Tag Archives: moms

Alone Together (Or Not)


Normally Kathy and I “write blind” – that is, we select a topic, write our pieces, and then compare notes. For this post, however, I read hers first. And I am so glad I did because our perspectives could not be more different.

With two small people the challenges of keeping them both happy multiply. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I’m doing a puzzle with Lunchbox and Slim is playing in her room, or when Slim and I are working on her homework and Lunchbox is playing on his iPad or goofing off with Dreamy. These bursts of relative contentment last only as long as someone’s good mood, unfortunately, and Dreamy and I constantly drift back and forth between the two kids. Thus we don’t have the same type of togetherness as what Kathy describes; ours is more fluid and free-flowing.

Together time can be better managed by splitting up – a way for parent and child to bond without completely wiping out said parent’s energy. While not ideal, it is a good strategy for some activities and errands. Dreamy will take Slim to a Girl Scout event, for example, while Lunchbox and I go to the park or to get the groceries. They each get a parent to themselves (win!) and this sort of concentrated one-on-one time works best with my introversion (win!). Plus, sometimes I find it overwhelming doing things as a foursome given the age, gender, and temperament differences between Slim and Lunchbox (and shoot, let’s be real here, sometimes between Dreamy and me).  But that’s a subject for another post.

The idea of “alone together” time is lovely in theory but in practice it often doesn’t work at my house. Sometimes, though, particularly with Slim, we can pull this off, such as cuddling in bed at night, each engrossed in our own books. And I as I write this, Lunchbox is jamming away on the Wii. So even though the Mario Kart music is blasting in my ear, he’s happily in his own universe while I’m toodling along in mine.   

This gives me hope for the future.  As Slim careens towards the Tween Years, I want for us to do things together, to have a shared interest. We both like baking and maybe a cake decorating class is in our future. Same goes for Lunchbox – he and I can resume our mini-nature hikes in the spring if he decides to begin wearing pants on the regular.

Until then we shall muddle through. With earplugs, because I really hate Mario Kart.


The Paradox of Summer

August is almost over and that means the end of summer.  We’ve got some thoughts on guilt, meltdowns, and how our months off might look different next year.

KathySummer Guilt, 2015 Edition

There is no question that Doodlebug learns something important every summer at camp. I don’t mean things like facts about rocks or a new art technique. I mean something about Life. One year, it was that new things are always easier with a friend. Last year, it was that sometimes you have to try new things on your own, but that you’ll survive and maybe even have fun.

This year, she learned that things sometimes look good on paper but turn out to be boring in real life. Also that some kids are just mean.

So yeah, camp didn’t go so well this time around. It didn’t help that iDad and I knew Doodlebug would much rather be home, doing Minecraft or reading or playing with Shopkins. Or, you know, spending time with us. Nothing like a tearful conversation about why parents still have to work all summer to make you question your priorities.

And part of me says, look, we do still have to work. She’s old enough to get that. We did all kinds of things together this summer. Two weeks of half-day camps—thirty hours out of an eleven-week summer—is not cruel and unusual. Yes, she had some rocky moments, but she made it through and I’m proud of her.

Another part of me says, yeah, but it’s camp. You always hated it yourself. Remember Vacation Bible School? Remember the Girl Scout day camp? <shudder> I’m an introvert raising an introvert. I know that camp might turn out to be fun, or it might be a giant drain on your energy tank. That’s the opposite of what summer is for.

So this, I’ve concluded, is the paradox of summer: I feel like I can only gain time for myself by taking it away from Doodlebug. The two weeks of camp were great for iDad and me. We both got much more done without having to scramble around and cover each other’s work time. I felt like I could think straight again after being pulled in a million different directions for weeks. It was a good feeling. But it came at the price of an unhappy kid. Why hello, guilt. So nice of you to join us.

I never feel guilty about sending her to school, just like I never felt guilty about putting her down for a nap when she was two—those are things that have to happen. Learning and sleeping are her jobs, jobs that just happen to come with a side of alone time for me. But camp is different. Camp is optional, and so who is it for? Her, or me? And if it’s for me, is that okay? My head says yes, my heart says no.

