Tag Archives: parenting

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

Hello? Is It Me You’re Looking For?

  Tiffany  As a child of the 80’s this Lionel Ritchie song pops up in my head every now and then. And I figured it would be an amusing way to re-introduce myself to the fabulous Introverted Mom community. To refresh your memory you can read more about me here.

Three cheers to Kathy who has so brilliantly run the blog since January. Hip hip hooray! (Repeat two times to yourself.) I am thankful to her for picking up my slack and for growing our group, and I am super excited to be back.

So where the Hell have I been?

The short answer: school. Because I am a masochistic lunatic.

Earlier this year I enrolled in a professional development course. It turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated. “This is like taking a firehose in the face,” one of my fellow panic-stricken colleagues said. Weeknights and weekends (and, let’s be honest here, workdays) were suddenly consumed with reading, researching, and paper-writing. While it was exciting to engage long-dormant parts of my brain, it was almost paralyzing to realize how much more I was suddenly responsible for. Dreamy took on the brunt of the domestic responsibilities and it is only thanks to him that we somehow survived five months of Utter Nightmare Class. It wasn’t pretty but we slogged through.

Throughout this experience I was on my own a lot, hunkered down at a coffee shop or the library.  And you know what?  I was lonely.

Wait. What?

“I’m an introvert,” I thought to myself. “We don’t get lonely. We LIKE lonely.” But I was, and I didn’t like it at all. Feeling disconnected from one’s husband and kids is terrible and it served to amplify and exacerbate the school stress. When we did spend time together as a family I was bitchy and distracted by ever-present papers and projects. Not pretty, indeed.

We all suffered until I was able lean back (sorry, Sheryl Sandberg) and let go of the need to get perfect grades and to perform perfectly at work. Giving myself permission to not earn a  perfect grade on each and every assignment (hmm, sensing a theme here, are we?) liberated me from my own idiotic false expectations and empowered me to refocus and recommit mental and emotional energy to my family.  And voila – the loneliness vanished.  I still cared about doing well but “A Little Less Than the Best” became my official motto. Releasing those expectations felt wonderful and I regret not doing it much sooner.

Now that the course is mostly finished I have a newfound appreciation for the time I thought I didn’t have before; time which, while enrolled in the class, was necessarily highly structured and managed. I can see now how much time I DO have to devote to the kids or myself or to other things, like the blog or DIY home projects. Having truly free time again is a gift I will do my best not to squander.

Now then. Off to purge and organize the medicine cabinet. Just because I can.



KathyDoodlebug is an only child, so playdates are a way of life for her – if she wants to see another kid outside of school, we have to find one. For me, though, they’re definitely a mixed blessing. When they go well, they can be a nice little mini-break. When they don’t, they can drain the life right out of me. Here’s a list of playdate experiences you may recognize, in order from ahhhh to aughhhh!


The Holy Grail – you drop your kid off at the house of a friend she loves. They play for several hours while you go home and read, or nap, or do whatever you want.

The Family Affair – you are friends with the parent AND your kids like each other too! The kids play peacefully while you and your friend talk about Orphan Black. (NINE. DAYS!)

The Lunch and a Movie – you and a friend take your babies to one of those special movie showings for parents with little ones. You get to see a movie for grown-ups and maybe even have lunch, hopefully while the kiddos nap throughout. (Okay, this isn’t exactly a playdate, but those were good times.)

The Happy Surprise – a new friend comes over to play with your kid and they get along beautifully. They make crafts, share the toys, and eagerly eat whatever snack you offer. (Am I the only one who is paranoid about snack? Like the kid will starve if they don’t eat something in the two hours they’re at my house?)

The Coelacanth – your kid calls a friend herself, then they run around outside the whole time and you never even have to see them. (Fine, this has never happened at our house, but this does still exist, right?)

The Hit and Run – “Can I drop Molly off for a while kthanksbye!” (I love advance notice. I really, really love advance notice.)

The Nap Eraser – the playdate lasts longer than you thought it would and your kid conks out for ten minutes in the car on the way home. Then they’re up and cranky for the rest of the afternoon – goodbye, downtime. (Doodlebug hasn’t napped for about four years, but just typing out that scenario makes me want to cry.)

The “Preschool teachers should get paid more” – your house is full of kids fighting over the same toy. Everyone ends up in tears. Then they find the drums and maracas and decide to have a parade.

The Ninth Circle of Hell – The playdate has no pre-set end time. Your kid and her friend start fighting after five minutes and you have to wrangle them for who knows how long. Outside. In August. In 90% humidity. This one will require pizza delivery for dinner and days of recovery time.


