I never really knew there was a name for my personality type when I was growing up a shy, somewhat awkward teen.
It’s only really been since reaching my mid-twenties that I’ve grown a deeper understanding of myself – in conjunction with the fact that the likes of BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post have brought the power of introverts into the limelight (in fact it’s somewhat cool to be an introvert these days!)
It’s not that I am not social. I love people. But here’s the catch…I only love MY people. My tribe. The people I identify with. The people I can be myself around. The people who don’t utterly exhaust me. My family and friends.
And it’s not that I don’t like going out. I LOVE going out. Just not all the time. My home is my sanctuary. My husband and son are my happy place.
But even in this happy place, sometimes, just sometimes, I need to be alone.
I’m sorry if this makes me sound like an arsehole – I promise you I am a really really nice person. It’s just sometimes hard, because at the heart of being an introvert is the desire – no, the need – to be alone and re-charge.
Since becoming a Mum, this is a truth that has become a stark reality for me. I adore my boy, and I miss him so much when I am at work, but sometimes after a long day, I just need to be alone. And sometimes – and I hate myself for saying this – I like to be at work to have a “break”. To sit alone, with a cuppa, and write. It is my happy zone.
So you may wonder what the image of the book is all about on this post. Well to put it simply – it recently became a symbol of my desperate need to get some peace, but at the same time my complete inability to escape!
Indeed we recently enjoyed a beautiful holiday in the Maldives…the same resort that we went to last year. I took the book last year (a military history book about T.E. Lawrence…please don’t ask – I like World War I history, okay). And I took THE SAME damn book this year in the hope that I could get past page 20 this time round…
Babies, as it turns out, take up a phenomenal amount of time.
Now, I read most nights, but usually on my Kindle otherwise my husband moans about the lamp being on keeping him awake. This is the only paperback I’ve bought in recent years, because it’s good for the beach. And with a somewhat larger baby compared to our holiday last year, I was really really really hoping for a bit of me-time, alone…on the beach…with my book.
Did I get this alone time? Ha! Did I hell! At least, not the first half of the holiday.
You see, a one year old, as it turns out, is even harder work than a baby!!!
In fact it’s bloody mentally and emotionally exhausting – you constantly have to be on guard to make sure they don’t kill themselves – EVERYTHING IS A HAZARD! From death-trap swimming pools, to tables he could climb, concrete steps he could fall down, to breakable vases, and even (apparently) tasty-looking coral on the beach!
My husband and I were on guard 24/7 and we were together 24/7. There was sometimes no room to breathe. But at the same time we were happy to be on holiday – as a family – so we dealt with it calmly the first three days.
WE WERE BESIDE OURSELVES BY DAY FOUR!!!
So I, being the mean Mummy that I am, made the decision that Zachy was going to try kids club while Mummy and Daddy spent some quality “husband and wife time” alone on the beach.
So with clear instructions at kids club to bring Zachy to us on the beach if he was distressed, the husband and I went on our merry way – wine glasses in hand – to enjoy our chill time.
We had a swim for a while, and a little chit chat, but my mind was on my book – the book I had managed a meagre five pages of so far that holiday.
I NEEDED some escape time in the two precious hours of silence we had secured. It was actually quite desperate.
But my husband – bless him – being somewhat less of an introvert that me, thought we were there to talk the whole time! Ha! I made the respective “ummmmm” and “ahhhhhh” noises while he talked about scuba-diving and fish, and whatever else he was into that week…but he was secretly really getting on my nerves (sorry baby, you know I love you).
It went on for a while and I was getting cranky as the time was ticking. But luckily he took the hint and went silent. Good boy. But then, in the silence, he let out a really small accidental fart and I just lost my shit!
TEN MINUTES, JUST TEN MINUTES WORLD, PLEASE LEAVE ME IN PEACE!!!!
And then in what seemed like no time at all, Zachy was back. A feeling of relief and happiness came over me when I saw him, followed by horror that he was absolutely bawling his eyes out and had been crying the entire time we left him, despite our instructions to bring him back. I guess they just knew we needed some rest…but I felt awful – and guilty – for needing that separation from him.
He clung to me for dear life like he hadn’t seen me in a million years. I promised him – and myself – that we would not go back to kids club. He was more important to me than my book. Even my sanity.
But it’s really bloody tough. When are we, as parents, meant to have a break? The reality is that there is no such thing. All the responsibilities of being a parent can sometimes be overwhelming. And it’s sad, but I sometimes utterly yearn for my pre-mum carefree days of “sure I’ll go for happy hour after work” and “sure let’s just do sod-all the whole weekend and eat biscuits in bed”.
But then I remember everything I have got, and just how very lucky I am.
So was the amazing holiday we paid a fortune to go on the relaxing break I was hoping for – no it wasn’t, it was pretty stressful in fact. But did I love it? Yes, I adored it. Quality time with my boys is like nothing else in this world!
Did I get past page 20? Why yes I did! Following that little incident, my husband and I decided to split afternoon parenting duties so one of us could just go zone the hell out by the pool and order from the all-inclusive beverage list to our hearts content.
Did I enjoy this zoning? Oh yes, but I always missed my boys after an hour and would go looking for them for some happy play time.
So what am I getting at here? I don’t know really…I guess, if anything, be true to yourself, who you are, what you need. If you need to spend a night on the tiles to blow off some steam, go do it! If you need to sit in a dark hole with nothing but your thoughts, then you know, do that too. It’s important to look after number one.
For now, my book is sat happily on my bookshelf. My son is sleeping cozily next to me as I type this (yes, I am in my super-duper happy place right now!!) and I am about to switch off the light and read my kindle – the new Ken Follett epic, Edge Of Eternity – for the five minutes before I inevitably fall asleep (#MumProblems).
Are you a fellow introvert? How do you find your down-time? Or are you an extrovert? I would love to know what you do to unwind!
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