So next year, we’ll see. Maybe we’ll try going camp-free, and maybe she can have some sort of long-term summer project to give us some structure. You know I love structure. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure this all out before she turns 18 . . . right?

— Kathy


Mega Monster Meltdown

Or, the Afternoon I Wished Parenting Weren’t One of My Core Personal Projects

“We’ve all been there,” she said, looking at me with sympathetic eyes. I muttered something like “Thanks” or “Do you want him?” as I walked by her, struggling to contain Lunchbox.

What started as a small disagreement had escalated to a meltdown; I calmly told him it was time to leave the pool. He lost it and suddenly we were at DEFCON 2 in terms of his behavior.  I slung him over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes while he kicked and screamed “Nooooooooooooo!!” at the top of his lungs. I was mortified. All eyes were on us as we trudged toward the exit.

After fighting to buckle him into his carseat, I turned on the car and took a deep breath. My hands were shaking and I felt like barfing. This was my worst fear — that my first summer with the kids would be filled with these types of episodes. Could I handle them? What would I do if I lost my temper completely and did something I’d regret? I knew the tantrum would eventually fizzle out and that a cocktail (or four) would help calm me down, but what, if anything, could or should I do to prevent this type of situation? Both Slim and Lunchbox had had their moments, but this was one, if not THE, worst one yet.

Developing a strategy for my first Teacher Mom Summer (TMS) had taken some time. Dreamy and I decided not to enroll the kids in any camps, hoping to save money, and I wanted them to sleep late, eat breakfast in their pjs, and, in general, be lazy. I asked Slim and Lunchbox about things they’d like to do and we came up with a list. We’d do one Big Thing each week (a movie, a museum trip, Lunch with Daddy) and divide up the the rest of the days with visits to the pool, the park, and play dates. Chore and Screen Time would be worked in as well.

This worked for a few weeks. The routine was nice but interrupted by some bigger projects I had hoped to accomplish during the break (such as cleaning, redecorating, and organizing Slim’s “Hoarders” episode-ready room). The kids were frustrated and acted out accordingly; I felt guilty and selfish for not making our plans a priority.

So, old conflict, new circumstances: where’s the line between your own goals and Mom responsibilities? Crossing things off my To Do list helps me feel accomplished, and usually my projects provide much-needed time to myself as well. In an effort to recalibrate I tried working on my stuff in the mornings and doing our planned activities in the afternoon. The result? Progress on Slim’s room slowed and both of them spent waaaay too much time staring at screens. I don’t have an answer but am thinking that my TMS flow will take time to evolve, much like my school-life flow (see my previous post).

As we hurtle towards a new school year, I already know next summer will look a bit different: one or two camps per kid; two or three dedicated afternoons to myself each week; and perhaps better expectations management on my part. Maybe such a plan will help us avoid mega monster meltdowns and me wishing for an extended and semi-permanent break from motherhood.

Thoughts please, fellow Introverted Moms!

— Tiffany

Write It Out

The Moms like to write.  Duh.  But how does writing help in the parenting department?

Tiffany Confession time:  I babble when nervous.  Gaps in conversation make me uncomfortable and as a result, I prattle.  On and on until I can extract myself from the situation.  I will change the subject six or seven times, pepper people with inane questions, or blurt out something marginally inappropriate and usually profane.

While I am perfectly content with silence (oh, hell, I CRAVE it, who are we kidding?) when alone or with a few carefully selected friends, larger groups of people or social events cause me to quake with fear on the inside.  Numerous times during these interactions I find myself thinking, “Couldn’t I just write you all an email?”

