This is Becoming an Introvert Mom Series or Something, So I Hope You Like It

Also titled: Adoption, Attachment, and the Introvert: Part Three

It turns out that when you lift your child, carry your child, and wrestle your child into mittens from time to time, it does not, in fact, work out all your arm muscles. I know that now that I have not-so-triumphantly returned to working out. Today. And my arms already hurt. What will tomorrow be like, do you think? Will I be able to steer the car to make it to the holiday gathering we are expected to attend? Maybe.

It struck me today as I was tying my workout shoes that I give a lot of thought to my daughter’s readiness for new tasks, but not to mine. I mean, I might toss around “being able to do (fill in the blank)” or “not ready to (fill in the blank again),” but the truth is that I’m not very purposeful about observing my own limits. Thus, I often find myself feeling rushed and overwhelmed. This didn’t occur to me until I realized that the only area of my life in which I’ve learned to observe readiness is when it comes to whatever exercise I happen to be doing, and the only reason I am so observant is that I’ve learned the hard way how to honor my own physical limits. Years of running marathons (specifically this marathon) and a follow-up of yoga gave me a good sense of what my body can handle, how to read the cues and respond accordingly. But somewhere along the way I missed the part about observing what my mind and my emotions and my spirit can handle. I end up expecting a lot of myself and experience a pendulum swing between pushing too hard, too soon, and not pushing at all, unable to settle in the middle.

But I think this takes practice. It took years of practice to know my limits with running, to be able to accept my own body’s capabilities in yoga (this is an extra special challenge for those of us born with limited flexibilty, for while others are folding themselves into origami shapes, we are simply trying to touch our toes and feel good about that), so it follows that the same would be true for the rest of my person. And when I am in relationship with others, be it with my daughter or my husband or extended family and friends, it lends a complexity that takes practice on all our parts before we can honor our limits and our capabilities.

One thing that struck me this week as I found myself yearning to exercise, was that exercise–the very thing that teaches me to honor my “edge” as they put it in yoga–is what also helps me to honor my edge in my relationships. As an introvert, I crave solitude and space to recharge. I need a feeling of being separate sometimes. So while wearing my daughter on long walks gives a physical workout and gives her something she needs, it misses the component of giving me a feeling of where I stop and others begin. It lacks the boundary I need as a person, and in particular as an introvert. So while it’s an excellent bonding tool, and might be a nice supplement to other physical activity, it just won’t cut the mustard as way to help restore my sanity.

The problem up to this point is that I simply wasn’t ready to exercise aside from carrying my daughter, and I knew that, and honored that, but didn’t take into account that my lack of readiness to exercise would mean that I needed to either find my boundaries in other ways or just accept the higher-than-usual level of tension. Either would have worked, but the former would probably have been better. Like so many new parents, I was just trying to make it through to the next task on the next day and remember to put my groceries in the freezer and pay my bills, so I didn’t give much thought to this. Now I know better for next time. Of course I say that in hindsight, with one good workout behind me, and confidence that this really will work with our life as a family. I say that with endorphins rushing through my body, with the re-found sense of where my boundaries lie.

It feels good to have moved forward one more step. It feels easier to be the kind of mother I want to be to my daughter. It feels like there is hope and promise because if I can fit in what I haven’t been able to fit in for months, who knows what I’ll be ready to add in next? Frankly, I’m hoping it will be something along the lines of organizing the basement properly.

A mom can dream, right?

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