I used to think that I was an introvert; not the too-afraid-to-speak-up kind of introvert, but someone who didn't always seem to fit in, in a vague sort of way, a squarish peg in an almost round hole, close to fitting, but still not lining up in quite the right way. I loved to have time to myself to read, listen to music, think my own thoughts. I would even go to the movies by myself, if I really wanted to see the movie. People, who needs 'em? I could be socially comfortable in large groups, but I didn't usually prefer it. Dinner with some friends would always win out over a large party.
After almost seven long years of being a stay-at-home/working-at-home mom, I have come to realize that isolation has taken its steady toll upon my psyche. Days pass with conversations that revolve, almost exclusively, around the subject of why sticking a fork into an electrical socket is not a good idea and how if I hear one more rude tone of voice spoken in my direction the sky will fall down upon someone's head. After many looks of stony silence are issued and general order is restored, I then get the privilege of re-telling, in gory details, the day's misadventures to my spouse as an explanation for my grumpy demeanor. Isn't he lucky not to miss out on anything? After all, we wouldn't want him to feel left out of the joys of raising children, would we?
But, back to my original premise.....
I used to think that I always felt emotionally fatigued simply because I was never truly alone. I would wake up to children crawling into my bed at 6:30am and, from that point forward, be "on-call" for the rest of the day. My time was never truly my own because, even during nap time, there is always the uncertainty of how long the nap will last, and if it would be deep enough to warrant the ability to start on a noisy home renovation project uninterrupted. I told myself that once they were in school, and my time was my own, I would feel much better and be re-energized.
The problem is; it hasn't happened. My youngest started attending a pre-school program last fall that gives me about two and a half hours of uninterrupted time alone each day, and I still feel somewhat adrift.
Staying home presents unique challenges. One of the greatest is the constant need for self-motivation. Your schedule is wide open and it's up to you to figure out how use it. When inspiration and motivation are wed, it can be a very empowering and wonderful thing, but when they divorce you're left with apathy and a rut bigger than the Grand Canyon. It can be exhausting to try and make yourself be productive when you have used up all your at-home adrenaline. With no one else around to make you laugh, give you an encouraging word, or plop some piece of busy-work in your lap, it is very easy to slide into a slightly depressed, dissatisfied state. You wonder about your purpose in life, you feel guilty that you're not doing something "more productive," and generally feel isolated.
Now, with so much time alone, I realize that I miss people. I can be funny (really, I can!) and I miss taking part in conversations and saying something particularly witty. I miss the silliness that happens in the workplace with co-workers that you have known for some time. I miss being able to have tasks that are easily identifiable, readily accomplished, and obvious to quantify, as opposed to my nebulous task of raising good, intelligent, productive human beings. How will I know when I accomplish that task? By the time they're old enough for me to evaluate my success in that arena, the damage will be done and I will have no recourse to fix the various mistakes I made. Ah, the uncertainty of it all.
So now, on all those personality quizzes that I have taken over the years, I think that I will have to change my classification. I like people. I need people. I have been a closet extrovert all these years.
Well, I'm coming out of the closet baby! My new goal for 2007 is to find meaningful ways to be involved with people outside of my family and to start having fun again. That may not seem like a big deal, but as adults, making new friends is quite difficult. Without the common bonding experiences of school, work, and having children, meeting new people is no easy task. I am going to think of different ways that I can step out of my little box and reach out to the world I have been mentally secluded from for so long.
Maybe I'll come up with a plan of action to post later on. Until then.