Before I met my husband, Matt, my basic (and wrong) understanding of extroverts and introverts was that extroverts like parties and introverts don’t. So after several years of dating Matt, who is often the life of a party and has this uncanny ability to talk to anyone about anything told me he was actually an introvert, I was confused.
I have since become wiser and understand that being an introvert or extrovert has much more to do with where one gets their energy.
I get my energy from being around people, and Matt gets his energy from being by himself. We both love parties and seeing our friends; I’m just less likely to go read a book afterwards.
As our son, Teddy, approaches the age of 2 and is becoming more like Matt everyday, it was no surprise to either of us that Teddy also shares introverted tendencies. My mother-in-law would tell stories about how when Matt was a toddler, he would leave a room and find his books whenever he felt overwhelmed by a social situation. Teddy could not be more like his dad in that regard; Teddy is often looking for his books. Some days, towards the end of the day when things start unraveling and the tantrums are in full swing, I plop him in his crib for a half hour with a stack of books and he comes out a whole new kid. He will even tell me “all done” when he’s finished recharging and ready to play again.
It was my inclination, especially being new to Baton Rouge with a 6-month-old, to get out there, do everything, and meet everyone. It made me feel so much happier and connected to the city to join a mom’s group, attend story hours, and have a glass of wine at a mom’s night out. However, over time, I noticed Teddy wasn’t having fun at some of the events we were attending. I would watch as he would survey the room of a big playdate, grab my hand, and pull me towards the door, as if to say “Momma, let’s gooooo!” Of course we would stay and not long afterwards, he would be crying and wanting a hug.
We stopped going to play dates for awhile because I left events feeling sad and stressed out because he was sad and stressed out. It took some time before I realized that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing with social events. Teddy and I just needed to find our balance.
Now I prioritize.
I prioritize small play dates over big play dates.
I prioritize familiar locations over new ones.
I prioritize places I know he can escape to another room for a break over ones that don’t.
And for now, he seems to be enjoying events more.
I have two close friends whose houses have become like second homes to us. Their houses are happy places for Teddy and me. He has been there so many times that he loves playing with their kids, but he also knows where the books are and which rooms he’s allowed to be in if he wants a break from the action. Meanwhile, I get to be with my friends. These friends and their houses are our ultimate balance; our favorite places.
We don’t go to everything that we are invited to every week. I say yes as often as I can but if we have a weekend full of birthday parties, Monday is most likely just a Momma and Teddy recharge day.
Even the parties that we do go to, we often miss a lot of the action because we’re taking a break in another room, and it’s okay because right now, Teddy is my party. He’s going to find his own ways to handle social situations as he gets older and will need me less. I know that our days of him grabbing my hand and going to a quiet room to read the junk food page of The Very Hungry Caterpillar over and over are limited. It’s moments like this — when he someday tells me “Mom, it’s okay, I can handle this situation” — that I will miss dearly.
So momma friends, please don’t be offended if we don’t come to a spur-of-the-moment play date, even though we don’t have any plans today. We might already have a busy week and today is an “introvert” day for us. But please, keep inviting us to stuff. An introvert day today means we’ll be ready for an extrovert day tomorrow.