motherhood with my reserved personality. Talking to other moms always left me feeling like an outcast. Every five minutes, I would receive a children’s birthday party invitation that probably cost more than my wedding invites, with some elaborate title like “Taylor’s Two Cute Tea Par-tea Celebration.” While other moms seemed to actually be excited to attend these gatherings, I was busy trying to come up with a way to get out of them. “Maybe I can schedule an appointment that day,” I’d wonder. “Or maybe my kids would get sick. That would be great! I mean…”
I came to feel that most moms didn’t understand me. I’d get looks of utter bewilderment when I’d suggest going to a house instead of a crowded park, which made me wonder if there was indeed something wrong with me. I was constantly hearing moms talk about their social calendars, as if they were actually happy to have a busy week full of play-dates, appointments and birthday parties. Meanwhile, being busy made me feel tired and stressed out. I was just focused on keeping my kids happy and healthy — preferably, in the comfort of my own home.
I had some friends who chose to accept me and my introversion by offering to have play-dates in more quiet, less populated areas, or meeting up at my house. Other moms probably thought I was selfish for not going out more. Don’t get me wrong: I did plenty of birthday parties, park trips, school functions and holiday events that pushed me well beyond my comfort zone for the sake of my kids’ wishes. But sometimes I felt like I was committing to things none of us even wanted to go to in the first place. After all, it’s not like my kids were demanding I take them to crowded places, birthday parties or play-dates.
In the midst of fretting about an upcoming social event one day, I started to panic. My mind raced with “What ifs”: what if my kids don’t behave, what if I don’t know anyone, or what if I say something stupid to another mom? To calm me down, my husband said something that was actually very wise. “We’re just gonna do what we want and everyone else will deal with it,” he said.
To me, those words were freeing. I repeated them to myself every time I saw a sparkly princess party invitation in the mail or answered my phone. “I don’t need to live my life to please other people,” I thought to myself.” I don’t need to try to be something I’m not. If our family is happy, than that’s all that should matter.” I finally decided to just be who I was, without worrying about other people’s opinions.
I began to realize that being an introvert has plenty of benefits. For starters, it makes me a great listener, which helps when talking to my kids. It also makes me more observant: I notice every detail around me, including every little emotion my children are exhibiting.
As an introvert, I spent so much time focusing on what I wasn’t as a mother, instead of focusing on what I was. Being an introvert had so many advantages when it came to parenting that I failed to see, because I was too busy feeling self-conscious about what other moms thought of me. Once I decided to stop caring, I was able to see my strengths instead of my flaws.
I no longer feel shame for being an introvert. Instead of focusing on all the stuff I’m probably not doing right, I focus on what I am doing right. As much as I admire those extroverted moms out there, it’s just not how I’m programmed, and that’s OK. It took becoming a mother to realize that not only am I content with being an introvert, I’m actually damn proud of it.