Introverts like to write.  It is easy to see why:  writing allows time to process and construct responses and to reflect upon the interaction itself and any resulting feelings or ideas.  For me writing is a quiet, solitary activity.  Writing also serves as an ordering exercise and allows for the mental arrangement of a tiny portion of the endless stimuli with which I am bombarded.  It can take the form of a simple list to a free-form exercise describing the overwhelmingness of everyday life or how happy a pair of well-fitting pants makes me feel.  These things, in aggregate, calm me down and permit a return to center, if you will.  Oh, the power of a blank piece of paper and a pencil.

And believe it or not, I think an affinity for writing makes me a better mom.  Obviously there are many, many situations with small children that do not allow time to formulate a considered response (example:  Señor Lunchbox.  Every.  Damn.  Day.).  As Princess Slim has matured, however, we’ve had some great conversations during which I’ve been able to offer more considered and thoughtful responses to the changing nature of her questions.  Writing has undoubtedly trained me to think this way.

I hope writing will bolster our mother-daughter relationship during the tumultuous teen years when she hates me and doesn’t want to acknowledge my existence.  That can all be fixed with a funny note or email, right?  

– Tiffany

KathyPoking my head in after a week away at a writing workshop to say I AGREE, both on the importance of writing for introverts and the sad lack of opportunities to gather one’s thoughts while wrangling little kids. One of the toughest things for me as a parent is having to fly by the seat of my pants so often.

But, like Tiffany, I hope that will change as Doodlebug gets older. Long ago I wrote down the title of this book, a journal for moms and daughters to write together. It looks like it’s aimed at tweens, and I think it will be great to have not only a place where we can “talk” without being face to face but also a method of communication that will allow me to marshal my thoughts and my reasoning ahead of time.

You wouldn’t even have to use a true diary, any notebook would do. And Doodlebug and I both looooove pretty notebooks. I might just have to raid my stash and get us started sooner rather than later. Maybe today!

– Kathy



Being an Introvert: How and When?

We thought it might be interesting to write about when and how we first knew we were introverts and how this realization shaped our personalities. And how we might parent differently as a result.

tiffany_head_128It was Sunday afternoon. Or rather a series of Sunday afternoons when I was a kid.

After my family went to church (if we went. Sorry God!) we would eat lunch and scatter: my dad napped on the couch or read; my mom disappeared to her sewing cave downstairs; and my younger brother played outside, in his room, or – being the extrovert – at someone’s house. There were no lessons, no sports, no nothing except long afternoons and my own imagination.

I would wander up the street to play with friends only if someone forced me. My preference was to be by myself with my toys, dress up clothes, books and other things not requiring human interaction. Naturally there were times when I was bored but some of my best childhood memories are of those unhurried, solitary afternoons. No additional people required.

By junior high I suspected I was different. By high school, I knew I wasn’t like other kids in my class. My parents knew too and were sensitive enough to give me space on weekends to recharge. During the first weeks of college someone called me an introvert. Mr. Webster provided the definition and the cartoon light bulb switched on over my head.

Anyone reading this blog knows it is currently fashionable to be an introvert. This wasn’t always the case. I tried, so hard, for so many years, to deny and subvert it, because it wasn’t cool to stay home on Saturday night or to not go to happy hour three nights a week. Only recently, really recently, have I become ok with saying “This is who I am.”  I think it has something to do with being over 40 and no longer giving a rat’s ass what people think.

Accepting the introvert means acknowledging when my Solitude Tank is running low. It is easier to say “I need to be by myself for a while” rather than morphing into a snappy shrew who’s pissed off at everyone JUST BECAUSE. Small restorative breaks enable me to be a better person which translates into better managing my various roles. I feel guilty, of course, but I feel infinitely worse when I turn into Her Shrewness and treat everyone like shit.

So. How has this affected my parenting? When Princess Slim goes in her room and closes her door, I don’t knock. I try not to arrange Sunday play dates because this time, this having-nothing-to-do time, is critical in a world where everyone is overscheduled. I want her to learn to be alone and to be ok with it. If and when Señor Lunchbox doesn’t require as much supervision (please God, sorry about church again, but please let there be a when) I will do the same. I won’t force them to do stuff they don’t want to do in spite of the incredible pressure to do and join and play.

