Introverts be warned, parenting is an increasingly social event

I took away two main points for the birthing and baby preparation class I attended before the birth of my first daughter — that it was my job to count contractions, and that parenting can be lonely and isolating.

Both of them turned out to be wrong.

My wife’s emergency C-section meant my counting skills were not required, and parenting turned out to be way more social than I ever could have imagined.

This is as quiet as it gets.

Of course, it wasn’t immediately apparent that parenting was so social when my daughter was a newborn. Being confined to the house with a baby is enough to make even the most introverted introvert want to throw a party.

But then the kindergarten years start and, before you can say “Google Calendar” you’re expected to attend all manner of gatherings and learn the names of not just your child’s new friends, but their parents and their siblings.

And just when you’re starting to get your head around every kids’ allergy profile, your kid starts school which brings a whole new cohort of people to meet, names to remember, and topics that you need to steer clear of based on the politics and parenting style of each family.

There is small talk at school assembly and endless events and functions that the school puts on to welcome new parents and make them feel included. Even when you’re no longer a new parent you’re encouraged to attend to welcome the newbies and indoctrinate them into the cult of parent socialising.

They mean well, they really do. But if you’ve read between the lines, you may have picked up that I’m an introvert. It’s not that I don’t like people or social events. It’s just that I don’t get energised by it. It’s exhausting, especially when it’s at the end of the day I’ve used up all my social beans.

My wife, also an introvert, even ordered a T-shirt online that reads “Sorry I’m late. I didn’t want to come”. She hasn’t worn it to a school function yet, but it’s a sentiment I can readily sign up to — not least when my daughter came home begging to go on the dad and kids’ camp effectively meaning that not only would I have to talk to people during the day, but also into the night.

And it isn’t just school social obligations that drains the life out of introverts. Then there are your children you have to socialise with. Everyday!

Something they neglected to put in the IVF brochure is that a couple of introverts are able to reproduce extraverts. In my wife and my case, we managed to produce not one, but two, extroverted children.

After a birthday party where our daughter restricted her invitation list to her 25 “close friends” and we felt so drained from the social interaction we were in need of downtime for a week, we pondered if perhaps there was a mix-up in the hospital. Both times.

I love my girls dearly and there isn’t anyone in the world I’d rather spend time with, but on some days my wife and I have run out of our daily quota of words by about 10.30am. Undeterred, our extroverted girls continue to talk about everything under the sun until bedtime.

Pretty much every parenting book you pick up mentions the importance of spending quality time with our children. We need to be more present and talk to our kids. And messages frequently come home from school extolling the educational benefits of parent’s involvement in the school community.

In principle, I’m on board. But at the same time, I’m constantly torn between the parent I want to be and the introvert that I am.

Christopher Scanlon is the author of The Chess Raven Chronicles under the pen name Violet Grace.

Source: Read Full Article