So which ones did I miss? Tell me about your favorite and least favorite types of playdates in the comments!

— Kathy

Why Introverted Moms Rock

KathyNo one would ever accuse me of being the perfect mom. Like many people, though, I think I’m my own worst critic. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I often feel guilty about how my introversion affects my parenting.

So today I present an anti-guilt post. Because, you know what? It’s actually pretty awesome to have an introverted mom. Here’s why.

Book recommendations for life. I’ve already introduced Doodlebug to Lilly and her purple plastic purse, Trixie and Knuffle Bunny, Fancy Nancy, King Arthur, Laura Ingalls, Betsy Ray, Ramona Quimby, Chet Gecko, and Calvin and Hobbes. On deck: Harry Potter, Anne Shirley, Jo March, Hercule Poirot, Thursday Next, and many (MANY!) more.

No overscheduling. Right now, Doodlebug goes to Brownies every other week. That’s it. No all-day soccer Saturdays, no squeezing in an art class on Tuesday afternoons, no Spanish class before school. If she ever indicates that she wants to do one of those things, great. But so far she hasn’t, and I completely get it. My downtime was so crucial to me as a kid that I will respect and protect hers for her.

Braaaains. If kids came with instruction manuals, Doodlebug’s would definitely include a prescription for an hour of hard outside play every day. She needs it and we try to make sure she gets it, but let’s just say that I’m more… indoorsy. The good news about that is, many of my favorite activities are brain-builders in disguise, including:

  • Jigsaw puzzles – Doodlebug is currently helping me with a bike-themed one.
  • Trivia – my plan to turn her into a fellow Jeopardy addict is coming along nicely.
  • Mad Libs – hilarious, yes, but with a painless introduction to the parts of speech.

It’s pretty awesome to have an introverted dad, too – iDad is handling the engineering, computer science, and chemistry portions of her smart-by-way-of-fun curriculum.

Baked goods. Maybe this isn’t true for all introverts, but I love to get in the kitchen with some measuring cups. I will seize upon the slightest reason to bake something yummy, which means we usually celebrate Doodlebug’s half birthday with a half chocolate/half vanilla cake, and last May the 4th (aka Star Wars Day), this happened.


So the next time I find my lack of faith in myself… disturbing, I will come back and read this post. And I hope you’ll remind yourself (often!) why your kids are lucky to have you, too.

— Kathy

Who Needs Sleep?

The Moms do, because this week we are too tired to come up with a witty intro.


I recently read Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think because, well, who doesn’t want more time? I liked her suggestion of figuring out what your “core competencies” are – the things that are most important to you or that only you can do – and eliminating or outsourcing the rest. It helps with all the saying no that we talked about last week. Making my own cheese? Not a priority for me. Handcrafting all my holiday cards? Not a priority for me. Having all the laundry done? Not, apparently, a priority for me.

You know what else is not at the top of my list? Sleep. Anyone who knew me before kids will tell you that’s crazy because, you guys, I was such a good sleeper. I’m a night owl, so I’d stay up until 1 or 2 AM and then sleep till late morning. Okay, or noon. But there are several reasons I’ve had to give up my champion sleeper crown.

  1. The sweet, little-girl-shaped alarm clock we acquired seven years ago

  2. Insomnia (grrr)

  3. Downtime

One of these things is entirely under my control. I could be asleep every night at 10:00. I know this, and every so often I will vow to be better. I will avoid the Internet rabbit hole and not even turn my laptop on at night. I will not read one more chapter. I won’t start that second episode of Friday Night Lights because by the time it’s over it will be too late and I’ll be exhausted and okay, but this is the last one, I promise! It never lasts. 11:30 is my set point.

Doodlebug goes to bed at 8:30, and by then I’ve survived school pick-up (often with playground mom-chatting), the trip home (often chasing after her on her scooter), homework, making dinner, cleaning up, bathtime, reading time (ahh), and the bedtime routine. Yes, I work at home, and yes, I spend a lot of time by myself during the day, but that evening stretch is brutal. At that point I definitely deserve a prize, and that prize is time to myself.

I find it very, very hard to cut this time short. I’ve thought about it a lot – is time awake really more restorative for me than sleep? Physically, it’s obviously not, and I’m not a happy person (or a very pleasant person) when I’m sleep-deprived. But I am a happy person when I get three hours to myself to do whatever I want.