Will they suffer? I hope not. We can only afford to have one person in therapy at a time and that’s ME, bitches.

— Tiffany


I don’t know when I learned the word introvert, but the first time I understood the concept was in ninth grade.

During freshman year I had a group of lively, crazy, silly friends. We passed notes at school, talked for hours on the phone, went to the movies, had sleepovers, and got kicked out of half the stores at the mall for excessive giggling.

In between, I hid out in my room to read, write stories, and memorize all the songs on They Might Be Giants’ Flood album. And I wrote in my journal nearly every day. My favorite topics were how many times That Guy said hi to me in the hall and what everyone was wearing. (I thought I might want to be able to picture how people looked later on. Memo to 9th Grade Me: No. You won’t care. Sorry.) I really do think those spiral notebooks were the key to my sanity, giving me space to sort through the many dramas of fourteen-year-old life.

By the end of the school year, which included back-to-back overnight trips with choir and color guard, I was seriously drained. So I pulled back, but I didn’t have the vocabulary (or, truthfully, the maturity) to say to my friends, “Look, I’m an introvert. Even when it’s super fun, being with people nonstop wears me out. I need some time to recover, but then I will totally be up for going to Boardwalk Fries.”

Instead I kept turning down invitations, which tends to make people think you don’t want to be friends anymore. We never had a huge falling out. But things just weren’t really the same. And after that year, I did protect my downtime more carefully. I kept writing in my journal, too, which continued to be a calm place when things got crazy busy again.

Fast forward to seven years ago when Doodlebug was born. By then I did know the term introvert, but it honestly never crossed my mind that being one would affect my transition into parenting. I had stocked the freezer with six dozen muffins, but I had exactly zero plans for making sure I would get the alone time I needed.

Add in sleep deprivation, nursing issues, and the idea that good moms love spending every minute with their babies, and it was a rough time at first. Some days are still rough. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, though. Doodlebug can spend hours drawing and writing her own stories. She has decimated my supply of spiral notebooks, but that’s okay. I’ll just keep buying more. For both of us.

— Kathy

Meet the Moms

Who are we and who do we think we are, having time to blog?

My name is Tiffany. I am married to Dreamy. We have two children, Princess Slim, seven, and Señor Lunchbox, three. I am originally from a tiny town in Illinois but have lived in and around Washington, DC for more years than I care to count.  I work full-time outside the home.

Not surprisingly, my introverted self struggles mightily with working, commuting, and child-raising. Not to mention being a wifefriendauntcousinsisterdaughter. The old saying about being ‘spread thin’ sums up how I feel every. single. day.

Thus my purposes for blogging are twofold. First, to build a community of similarly-situated introverted moms facing these kinds of challenges who can not only commiserate but share coping strategies as well, ‘cuz sometimes I’m not so good with the coping. Second, to try and reclaim some of the creativity I had before the responsibilities of being a full-time everything hit. Plus, true to my introverted self, I prefer writing about things rather than discussing them in person. Unless you are my therapist, to whom I pay a shit ton of money for the privilege of listening to me babble.

Fair warning: I swear a lot. If you are sensitive to that you might want to stick to Kathy’s posts. I also like Jay-Z, all things British, and making labels.

KathyI’m Kathy, and I do too curse, but only if I’m really mad at you. Or tired. Or if I haven’t been getting enough downtime.

I’ve lived in Virginia my whole life, currently with my husband (iDad) and our seven-year-old daughter (Doodlebug). For the past ten years I’ve done some variation of working from home – first as a writer, then as a mom, and now as a mom struggling to find a good balance between writing time and family time.

You know Hermione, from the Harry Potter books? When in doubt, go the library? That’s me, too – but nothing I read in all those parenting books prepared me for the collision between my introverted personality and the intense experience of being responsible for a whole other person. Someone should be writing about this, I told Tiffany. Maybe we should be writing about this. So here we are.

P.S. Do you like Nutella? Okay, good. I think we’re all going to get along just fine.