My daughter was born into this world butting into other people's conversations, as if she'd been doing it in the womb. To call her an extrovert is an understatement, and honestly, I'm not sure where she gets it from. My partner's somewhat the same, but not on our daughter's level. Being the complete opposite myself definitely raises a few challenges, too. In fact, there are a significant number of struggles of an introvert mom raising an extrovert kid — including having to put myself out there into the world as much as my daughter does, at times, and even when it's most uncomfortable — that I've just come to accept.
I've always been an introvert, though, in my younger years, I was able to pull the extrovert side of me (buried somewhere in the depths of my being) as needed. Looking back, I don't know how I did it. Parties, group gatherings, school projects — you name it — I managed to get through every instance with the ease a naturally outgoing person might automatically exude. Deep down, though, putting myself out there so boldly has always been terrifying. I'd much rather hide in the corner in total silence, or let others lead conversations, because when I try to put myself out there it never comes out right. It's just not me.
While I own my introvert characteristics and how awkward I may come across to others, raising a daughter on the opposite side of things can be supremely stressful. Not only does she force me out of my usual comfort zones, but I'm always afraid I'll unintentionally hold her back from reaching her full potential. For example, I don't want to be the reason she can't hang in groups. It's a lot of pressure to fight everything my insides tell me to do, and do what my daughter needs me to do. With that, here's some of the struggles introverted moms raising extroverted kids might have to deal with on the daily.
Arranging Playdates Are The Worst
Of course I want my kids to have friends, but if it means being the parent who has to take that critical first step in communication for a play date, nope. I'm not one for talking on the phone anyway, but if my extroverted daughter comes home from school with a phone number and name for me to call and set up a time for our kids to get together, I may "accidentally" lose that number before I ever call. No offense to anyone involved, but if my daughter wants friends, she's old enough to get the details worked out on her own. No need to include me (except to ask when/where). If someone wants to talk to me directly, this is what text messages and email are for.
School Functions Induce Anxiety
Even living in a small town where everyone knows everyone, anytime we have school functions to attend I dread them. I love that my daughter has no problem detaching from my hip so she can run towards her group of friends during these engagements, but at the same time, I sure hopes she comes back soon. Without her next to me to talk to whoever ends up next to us, I have no one to hide behind when conversation strikes. I need someone chatty to hide behind, and if it's not my partner it's my daughter. Me? Talk? Who do you think I am?
My Kid Always Wants To Talk To Strangers
I'd love to go grab a coffee in complete silence (unless it's my favorite local joint), but my daughter (and sometimes my son), will approach the person in front of or behind us to either stare or ask a random question. I appreciate their curiosity and kindness, but for just a few minutes of the day, can we not have the "don't talk to strangers" conversation (especially before I'm caffeinated)?
There's No Down Time
The thing about extroverts is that they thrive off other people's energy. I, on the other hand, do not. At all. Actually, I thrive off quiet and alone time. My daughter's never understood this about me, or any other introvert for that matter, so we've had a lot of discussions about boundaries and personal space. This happens most the moment I wake up when she's ready to talk about everything possible in life and while I'm barely coherent. Over the years I've come to accept there's no down time, ever, unless I take a few to hide in the bathroom. I'm not even sorry about it.
Your Kid Is Nosey
If there's a conversation anywhere in the vicinity, my little extrovert will seek it out and poke her nose into it. I'm grateful she knows how to work a room, but not only can it be embarrassing if the other people aren't receptive, but it's kind of annoying. Can't we just go somewhere without having to interrupt other people's good time?
Schedules Get Wonky
Extroverts, like my girl, often want to stay at a party longer than planned, or linger when doing the most mundane tasks if other people are involved. Basically, the girl can talk, and when she's talking the clock in her mind stops turning. For someone like me (I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), schedules and keeping on task are very important, so when my kid holds us up because she and her friends were discussing something "pressing" (i.e. who they're crushing on), I internally lose it.
Turning Down Invitations Is Hard To Explain
With school-aged kids, there's always something one of them is invited to. Parties, sleepovers, play dates — whatever — and sometimes, I have to turn them down. It's overwhelming to have (what feels like) people shouting at me to be here or there at specific times, especially when all I want to do is stay home. I want my kids to participate as often as possible, but as an introvert who prefers to avoid these scenarios, there comes a point where, for the sake of my sanity, I have to take a hard pass.
Going Out Sounds Unappealing
Not only am I an introvert, I'm a major homebody and proud of it. I did the going out thing a lot more during my younger years, so now? Yeah, now I'm not into it. I like snuggling up on the couch in my cozy pajamas as opposed to going through all the effort for a few hours of "fun" (which usually turns out to be a night full of anxiety and me wondering when I can leave).
My daughter loves to go places so she can be around other people. I try to accommodate her, but honestly I'd much rather we take a quick spin around the block, wave at all the neighbors, and head back inside.
There's Never Enough Stimulation
My extrovert daughter can watch a show, play on her iPod, talk to me, and listen to music at the same time. She doesn't do well in a quiet room, or alone, and — OMG — I really, really need a quiet room and to be a lone sometimes. I can't recharge without those things, actually. Being the parent of a kid who needs so much stimulation to function can be exhausting, usually because I run out of ways to give her what she needs. Even when we're electronic-free and she's spending time with friends, there's no off switch.
Her being an extrovert is another way of having such a zest for life, she craves being immersed in it as much as possible. When I think of it this way, while challenging, I wouldn't want it any other way.