I closed the door to my temporary hiding place and sat down wearily next to the mound of dirty laundry. Tears welled up in my eyes.
iBelieve author Debbie McDaniel continues:
Suddenly away from the constant bickering between kids, messy rooms, and constant questions and demands that only “mom” seemed to be able to fulfill, I longed to just be able to withdraw for a few moments of quiet…of rest. My mind raced. I wrestled with feeling like I could never keep up, too many balls in the air to juggle, so many needs, constant challenges, endless responsibilities.
Does this sound familiar to you? Are you constantly seeking time alone to re-boost your spirit, overwhelmed by people, voices, and the demands of motherhood? Or does the idea of hiding from your children seem foreign, or even despicable? Something no mother should even consider, much less carry out? How you answer that question might depend on whether you’re in introvert or an extrovert – and there’s often confusion as to truest difference between the two.
Introverts can be as varied as a rainbow in personality, but they have something in common that blogger Toni Hammer describes succinctly in her blog post, The Struggle of the Introverted Mother:
There is a misconception about introverts which believes we are anti-social. That is totally not the case. We can be very social. I don’t hide in the corner at parties nor do I spend every waking moment wishing I could be by myself. I need people like anyone else.
At the crux of being an introvert is the desire — the need — to be alone in order to rejuvenate. Some people can go to a party or a busy mall or an outing with a couple friends and feel completely refreshed and revitalized. For us introverts it is the opposite. Our downtime is sacred. We use the quiet, the stillness, the absence of interaction as a way to renew our bodies and minds. We need that time alone to become ourselves again.
Hammer confesses how hard it can be to invest in every moment of a toddler’s whirlwind life when you desperately need to be alone to re-charge, and the guilt she feels for making such an effort to enact what many would just consider routine motherhood duties.
But just as important as taking care of the kids, Hammer continues, is taking care of mom. Sometimes that means mom needs a break. In her Crosswalk article, Cortni Marrazzo writes that sometimes to keep life balanced, moms need do things like make a schedule or keep aware of what season of life you’re in.
Newborns require a lot of care and take up a lot of time and that time has to come from somewhere. There are other seasons that also may require an extra amount of time as well, such as a sick family member, a busy season at work, a home remodel, or other special circumstances. When we extend grace to ourselves during these seasons, it’s easier to accept our unchecked to-do lists and to embrace the season we are currently in.
Productivity and accomplishing things are great, but they should not be the main goal of our lives. The joy and meaning of our lives comes from our relationship with God, as well as our relationships with our family and friends. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33).
And what can the extroverts among us (like myself!) do to extend grace to introverted moms? Christina Fox’s 4 Ways to Encourage a Hurting Friend certainly apply to the unique struggles that introverts face. She writes that,
1. Silence often speaks louder than words. (Respecting an introvert’s need to for alone time and silence is a huge first step. Sometimes offering to watch the kids for her might be a more considerate move than suggesting the two of you meet for coffee)
2. Speak Gospel Love. (Even if her struggles seem foreign to you, don’t assume or tell her she’s doing it wrong. Her struggles are just different from yours!)
3. Pray. (Fox writes, “Tell them specifically how you are praying for them and then ask how else you can pray. Check in with them to get updates on prayer concerns. Consider writing out a prayer and sending it to them.”)
4. Don’t forget them. (Remember, introverts aren’t anti-social! All humans need interaction, love, and care, and your words and friendship can be a powerful force for good in her life)
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, remember that God’s Grace Flourishes in Our Vulnerability. Carmen Sechrist shares a time in her life when she opened up to her community for support, and instead of judged, she was wholeheartedly embraced.
With [tears] streaming down my cheeks, I couldn’t deny how very hard things were as a new mom. Raw with honesty, I shared through those tears how hard it was being a new mom. And through those tears, I began to see God work.
When I was done, other moms in the room came up to me, tears in their own eyes and told me they knew exactly how I felt. Other women who were pregnant with their first told me that they appreciated my honesty because it provided them a much-needed reality check that things might not be all as the commercials portray with a newborn
… When I’m willing to let my guard down and admit my weakness, admit my need, admit my struggles before my fellow man, it is then that I oftentimes see God at work the most.
How can you love an introvert today?
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: February 4, 2015