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Introverted Mother, Extroverted Child

Okay, so it turns out that not all the girls I went to middle schools turned out to be total wastes of space. I've  wound up friending several of them on Facebook, and aside from occasional epic differences in politics (southern Maryland is The South, y'all, and don't you forget it). One in particular I've rebonded with is Erin Gross.

Erin is a totally fun blogger and a wicked writer. She's fun, and funny, and made a hell of an Ebeneezer Scrooge when we put him on trial for a book report project in the eighth grade. She is also, emphatically, an extrovert. Her son, it turns out, is an introvert. She has been completely, and sometimes painfully, honest about her quandaries about how to raise a person with such different needs from herself.

This is where I come in.

I am an introvert. Wow am I an introvert. I need a day off to recover from family dinners involving more people than my immediate family. So, when Erin would make a blog post about her son Tank's introvertedness, or ask for suggestions on Facebook, I would generally chime in.

Now, my daughter, whom I refer to online as Herself, it turns out, is not an introvert like her Mama. Or her Daddy. Or her Aunt Cheryl. My darling girl, it is becoming quite clear, is an extrovert. She's also an only child and more than likely to stay that way. This means that she craves interaction at a rate that the three adults in the house can barely keep up with. Oh, and she's a morning person, too, so she frequently wants this together time at ungodly hours of the morning. This situation yanks on my mommy strings; I feel like I can't always give my kid the kind of interaction she needs.

Now, I know, that I need to take care of myself in order to be the best mom I can be. And that means taking alone time to recharge.

But.

But, but, but.

(You parents out there are nodding your heads. You non-parents probably just think my nearly-five-year-old's vocabulary is rubbing off on me. You'd both be right.)

This is where you come in.

My darling readers, all fourteen of you, what are your suggestions for an Introverted Mama raising an Extroverted Girl?

Comments

  1. Is she old enough to participate in play groups or activities where she can get more interaction (perhaps she does so already)?

    Is there a quiet activity you can do where you can be present, but don't need to be a bundle of energy?

    I'm fortunate in that while both of mine are more extroverted than I am, they have definite introvert tendencies. And they're older. =)

    If we lived closer, I'd send one (or both) of mine over to give you a break. They do love little kids.

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    1. Thanks! If you ever want to ship one of the kids south for a week, let me know. :) (Seriously, I'd be totally okay paying MP to be a mother's helper during a vacation. Or M, in a couple of years.)

      She does get a LOT of interaction at school. It's weekends this stuff primarily happens. I'm just afraid of scheduling her childhood away.

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  2. So as an outie growing up in a family of innies I have a lot to say on the matter. My mother used to tell me I didn't like to ever be alone as a child. Outies NEED to recharge with people and I imagine that can be very draining on innie parents.

    I'm not sure how old Herself is yet, or if she's in daycare. I would HIGHLY recommend, even when you are a stay-at-home parent, putting your outie into preschool or at least some kind of day care environment a few days a week, if not every day. Once she gets into school it will be easier for her to recharge.

    She needs weekend activities- girl scouts, sports, theater classes, something where she can participate with other kids. Preferably somewhere you can drop her off for a while if activity drains you. If you can find a good friend to swap childcare and play dates with, that would also be great. Two innie parents could learn to take turns recharging and engaging with the outie child.

    Make sure to TEACH her the difference in how you both recharge. Extroverts especially need to learn how to interact with introverts because we tend to think the world revolves around us. It's OK to enforce your own boundaries and make your relationship a give and take. Stay home for a bit so mom can recharge, then I'll take you out to do X.

    There are also some activities that you can do together that don't involve too much extroversion on your part, but might be enough to let her recharge a bit. For instance, playgrounds, malls, the zoo- any place there is a crowd for her to feed off of but that doesn't require any conversation or real socialization for you. She'll learn to make friends in these environments and you can bring a book and withdraw a bit.

    Once I learned the difference between myself and Tank as an innie, it made a WORLD of difference in how I parent him. I have given up my dreams of living vicariously through his many activities and realized he may always be a one activity at a time kind of kid. So I've learned to just give myself MORE activities! LOL

    Hope this helps- glad we reconnected so we can be a source of information for each other as we raise our little opposites!!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your insights. This was exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to hear!

      Herself is in all-day daycare/preschool, so it's really just on weekends I start pulling my hair out. I LOVE the idea of the zoo. And thank you for pointing out that we need to start teaching her about how different people recharge different ways. It's so obvious I hadn't even thought of it. :)

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