I always dreamed that I would be a fun mom — the kind who plays pretend with her kids all day long. The kind of mom who lets them paint with their toes on big rolls of paper or who creates a giant fort in the backyard. And I’ve tried. For years I really put forth an effort to be a continuous source of fascinating and educational activities for my children. There came a moment, though, when I realized (with a large dose of guilt) that I am not capable of sustaining the energy it takes to be fun.
That guilt has multiplied over the years. I’ve prayed to be more fun, I’ve read books, scoured Pinterest, and forced myself to continue participating in childhood play until I grew to hate it. That wasn’t a happy situation either.
I finally gave up and left the position of fun parent to my husband. I decided my job was to take care of the kids, and his job was to play with them. That decision didn’t help the guilt though. I wondered what was wrong with me. Why did I not enjoy the most fun part of motherhood? The answer came to me one day when I read something about introverts and extroverts.
You see, I always thought that an introvert was someone who was shy or quiet, and an extrovert is someone who is outgoing and bubbly. I’m bubbly, so I assumed I was an extrovert, which would mean I should be fun, right? Actually, the defining factor of an introvert and extrovert is in how a person gains energy in relation to people. If someone gains energy by being alone and loses energy by being around people, that person is an introvert. And if someone gains energy by being around people, but loses it by being alone, that person is an extrovert.
And that is when the lightbulb flashed on for me. I am an introvert! A bubbly introvert, but an introvert, nonetheless. So much of my motherhood suddenly made sense to me. That is why time alone made me feel refreshed. That is also why I felt so drained when I would spend time with my kids — even if it was a fun activity. That’s why after a day of them being at school, I can look forward to seeing them again.
I did feel that as a mother I got the worst of two traits, though. I’ve searched for many weeks for a positive spin on my children having an introvert as a mother. My final conclusion was that I am content to spend my day alone to make dinner, do the laundry, and take care of their needs. So even though I don’t have all the answers I’d like, I can move forward as a mom, knowing a little bit more about myself and finding peace in the fact that God made me this way.