Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Life as an Introvert, or JUST LEAVE ME ALONE

Sorry, didn't mean to yell in the title, but, honestly, sometimes... Oh, wait, I did mean to yell. Because I have had it up to here [picture my hand held above my eyebrows] with all of you, by which I mean humanity.

Sigh. So much of what we read about How To Cope With Motherhood is written by and for extroverts. So when they say, well, sometimes you need to have an Adult Conversation, they're wrong for some 25% of the population: instead, what we want is to have no conversation whatsoever.

We, the introverts, are the people who, rather than needing people, find other people (literally) tiresome. Not [to forge ahead, ill-advisedly, with the song tie-in] the luckiest people in the world. And I, for one, am cool with that. It was an absolute godsend in law school and grad school that I could spend hours upon hours alone, reading, with no more ill effects than eyestrain.

It's actually helpful with parenting, too, by the way, because I don't need conversation particularly, so I'm not going to go stir-crazy because I spend my days alone with a toddler. On days when she takes a nap, I get at least an hour of blessed solitude. Napless days can get pretty uncomfortable, like today.

But how do I explain to an extroverted two-and-a-half-year-old that no amount of The Cute will make Mommy feel more like hanging out with her? And that girl has Cute to spare.

The sad fact is that Introverts have to figure out how to get some time alone no matter how the Extroverts feel about it. And there are quite a few Clueless Extroverts in my life whose feelings I don't want to hurt.

Here's a scenario: husband is out of town, Introvert Mom wants a hand with child care, so Extrovert Grandma comes to town to help out. Great, except that EG's idea of how to help out is to more-or-less constantly be up ini IM's grill, asking questions, chatting, etc. It's called, in ExtrovertSpeak, Keeping Someone Company. Great, except that IM doesn't need company.

Ok, I'm going to cast aside the pseudonyms and just say that my mother is easily one of the most charming people on the planet and is so Extroverted that she simply can't imagine that everyone else isn't an Extrovert, too--there are just some really peculiar individuals who seem to have chosen to Not Like People and who Keep To Themselves. They're snobby and strange; occasionally, you get to know one of them and sometimes they're actually interesting, which is a huge surprise.

So, when I need time alone with my mother in the house, I have to go pretend to sleep. And ditto, re. my daughter (she'll only settle down to nap if I tell her I'm going to go lie down, which is what I do).

What I want to know is this: how is it that my daughter, who is adopted, is so much like her grandmother? Shoe prodigy? Check. Charming Extrovert? Check. Believes that every problem can be solved with More Charm? Check.

God help me. My childhood was spent with a mother who was constantly prodding me to Get Out There And Make Friends and my dotage is going to be spent with a daughter who's going to visit me at my assisted living facility and do the same damn thing.


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