“It’s not you – It’s me”. I think nearly any introvert has felt the need to make this statement at least once. It can be so difficult to express and explain what it’s like to be an introvert. Most times when the awkwardness takes over it has absolutely nothing to do with the people around me – it’s all on me. The same applies to being an introverted Mom raising an extroverted child.
I Thought I’d Dodged A Bullet
I have to admit I got off a bit easy with my oldest. We are alike in so many ways including our introverted tendencies. I thought I’d dodged the bullet of having an extroverted child. He had no desire to be the popular kid. He was just as happy as I was to rent a good movie, eat some popcorn and spend the weekend at home – as a family. Birthday parties, sleep overs, play dates – even when he received invitations he rarely wanted to go.
He had plenty of friends, don’t get me wrong. Well actually he had plenty of kids who called him friend. He tended to use that word very sparingly and honestly only had 1-2 close friends. Even with that, he never wanted to go to their house or have a play date. He would rather invite them over to our home or settle for seeing them in school. It was heaven.
I had a happy kid who gave no threat to my introverted ways. I didn’t have to deal with other parents and the weird moment of trying to interact when all I wanted to do was be home. It was pure introverted parenting bliss for 10 years…
She tricked me!
Then came my oldest daughter. I thought I had scored a double hitter because as a toddler she’s was a bit shy which made me think I had another introvert. Nope. She tricked me. It’s as if the moment she turned 10 she became the kid who wants to go and be everywhere with everyone. My entire introverted world is officially in a panic.
So far I’ve dealt with several location birthday parties (I’m still dreading an in-home party – I’m so not ready), her very first playdate (at someone else’s home), sleep over invitations and I’m sure there’s more to come. With each one, I try to stifle my instinct to deny her requests and instead stand in awe at how this little extrovert is exploring and enjoying all the fun of childhood.
I don’t want to make her feel like she can’t be who she wants yet at the same time giving her the freedom to go to this party, that event and all the sleepovers also means I have to deal with this mom, that mom and all the people! So I created my own mantra…
It’s not them – it’s me.
There’s no reason why I should say no to any of the invitations. For her and for myself. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention. My extroverted child makes me her tag-a-long by default. While she is off playing and laughing with her other extroverted friends I’m left trying to turn on my reclusive extrovert to help me interact with the other moms, dads and adults standing on the sidelines.
I know from my childhood being an introvert can often be misread as being stuck up or even boujee. Feeling comfortable alone can come off as being anti-social. Being awkward in new situations can be seen as mean. For these reasons, I am always trying to be conscious of how I react in those situations. I want it to be clear, if for any reason I am awkward – it’s not them it’s me.
So I’ve come up with a plan. One with the soul purpose of learning how to parent an extrovert despite being a natural introvert myself…
1. Say Yes
I’ve learned if I think about accepting an invitation too long I’ll talk myself out of it. To get past this I say yes as soon as possible because on top of being an introvert I hate to disappoint. If I’ve already given my word I’m more likely to attend simply because I don’t want to disappoint or cause an inconvenience to anyone.
2. Get there early.
It sounds weird but arriving early gives me time to relax. To feel familiar and a bit more at ease once the crowd arrives. I don’t have that over-whelming feeling that comes when there’s a huge crowd and I’m the ‘new arrival’. If you know me, that’s why I’m early for nearly everything.
3. Remember it’s not about you
Being the parent of an extrovert when you are naturally an introvert means getting over yourself. It’s about your kiddie not you. So guess what that means? It’s about their comfort level not yours. If my daughter is okay with going to 3 birthday parties in 3 weekends then it doesn’t matter than 1 is my limit for the month. It isn’t for me it’s for her.
4. Keep your fears to yourself.
Don’t transfer your fear of situations and people to your child. This means sometimes keeping your thoughts to yourself. I’ve noticed I have been able to influence my daughter’s excitement about things by how I react to them myself. This is both good and bad. I can encourage her to do something but If I seem reluctant or hesitant I can literally see her own joy and enthusiasm change to reflect my fear.
There ya have it. That’s what I’ve learned so far in this new journey of raising an extrovert despite my introvert ways. It isn’t easy and I’m sure I have much more to learn but I am determined to give my daughter room to be herself fully without boundaries from who I am.
Now I’m sure if you’ve read this far (if you have – Thank YOU!) you’re wondering how TheMrsTee is describing herself as an introvert. I had this conversation with a fellow Blogger not too long ago. When she heard me say that she actually LOL’d. She couldn’t understand how I do what I do as a Blogger, Vlogger and Social Media Influencer and still see myself as an introvert. This is how I explained it to her:
Much like Beyonce has Sasha Fierce – Tiffany has TheMrsTee. They are both who I am except TheMrsTee is who I need to be when I am in a necessary social situation. I absolutely love my life as a blogger! I love the interactions, connections, networking and support I have found in this community. Still. My happy little introvert – Tiffany – is happy behind the screen in the security of my home.