Over the past few days I’ve been struggling to accept that I might be more introverted than I ever imagined. Or at least I’m more bound to routine than I’ve ever wanted to admit.
I find it interesting that it’s sort of a big deal for me to say this. It’s even more interesting that I somehow feel bad about it, or bad about myself because of it. Why is that?
That other long arm: Guilt
Mean Old Guilt is always a good one to point the first finger at. When I get tired of being around my kids day in and day out, I secretly worry that I must not be a good mom, or that my attitude will permanently scar them. Growing weary of the girls feels wrong, especially in light of how often I so desperately miss them, as I’ve written about before (in this post and this one). Why can’t I just be grateful for every single moment I have with them? (Insert self-kicking here.)
Guilt doesn’t limit itself to nuclear families, of course. The extended family provides an ideal environment for guilt to take root and grow. Of course I was relieved on Saturday when the last of our visiting family had finally packed up and gone home, and I could restore the dining room table back to its usual size and be more successful at estimating how many eggs we’d go through in a morning. (“What? We’re out of eggs again?”)
And, of course I felt guilty about feeling so relieved that all those people we love were gone. The fact that Jason and I have extra wonderful families that we genuinely enjoy spending time with multiplies the guilt somehow—like I have no right to grow weary of having extra people who love me around the house. (Insert more self-ridicule here.)
Self-image and reality don’t always line up
But I don’t think I can blame it all on guilt. I think there’s another infamous culprit at work: Self-image. I like to think of myself as a certain kind of person, and I don’t like having that image thrown off. For instance, I pride myself in being a people-person who’s always up for fun and interaction, conversation and house guests. Ultimately, I think I still am that person, by nature. I just need more refueling time than I used to, so I need to recognize and take care of that.
The other part of how I want to see myself—as a free-wheeling, spontaneous, up-for-anything kind of gal—is probably not something I can really claim. In fact, when my routines get thrown too far out of whack for too many days in a row, I’m a lot like a grouchy toddler whose meal and nap schedule has been thrown off. I need to admit it and round up some coping strategies.
Whatever it is that makes me feel bad about needing a routine and some alone time, I’m working on coming to terms with it. Because there’s no denying: After I sent the girls out the door to school yesterday, I was a super happy freelance writer in a quiet house, sitting at the dining room table in sweats, drinking coffee and diving back into my work routine. And being happy about that is perfectly fine.