(Video of my favorite noise-makers)
I'm back to "real life" this week, with a return to my part time work and other daily activities. The first two weeks of a new session at the dance studio are always very busy. I work several more hours each of those weeks and get home after the kids have gone to bed. The work itself involves a lot of face time with customers, as well as music from two classrooms competing for ear space. I am reminded in a big way that I am an introvert. After just a few hours, I was exhausted from the constant sound and interaction. Halfway home, I realized I had talk radio on - barely listening and yet intruding into my head space nonetheless. Bad habit... I have to be more mindful of even minor sources of stimulation and its effects on my mood and emotions.
It's not obvious to many that I am an introvert because I absolutely enjoy conversation, meeting new people, getting together with friends, and I tend to be pretty high energy in social settings. Being introverted doesn't mean I'm shy, it does mean I need time alone to recover and recharge from my interactions with people. If I don't get that alone time....I get emotionally overwhelmed and G-R-U-M-P-Y. I even find phone conversations with beloved friends (or in-person conversations with my mate) can be draining after a busy day of engaging with others.
In fact, I've wondered a bit about whether being introverted makes parenting more challenging, especially now that Noah is super- conversant. It's more accurate to say he's fully fluent in the language of trivia, observations, questions and commentary. And while I mostly cherish my children's curiosity, some days the 4 year old's trivia and commentary feels too much. For example, Noah will rescue the dog's water dish from an encroaching Ezra (who likes to upend the bowl). He will then tell me what he did. He will then ask if I'm happy that he did what he did. He'll tell me in even greater detail how he just moved the dog's water dish, to where and how much fluid was in there. Remember the time we forgot to move the water dish and Ezra got the whole floor all wet?.... And so on and so forth...I frequently feel overwhelmed by his nonstop chatter.
I have to recognize and protect my need for quiet because it requires effort to make it happen and the consequence of not doing is feeling overwhelmed and unhappy. This is especially true as a mother of young children...I am frequently with them for 6-8 hours at a stretch as the sole caregiver. When I have high-face time with the kids all day and/or in the evenings at work, I need to carve out opportunities for solitude by arranging childcare, practicing yoga (even a 30 minute home practice helps), reading books rather than sifting through minutiae on the web on my phone (bad habits!). Other ways I keep myself centered during busy times include exercising and staying ahead of my hunger with protein-rich foods (I have a high metabolism and get cranky when hungry).
If you are an introverted parent, I would welcome any tips on finding quiet amidst the noise of parenting. Here's to self-awareness!