But then everything changed: I had kids.
When you become a mom, you're quickly thrown into the social world of parenting, where there are things like mommy-and-me groups, extracurricular activities, daycare drop-off and moms' nights out. I can handle these social situations, but they stretch me. A lot. And I've come to the conclusion that mom-culture is geared to extroverts, and the experience is totally different for introverts. Here's how.
1. Mom tribe? What's that? OK, I know what one is. But I don't have one, and it doesn't bother me. Well, sometimes. But only because society says I should have one.
2. I don't get invited to mom get-togethers. Wine and cheese mom party? Never been to one. Mommy-and-me yoga class? The invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. I guess I throw off a vibe or something, because I rarely get invited to the mom events in my community. But you know what? As much as I might like to be invited, I'd probably rather be at home anyhow. (Yes, I want to have my cake and eat it too.)
3. I don't join parent committees. "We could really use volunteers," say the emails from the parent council at my kids' school, or the parent committee at their extracurricular activity. I consider it for a second, and then click, delete—into my Trash folder. Please don't judge me or get offended. Another night out of the house after working all day? As worthy as the cause is, I just can't do it. If you need help, please ask me to do something I can do from home. I'm pretty great at stuffing envelopes!
4. My mom friends are mostly relatives or colleagues. What can I say? We have common interests and goals. Plus, our time together doesn't have to be planned or choreographed. It works.
5. A lot of my mom advice and "aha" moments come from the internet. Social media, parenting articles and chat forums are how I feel a connection with other moms—all without having to leave the comfort of home.
6. At my kid's activities, I'll always be sitting slightly off to the side. And I might be on my phone. I know I seem standoffish or busy, and that's why some people end up avoiding me. But what I really am is uncomfortable with small talk, and I'm using my phone to appear occupied.
7. I had to force myself to join a mom group when my kids were babies. Because that's what moms are supposed to do, right? What kind of mom would I be if I denied my babies all the socializing they need? So off we went to drop-in centres, mom-and-baby swimming lessons, library programs and music classes. But I often went through the entire course without making any connections that could have carried on after the class ended.
8. Days where we have zero plans do not scare me in the least. In fact, that's my perfect day sometimes. A day to hang out in our cozy clothes chilling with the kids and making sure our battery is good to go for our next social time.
9. Sometimes I just need a break from my kids. I know, I know—everyone needs a break from their kids. But an introvert's break will look different. We literally need a break from the constant chattering and relentless needs, and nothing will help but being completely alone, with quiet. When introverts need a break from their kids, they're not interested in a girls' night out with close friends; those can be nice (sometimes), but they're not the thing that recharges us.
10. I'm not abnormal. Living in a world that values the qualities of extroverts, I think it's important to remember that we introverts are a pretty big group. We aren't better or worse than outgoing extroverts—just different—and we have a lot to offer in our own, quieter way.
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