When I was a child, I was repeatedly labeled as “shy.” I was never the most verbose kid on the block. As the younger of two daughters, I was perfectly content listening to my bubbly and chatty mother and older sister.
Throughout my primary school years, my “shyness” spilled over into interactions with peers and teachers. I was often chosen last for teams in gym class and in sixth grade I achieved the most-coveted “Shiest Camper” Award at Camp Cann-Edi-On.
In middle school and high school, I was terrified to speak to, or, perish at the thought, look most people in the eye (especially if it was my latest boy crush).
Fast forward to college where I emerged from my shell, attending an enormous Big East football university greatly helped. Even though I was still often perceived as quiet, I found activities to challenge my introvertedness and was drawn to extroverted classmates.
Clearly, when it came to socialization, I was a late bloomer.
What does all of this have to do with mothering? A lot, actually. My introversion didn’t entirely dissipate during motherhood.
Before I met my outgoing husband in my mid-30s, I had given up on marrying and having kids. So when we married, and had three children within five years, at times it was surreal. I never fathomed I’d have a “large” family.
Although I loved my children (and husband) and I cuddled and cared for them as much as possible, there were times I felt the need to hide. As often as possible, I’d retreat to the bathroom where I sometimes spent up to an hour listening to music or a podcast while blowing out my hair and painting on makeup. Often I wasn’t even going anywhere.
I tried to shed any guilt for not rushing through my already unusually lengthy beauty routine. It was my own unique way of rejuvenation.
As luck would have it, it turns out that two-thirds of my children are extreme extroverts–just like their dad. They’re boys. One has ADHD.
While I absolutely love being a mom and wife, and this is the happiest time of my life, I must be uber cognizant of the way I react to their rough-and-tumble antics; I must realize where I am recharged by quiet and isolation, they are reinvigorated by noise and closeness.
When I worry about my daughter–my social temperament clone–I have to remember to carefully toe the line of concern. The world would be boring with only extroverts. There would be no Eleanor Roosevelts, Susan Cains, or Abraham Lincolns. Besides, someday she might actually end up crossing into extroversion, like her mom. I teeter back and forth depending on the setting.
Ultimately, what’s most important is that I’m aware of the dynamics of our family and how we play off of one another. A sign in our kitchen reads, “You Call it Chaos, We Call It Family.” I love it. It perfectly sums up our life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
What’s a funny personality dynamic story in your family? Feel free to share in the comments below.
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