Is there a better way? Probably. I’ve had success with an “Offline after 11” policy, which means I don’t stay up till the wee hours reading blogs anymore. I could bump that forward, at least on some nights. Or I could alternate early and late nights, but whenever I try to set a strict schedule like that I get derailed. So my main strategy is just hanging on till Doodlebug starts sleeping in until ten.

Or nine. I’d take nine at this point. Eight? Zzzzzzz.

— Kathy

tiffany_head_128I stood in the pediatrician’s parking lot, leaning into Dreamy and sobbing my head off. Not petite ladylike sobs, mind you, but guttural, heaving, movie-worthy sobs. It was February 2011 and seven-month old Señor Lunchbox had just been diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). He’d been coughing incessantly for three or four days and his doctor blithely delivered the news with a “Don’t worry, he’ll be fine.  It usually only lasts a week or so.”

Thus began one of the darkest, most terrifying parts of my life. What the pediatrician failed to grasp was that no one had slept – neither Dreamy, nor Lunchbox, nor I – for those three or four days. Lunchbox was so sick he was only able to sleep for about 45 minutes to an hour at a time before another fit of vicious hacking woke him and, by default, us, because when your child sounds like he’s strangling that kind of happens.

I was obviously deeply worried about Lunchbox, but at that moment, the idea of enduring for another seven or even more days without at least a few consecutive hours of rest pushed me over the edge. “I am so tired” was all I could manage to squeak out between sobs.

This tired was different than my usual tired. I have always been a crappy sleeper (apparently this is another trait of Highly Sensitive People) and although I love to sleep, I rarely feel rested even after nine or even ten hours in bed. I had survived two newborns and Lunchbox had acid reflux-related sleep issues from birth, thus feeling worn out and being sleep deprived weren’t exactly new experiences. This Super Sick Kid tired, however, was cruel and deep and unrelenting and further compounded by loops of endless mental what-if-ing.

The virus lasted for about ten days. My ability to function during this time was so impaired that I did a number of incredibly stupid things, such as drive a car and call my Very Important Boss insisting that a colleague had intentionally sabotaged a project. (Note to bosses everywhere: please don’t ever reprimand an employee for doing something like this when you know a sick child is involved. And when you’ve been kept in the loop about the situation the entire time.) I narrowly avoided crashing the car but succeeded at shooting myself in the foot at work.

Some introverts, including my personal hero Susan Cain, tentatively assert that we can get by on less sleep. Jonathan Rauch thinks that “For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.”  Neither of these seem quite right. Lunchbox’s illness taught me that I am ok with getting by on less, but at some point large blocks of sleep will be required to chip away at whatever sleep deficit has been created.

And while I have no data to support this claim, I am going to go ahead and say that introverts across the board require more sleep than extroverts. Sleep is the ultimate recharge; so if introverts require more recharging than extroverts, introverts without sleep are probably going to fry faster than an egg on a Foreman Grill.

— Tiffany

The Crazy, Hazy (But Definitely Not Lazy) Days of Summer

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince got it right in “Summertime”:

School is out and it’s a sort of a buzz

But back then I didn’t really know what it was

But now I see what have of this

The way that people respond to summer madness 

These months present challenges for parents everywhere.  School ends, schedules are disrupted, and madness can ensue.  How do the Introverted Moms cope?



Summer is no big deal to Señor Lunchbox.  He will wake up and go to school.  This is good because he desperately needs a structured environment.  Dreamy and I will wake up and go to work.  This is good because we need to keep our jobs.  Princess Slim will, on the other had, wake up and go somewhere new every week.  For her this summer will be one of constant adjustment to new routines, new places, and new people.  She bears the brunt of summer insanity, and it breaks my heart.

Princess Slim is signed up for seven — SEVEN — different camps this summer and I have two weeks left to fill.  Really hoping to draft some grandparents into service so the poor girl can sleep in late and have some down time once in awhile.  Guilt isn’t my thing, but  booking her into all these activities has made me feel guiltier than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.  Why?

Some of it is undoubtedly tied up with childhood memories of long stretches of unstructured time and the exhilarating sense of freedom felt upon finishing the school year.  Perhaps I need to let go of my expectations for these months and acknowledge my anxiety stems from the fact that I want summers back, the kind with long days and seemingly limitless choices.  These experiences were critical to my development, I think, and I desperately want Slim and Lunchbox to have these same types of opportunities.

As Kathy mentioned to me, however, these kinds of summers “aren’t possible any more for us.” And let’s be real:  even if I did have summers off I would still be looking for things to do with the kids, who most likely would not want to sit around and read all day.  Hello, adulthood calling.  Responsibility on lines one and two.  There is no going back, only forward, and I can’t let unrealistic expectations mess up my head.

