taken in Santa Cruz while on a 24 hour hiatus with my friend Elena, sans kids & hubby
My dear friend Lisa posted this interesting article on introverts yesterday. As previously mentioned here in this little blogospheric space, I am into personality types and find the whole subject-matter fascinating. Especially ironic in that I, an ESFJ, married an INTP in the world of Myers Briggs testing. You don’t need to know the whole ins and outs of the test itself to see that each of our four letters are opposing. And that means that we’re both pretty different. In fact, as different as the test can determine. But I love that. I think that we are perfectly matched though. We approach the world and life and people and work and parenting in different ways, but all the fun stuff seems to be pretty similar. From art to travel to what’s really important in life (French Roast coffee, obviously), we tend to be right in sync. I think that our kids will benefit from these core differences, but “taste” similarities. That, or they’ll pit us against each other to get what they want. Hmmm…..more on that in 10 years.
Anyhow, I’m an extrovert. As a parent, however, I find myself much less extroverted than previously in the sense that I am not energized by groups of people anymore. I am just tired these days. My friend Suzanna described this phenomenon so clearly today, that I’m just going to send you to her blog to get a sense of WHY my undereyes are always black, my hair disheveled, my words incoherent. And due to this current stage of life, I find I don’t just crave, I REQUIRE, alone time.
I have been reading countless books and blog posts on engaging fully with your children. Putting down the ipad, cell phone, email to be emotionally, physically, fully present. I agree with this philosophy and see the amazing benefits. It just makes sense. Who wants their kids to grow up believing that their parents’ computer or cell phone is literally an apendedge??
But I noticed something today. And it came in the weirdest of ways and places. I had nothing on the calendar and was a little fearful what the boys and I might do to each other if left to our own devices. Thrilled at a picnic playdate, we jetted off to Washington Park to meet up with friends for a bit. About 15 minutes in, I noticed a lovely brown streak and odor coming off of Alex. He had been crawling around with his Viking Ship and crawled in dog poo. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Love these moments. Of course. Only 3 wipes in the diaper bag. No extra clothes. Crawling infant. Anxiety ridden dog. These are the times when one is grateful for friends who can cover while you’re cleaning up life’s messes.
Anyhow, once we eventually got home, I stuck Alex in the tub and closed the doors on Drew in the play room while I tried to clean up the many messes. Drew contentedly played with his toys for over an hour (I joined him after 10 minutes of cleaning, don’t worry, Grandmas….). Alex played rocketship in the tub and then got out, got dressed and built an 2 story house with his loft bed for an hour.
I might have been a teacher, even with preschoolers for a year, but I don’t really know the ins and outs of child development.
But what does this all say about “alone time”??
Do we all need it, extroverted or not?
Are we more creative and resourceful when left to our own devices?
Do we push through frustrations and dead ends when we have no one to fall back on?
And how does this all relate to children?
Alone time just isn’t going to be in my vocabulary or reality for the next year or so, no doubt. Alex craves “close to people” time 24/7. He is as creative as all get out, but needs someone shoulder-to-shoulder creating alongside him. That coupled with a mobile infant/toddler who NEEDS constant supervision to keep from dirt ingesting, complete house destruction, and injury, makes for a very active existence.
And yet—-I am trying to maintain a few SAFE, alone moments for each of us. My gut, developmental theories aside, is that it is important and necessary, whether introvert or extrovert. That this time alone does indeed lead to more creativity, balance, and sanity.
When wondering about this whole concept, it is pretty comforting that even Jesus, who is perfect, being in relationship with God, still needed to take time away, to be alone. In Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” This little passage comes right after Jesus has been on a healing marathon. And right before he is off to calm the stormy seas, and freaked out disciple passengers. Not much of a break….because frankly, when people needed him, wanted to be in communion with him, he didn’t say no to them. He was all about people and loving them. Even when it was “inconvenient” or when he was taking a break. Rather sobering to see that Jesus’ break was to pray, not watch “Project Runway” on Hulu.com while nursing a cup of ice water with lemon slices. DANG. But, breaks, he took. To refocus. Re-connect. Re-energize. Breathe.
And now that this little patootie is TEN MONTHS (how did that happen????), I’m going to try and find that balance for all of us too. Alone time to ground each of us, in our different stages of life. Helps me appreciate the gifts of family and community all the more and have enough bandwidth to actually laugh about dog poop mishaps, rather than cry. Happy Ten Months, Drew….so grateful to spend lots and lots of TOGETHER time with you, sweet bunny.