Adoption, Attachment, and the Introvert

I am a classic introvert, which means that if I don’t get sufficient time alone, I start to get a little, ahem, edgy. Tonight I came unglued in the shower when I discovered that there was only half a head’s worth of conditioner left, and there was no way to get the new bottle except to get out, soaking wet, put on a robe, and go to the living room and get the new bottle I purchased yesterday. I may have stomped a little bit on the way. I might have been a little childish. I might still, an hour later, even after my husband did the work of putting Zinashi to bed, be a little bit crabby about it. I might hold a grudge until I can clear up which conditioner belongs to whom and say something childish about no one touching my stuff.

But it shouldn’t be a surprise to me that I feel this way. Not about the conditioner, but just about, I-don’t-even-know, things that are not that important. I just need space, and as much as I struggled with that as simply half of a couple, I struggle with it on a much larger scale now. To give my daughter what she needs, to give myself up to the work of attachment, I sacrifice personal space a lot of the time. And when my husband is home, as much as he can be helpful with Zinashi, and as much as I usually enjoy being hanging out with him, it’s also one more person in my space. And I go a little nuts from time to time.

I don’t have a good solution for this one just yet. But maybe you do. Maybe you are an introvert mom who has figured this one out. Maybe you have a system for a certain time each week that everyone but you must leave the house, or maybe you have a big enough house that you can go somewhere and have no one in your way, or maybe you just built yourself a shed in the backyard and that’s working out really well for you. Or maybe, just maybe (please let it not be this one, oh please), you somehow just figured out how to let it go. If you’ve stood in my shoes and figured out something that works out well for everyone, that doesn’t leave your children or your husband feeling neglected, I’d like to hear from you.

In the meantime, I’ll be out back, building a little shed for myself and nursing my conditioner related grudges.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Adoption, Attachment, and the Introvert

  1. Liz

    Oh please, if someone tells you how they do it – share it with me! Because I am exactly the same way, and it really came as a surprise to me. I mean, I knew I needed my space and my alone time, just as you describe, but I was surprised that having a child in my space feels like such an intrusion – I just didn’t expect that!

    It helped a little when I went back to work, maybe at some point Zinash could go to pre-school for a few hours per week so you can have some time?

  2. Liz

    PS – I guess what has also helped me is waking up insanely early to get my “me” time – I had already been up for an hour when I made that last comment! Elfe won’t be awake for another half hour or so…

  3. sarahrosangela

    Rebecca Woolf gave the best advice on momversation a while back when she said, “I am the best possible mother when I am the happiest version of myself.” I’ve found that I have to leave my house to get that space. Or sometimes I find it on a walk with my daughter, when I can put her in the stroller and my headphones on.

  4. Joy

    Hmm, I`d be interested in suggestions too (and thanks for posting – glad to know I`m not the only one who might sulk and whine just a *little* from time to time about things like conditioner situations). I sometimes feel like I need an abnormal amount of quiet, down time, and personal space. My dogs hover as if drawn to me by magnetic force, and even that just puts me over the edge sometimes (boy, I miss that greyhound of mine – we got each other – check in for some love, go our separate ways for a while, hang out together in silence. Ahh). I want to be a parent, and hope that will happen, but I have to stop myself from panicking at the thought of having a very dependent person with me 24 hours a day. I hope my strong inclination toward attachment-oriented parenting will help balance out my introverted tendencies!

  5. Kim

    I dream of building a shed in the backyard. I have a big house and it’s still not enough. I have 4 children. I hate to say it out loud, but the twins put me over the edge. Pharmaceuticals help only a little. Homeschooling makes it worse, but it’s the best choice for the kids. I try to take continuing education classes as I can afford them just to get out of the house to feel like I’ve accomplished something *I* wanted to do.

  6. Emily K.

    It is very difficult for awhile. There’s really no getting around that, although knowing yourself, accepting that it’s who you are, and trying to find simple solutions is a great start. Your solution won’t always be the same thing. Look at your schedule for the week and give yourself one thing to look forward to, even if it’s a bath, a nap, or a cup of coffee alone while your husband takes Z for a walk. When my kids were little and extremely needy, I had a weekly book club that was a lifesaver. Then even the book club seemed too much, and I had to change what I did for sanity. I used to get up early and swim laps at the gym. These days, I just want to be home, puttering around, and I turn off my phone and computer and force myself to ignore the to-do list. Trust that there’s nothing wrong with your way of being, trust that your kid got the exact mother she was supposed to get, and trust that eventually things will be much easier. You are likely to end up with a little girl who wants nothing more than a quiet day to herself as well.

  7. So, my husband and I are introverts, but he more so than me. During the first 7 years of our relationship, he needed regular “me” time. He’d spend hours in the bathroom, taking hot baths or lying on the floor and reading/napping. Occasionally, we’d both need “me” time and one of us would go check in to a hotel for a night or two.