The other guilt-inducing part is murkier.  As a mother, isn’t it my job to spend time with my kids? I find it impossible to reconcile my roles as Mom and Working Mom during the summer months.   My job is deathly quiet in the summer but I still have to show up and appear to be working even though I’d much rather be goofing off with Slim.

These thoughts hurl me into an ugly insecurity spiral:  what the hell are my priorities? Why do we live in an area where two incomes are required?  Kids are only young once, you know, and you are fracking it. all. up.  Why did you even have kids if you can’t spend time with them?  You are a terrible mother.

Ugh.  A solution must exist.  It may be as simple as taking a vacation day once every few weeks and declaring it “Slim and Mom” time.  It might be as complicated as changing careers (anybody need an English teacher?  I have no experience or certification but I sure do love words and books!).  This isn’t coping at all; it’s a mess. And I don’t like it one bit.

— Tiffany


I’m not very good at summer. I’m not talking about the heat, the humidity, the bugs, the sand, or the sunscreen, although I’m no good at them, either. I’m talking about the vast expanses of unstructured time.

This is pretty ironic, because, as an introvert, I’m all about the unstructured time. I need it, I crave it. If I had 10 weeks to myself… sorry, my head just exploded.

But managing Doodlebug’s summer is one of my biggest challenges as a parent. It’s gotten easier – iDad was still working in an office when she was small, so I basically resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t get any writing done until preschool started again in September. Now that he works at home we have much more flexibility, but it’s still complicated.

How much of Doodlebug’s time should be completely open? If we sign her up for camp, will she hate it? (Still smarting from the Art Camp Debacle of ’12.) When can she see her friends, who are all on different home/camp/vacation schedules? Do we get to take a vacation? When will iDad and I work? And how will I fit in my own downtime?

The last one, of course, is where I always get tripped up. As a kid, summer was a time for slowing down — sleeping in, reading, taking a break from the social pressures of school and being by myself for a change. But now that I’m a mom, summer is exactly when things ramp up. I feel like Doodlebug’s social director, carefully planning enough fun to keep her entertained but not over-committed.

We spend more time together, which is wonderful. During the school year, we only get about six hours of Doodlebug time a day. Most of that is rushing through our schedule, trying to hit our targets: breakfast, dropoff, pickup, dinner, homework, bedtime. I don’t miss that craziness. But that doesn’t change the fact that summer, with more emphasis on my Mom role, is draining for me.

I know, from past summers, that certain things do not work. Wide-open days with nothing planned? Cranky mom, cranky kid. Swapping half-work days with iDad? The blocks of time were too short to accomplish much, and we never spent time as a family. Vacation here, camp there, free week in between? No routine, and I thrive on routine (so do kids, I hear). Playground playdate + picnic lunch + berry picking + pool? After two days of that I would need a week off to recover.

So here’s what we’re trying this year. The first part of our summer is pretty open. We have one mini trip scheduled, and Doodlebug will be spending some long weekends with her grandparents (thank you, grandparents!). But when she’s home I will plan morning activities, either playtime with friends or excursions with me and/or iDad.

I want us to be home in the afternoons, though, and we’re going to try an after-lunch family reading time. Stealth school skills for Doodlebug, downtime for me. iDad is our pool parent, so hopefully they can fit in some water time in the late afternoons. More downtime for me. And if all else fails I will have my precious evening time.

Then comes the camp phase – Doodlebug and Princess Slim are signed up for four weeks of camp together, which I hope will solve the “But I don’t have any friennnnnds there!” issue from summers past. And I’m also hoping that grouping the camps in a block will let me get in several good weeks of writing. Taking that month-long break beforehand will give me a chance to organize my thoughts about my novel. Or so I’m telling myself.

After the camps we’ll have a family vacation and then one totally free week before school starts. I want to keep this as open as possible, both to give Doodlebug a chance to transition back to the school year schedule and to give us time to eat plenty of ice cream. I will let you know how it goes…

— Kathy


KathyThe transition from no baby to new baby can be a bumpy one for lots of reasons, but some of them are unique to introverts. In no particular order:

People will come over to your house. This is good, truly it is. Other people! People who don’t wear diapers or spit up on you. People who can communicate with words instead of shrieks. Sometimes they even bring you food, which is excellent.

