The challenges of parenting seemed obvious to me. Crying, sleeplessness, poop, blah blah blah. Surprisingly, I’ve struggled with something far more difficult to overcome: my introverted and shy nature.
My default mode is reading a book by myself, headphones and iPod on, in a room with the door shut. I love doing stuff by myself. Eating out, art galleries, seeing movies – you name it, I’ve most likely done it solo. One of my uni lecturers nicknamed me “the girl with no friends”, because I’d often turn up to lectures by myself, instead of surrounded by a posse of mates. I had friends, but I always preferred my own company.
I’m now a mum of two, and very rarely do I have a moment to myself. Just now, I had a shower and I put my baby son in the bathroom with me, because he cries if he can’t see his mum. My three-year-old daughter sleeps in my bed, and always wants to sit on my lap. I’m with at least one other person 24 hours a day.
And I hate to admit it, but it’s draining.
I love my children more than anything. They are my favourite humans in the world, along with my husband. The reason why I am drained is because, as an introvert, constantly being around people saps my energy.
While the physical aspects of parenting are undoubtedly tiring – breastfeeding, carrying, wrestling exhausted toddlers into car seats – what I find to be the most exhausting is the never-ending company.
The question I’ve been asking myself lately is: how can I overcome my introversion, now that I’m a parent?
Look, I totally believe that everyone should be their true selves. But being an introvert and a parent are two things that just don’t go together, and I know I need to change.
Parenting is an innately social thing. When I was a brand new mama to my daughter, I remember feeling so confronted and uncomfortable when strangers would approach me in public, wanting to talk to me about my baby. At the time, I lived in a unit block, and the neighbours would literally chase me down to see my baby. The pressure to converse with several strangers is an introvert’s nightmare. I knew that these people cared about me and my child, but I didn’t have the energy to talk to people all the time.