    Since the birth of our daughter, his need for me time has gone way down. I find myself asking, “Don’t you want to go take a bath?” Sometimes as a hint. I was having a really hard time when I went back to work after my daughter was born because I felt like I had no free time. Then I identified that I had a 20 min. commute each way and that could be my time, spent how I pleased and that helped. When I became unemployed and a full-time parent, that was rough, until she started going to day care two days a week. I relish my days off.

    So, I guess my advice is to take “me” time when you need it, even if it’s 5 minutes, and find something you really love doing and that makes you feel rejuvenated to do during that time. Being an introvert is okay, needing “me” time is okay and taking “me” time is okay – being grumpy at others is not (something I still very much need to work on).

    I’d hug you, but we don’t really know each other.

  8. I’m not an introvert but I feel this exact same way a lot. We give so much of ourselves as mothers and it’s hard – especially when we had a full rewarding life before. I still haven’t found a way to balance myself. I’d really like to exercise but I can’t even figure out how. My husband travels a lot and I work – I feel like I’m just getting by. Good luck and if you do find the answer, let us all know!

  9. Oh, this is so hard! I’m guessing it is especially hard with adopting a toddler. Since I had a newborn, I got to gradually experience the increase in neediness from 0 months to 20 months. Being at home with a newborn didn’t tax my introvert much at all. A toddler, on the other hand….

    I asked my husband to play with our little guy in another part of the house for 20-30 minutes each evening. They would go wrestle downstairs, and I would stay upstairs and have some quiet time. This didn’t actually happen everyday, but we averaged 2-3 days a week, which helped a lot.

    I was also blessed with a child who slept very, very well for 12 hours a night, so after my kiddo went to bed my husband and I could watch a movie together or have some individual time alone.

    I’m also finding that I can find introverted happiness in new places. Zumba class, the grocery store, a coffee shop — places that might have been exhausting in the past now seem like a refuge!

    I love reading about your sweet family! Thank you for sharing.

  10. Becky

    I have this issue in a major way. I do a couple of things:
    1.) Every Thursday night is Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve finally trained my family to leave me alone while I go to my bedroom, sit on my bed, fold laundry (I feel too guilty if I just sit there and do nothing), and watch TV for one hour.

    2.) I go more and more sleep deprived everyday because I get up 30-45 minutes before everyone else does. 30 minutes of peaceful bliss to check emails/facebook… or just veg out drinking a cup of coffee with a good book. I do not do work, think about the day (that’s the hard part).

    My four children will call me “Momzilla” if I don’t get my scheduled alone time!!

  11. Oh man!! I’m so glad you wrote about this! I know that I will feel the same way. I’m definitely an introvert :/

  12. Emily K.

    Obviously you touched on an issue that all of us deal with, introverts or not, adoptive parents or not. I have been thinking about this a lot today.

    Being occasionally edgy is not the end of the world. Of course we always aim to be kind to our partners, but of course, we aren’t, and they forgive us. Children can learn to forgive, too. I don’t mean to condone verbal abuse in any way, but I actually think it’s healthy that children see the full range of emotions, including frustration! I think my kids are comforted by the fact that I’m human too, and prone to the occasional snarl about conditioner or what-have-you. You are, after all, family. Families accept each other. Families get over stuff and take care of each other and move on.

  13. findingmagnolia

    Wow! Thank you all so much for your responses! Hearing from so many who struggle with the same thing is a comfort to me; it helps to know that I’m not the only one who loses it sometimes. You all had so many wise words and good ideas, and I am grateful to hear all of them.

    I have so many more thoughts about this that I’m going to post something of a follow-up tomorrow or Thursday. Writing about it helps me sort it all out in my head, and ultimately gives me a little more peace. Thanks for listening and responding. This was so good for me.

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  15. I became a runner. I got out, most days. Running is relatively mindless (left foot right foot left foot right foot, repeat ad nauseum). It relieves stress. It made me feel less like running away, which (with 2 RAD children), I spent a great deal of time daydreaming about. No one was with me (and thus no one was talking to me). I could listen to music with bad words in it, which was very cathartic. I was tired and slept better at night.

  16. Katy

    DAYUM! I wish I could become a runner or get up an hour earlier than my kids but those things just ain’t gonna happen any time soon. My husband, I have learned, is entirely dependent on others for his self-worth. He would never ever go to a movie alone. He would never BE alone if he could help it. He intellectually understands that I like to be alone, but I can see it hurt his feelings every time I suggest that he go out for a beer with so and so. It is hard. I think marriage is harder at times than others, and this is a huge issue for us. Basically, when he’s around, if he would just do everything that I say, my way, at exactly the time that I want it done, everything would be just fine. Good luck.

  17. A

    Yes! I love being at home alone in my space too. I get a sitter to take my kid to the park/library/mall/restaurant so I can just be at home alone for a bit and restore my sanity! Or even just to play with her in one room while I almost lock myself in another room in the house and they are not to come by unless there is a fire 🙂

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