But if you’re like me, your house is sort of your private sanctuary. It’s not the place where all the neighbors come and hang out. Certainly not while you’re trying to figure out how to feed a tiny person with food you’ve made with your own body. That was weird. But just know that the visiting phase doesn’t last forever. And that it’s perfectly fine not to answer if someone calls or rings the doorbell. Um, not that I ever did this.

Your baby will probably want to be held a lot. Babies just do. Doodlebug definitely did, and it was a big change to go from normal human contact to nearly-nonstop, 24/7 human contact.

So trade off with your spouse whenever you can. This is also where the visitors can come in handy – let your friend hold the baby while you take a shower. Let your mother-in-law try out the baby wrap you haven’t even gotten a chance to open yet. (Side note: if babywearing is not your thing, that is OKAY.) And if your baby refuses to be held by anyone but you, read on. Tiffany feels your pain.

Introverts are not good at switching gears or leaving a project before they’ve finished with it. Guess what – you will have to do that all the time with a baby (and with older kids, too).

Since I was at home with Doodlebug, it was vital for me to have “off-the-clock” time where someone else was in charge and I could set my own pace. At first it was just a twenty-minute trip to the grocery store, alone, while my mom babysat. Later it was going to the library to write while Doodlebug and iDad hung out for the afternoon. Family is great. Babysitters are great. Preschool is great. School is really, really great.

Moms’ groups. They’re everywhere – at the hospital, in your neighborhood, for nursing moms, for working moms, etc etc. I tried to embrace the concept, really I did, but it was just not me. I didn’t want to go and be with people I barely knew when I was already busy with my baby, who I barely knew! So I will go ahead and say that you do not have to join a moms’ group.

Having mom friends is key, though – I spent a ton of time with one friend whose son is a few months younger than Doodlebug, and that was just right for me. Plus, now there’s Facebook and Twitter, which can function as your own virtual moms’ group from the comfort of your own home. And, of course, you know you are always welcome here.

On the blog. Not at my house. If you ring the doorbell, I reserve the right to pretend I’m not home.

— Kathy

tiffany_head_128I definitely believe introverts have a more difficult time adjusting to motherhood. In my case I am fairly certain one of the after effects of giving birth was a bad case of agoraphobia, particularly after Señor Lunchbox arrived.

Señor Lunchbox had acid reflux and slept in roughly 20 minute blocks the first months of his life (no, really.  I timed them).  Everybody was tired but as the parent on maternity leave my primary job was to take care of him.    It took ages for us to figure out the reflux situation, get the proper medication, and for it to start working.  He finally began sleeping better.

When he was awake, however, it was Mommy or nothing. Not Dreamy, not a bouncy seat or special pillow or sling or swing or any of those “soothe your newborn” gadgets. If I put him down to eat, he screamed, and if I dared to pee or just wanted to have my arms back for a few minutes, he screamed. The lack of physical space was smothering and became increasingly difficult to manage. I didn’t love Señor Lunchbox any less but there were days when I wondered how I was going to make it through. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I did.

There were other reasons I stuck close to home. Both Princess Slim and Señor Lunchbox are summer babies and it was boiling hot in the weeks after they were born. On cool mornings I would take them out but only for a quick stroller-spin around the block or to lounge on the patio.

Also, after Señor Lunchbox was born, Dreamy took the Good Car to work and I had the Beater Car. I love the Beater but it has half an airbag and dodgy air conditioning. I didn’t feel exactly secure about placing a newborn in the back seat, hopping on the highway, and hoping for the best. And where would I have gone, exactly? The mall to look at clothes I couldn’t fit in to? A library or museum with a howling, projectile-vomiting baby? No, thanks.

Now I realize my inability to leave the house wasn’t really about the heat, or the car; had I wanted to go out I could have made something work. The real issue was my non-existent energy level. Monitoring one’s energy level is critical to introvert self-care, and mine was so low that I simply could not deal with the stress of being around other people. One tiny person consumed every bit of emotional, mental, and physical energy I had. “We’re on vapor, Cougar,” from the movie “Top Gun” pretty much sums it up. I was the next smallest state of matter after vapor.

The lesson learned is this:  contrary to all the instincts that activate upon becoming a mom or dad introverts must take care of themselves first to be good parents.  99% of the time you’ll be able to put everyone’s needs before yours; it’s that 1%, however, to which you must pay attention to avoid depleting your energy reserves.  Ignore your need to recharge and you might end up like Cougar, out of fuel and panicking as you try to land your jet on the aircraft carrier.   Without anything in your tank things can get scary fast and you may not have it in you to pull up before crashing onto the deck.

How did I pull out of the tailspin?  That’s a subject for another post.



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.