Been too long…

Poor abandoned blog...

My poor neglected blog… I can almost see the tumbleweeds blowing through. It’s not quite at the stage of the house in the photo, but close… maybe not, but it has been a long time since I’ve blogged here. I really need to get back to it.

For all new new readers who have stumbled here since my last post, a bit about me.

  • I am an introvert, though a lot of people don’t realise that about me
  • I am the single mother of 2 boys, now aged 10 and 12
  • I had post and ante natal depression with both boys
  • We live in Australia

I’m hoping to get back to blogging here. For all those introverts who are struggling with the relentlessness of the toddler years, things to get better as the kids get older, although there are other challenges – such as small talk at the school gate!

I’d love to hear the sorts of topics you’d like to read about here and the issues that would be most helpful. This will help this blog be relevant and interesting as well as give me topics to blog about.

Here’s to a happy and bloggy 2014!

Bonding?

Bonding? What is it?

Bonding? What is it?

One of the words that I hear from a lot of Mums is “bonding”. This is something I don’t understand, and a lot of that has to do with my personality – I know this now.

When I was a new mother, I thought there was something wrong with me…

I was too scared to ask anyone what they were talking about as I thought it would make me a Bad Mum. From what I’ve read, bonding has a lot to do with sitting with your baby. For me, this was boring.

I remember friends and family coming over and insisting I sit down and cuddle my baby while they would hang out the washing or run to the supermarket for me. I would much prefer if they would sit with the baby so I could do those jobs. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to express this. I needed a break from my baby and the chance to do something else.

I’m still trying to work out what people mean when they talk about bonding. Recently my 9 year old was seeing a psychologist for school refusal issues and I was asked about bonding. For the first time I was able to say to a professional that I had no idea what they were talking about. It was comforting to express this and not have someone make fun of me – which is what I was afraid of.

My kids are older now, and we have a great relationship. This lack of time spent gazing at them when they were babies hasn’t made our relationship any less. If anything, understanding that baby gazing just isn’t my thing is making me a better Mum now.

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

When I was pregnant, and even before that, I read articles and heard new Mums talking about the love they felt when they had a new baby. Most of the comments went along the lines of how there was a rush of love and they had never felt any love like that before. Then they would go on to talk about the bond they felt with their baby and how wonderful that was.

I had no idea what they were talking about, even now that I have had two kids, I still don’t understand what they are talking about. I have no doubt that I love my kids, I just never felt the rush of love that was mentioned in these articles, and talks and even in Mother’s Group. This led me to believe that I was doing something wrong.

Why wasn’t I feeling the way everyone said I was supposed to feel? Did I have a bond with my baby? Did I even love my baby because I wasn’t feeling the way everyone talked about? What was wrong with me?

As I write this, my kids are 9 and 11, and I often joke that I’m still waiting for these feelings to come through. I know now that a lot of this is is to do with my personality and I simply don’t feel like that. It’s quite hard to explain, but that’s just the way I am.

The day after Mr N was born, I remember sitting in the hospital while he was sleeping in his crib and I reached for a magazine to read. It was one that I had received in the Bounty bags and was full of stories of new parents. There was one by a Mum who was talking about how she loved sitting for ages just staring at her new baby and how she felt this love flow over her.

I put the magazine aside and looked at Mr N. He was very cute, but in less than a minute I was bored, and I didn’t feel any of the feelings the magazine was telling me about. I started to wonder what I was doing wrong…

These thoughts led me to believe that I was a Bad Mother and I was doing everything wrong.

 

Linking up with Flog Yo Blog Friday (for some reason I can’t add this to the sidebar atm!)


Misdiagnosed?

Mis diagnosed?

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about introverts and what we need to look after ourselves. After much thought and reflection, I’m starting to think there was a possibility I was mis-diagnosed with PND!

I’ve been wondering whether or not to write this post for a while… This may be quite controversial, and it’s just a theory, but hear me out.

I am an introvert. I need quiet time to recharge my batteries. As I’ve blogged about before, I found being the mother of a newborn relentless. With a newborn who screamed for three months, especially if he was put down, I didn’t get enough of a break to recharge, just a few snatches here and there. By the time baby number 2 came along, while he was a much easier baby than his brother, I was still looking after a 2 year old. Added to the fact he was born a week before Christmas… well, there wasn’t much chance for a break. It wasn’t until both kids were in childcare (when they were 3 and 1) that I started getting regular breaks.

Unfortunately, the diagnoses for “Introverted mother who is completely overwhelmed and needs some time to herself to recharge her batteries” is post-natal depression. To be fair, the symptoms are practically identical. When I’m overwhelmed by life and haven’t had the chance for some down time, I feel depressed, and the symptoms are exactly the same as clinical depression.

In hindsight, the diagnosis of PND gave me permission to accept help, and ask for it in the first place. I was able to ask people to look after my baby so I could go to doctors appointments, and I would take my time and be glad when they were running late so I could sit quietly in the doctors surgery and read a book.

I was able to take time out to go to the hair dresser or even go to the supermarket on my own – on doctors orders, of course. My doctor told me I needed to have time out for myself – I wonder if he knew I was an introvert and needed time to myself. Something I am only just realising now.

In spite of the isolation of modern mothers, I found that a lot of the support offered was social – mother’s group, ABA groups, PND support groups. The support I really needed at the time was for someone to come and regularly give me a real break when I didn’t have to interact with anyone and I could simply recharge.

Now that my kids are older, it is easier to find time, however protecting that time is challenging. I’m still working on this.

I have no evidence I was mis-diagnosed – I need to do some more research on this and, unfortunately, I moved away from the doctors I saw when my kids were little, so it’s a bit hard to ask them about it. But there you go.

As promised, a reflection from an introverted mother, and some general ramblings…

Introvert

Privacy and time alone

The first part of my personality is ‘I’ for Introvert.

According to Exploding the Myth of the Ideal Parent, in order for the introverted parent to maintain their energy they need “Privacy and time alone”.

With very small children, this can be difficult. I can remember being desperate to get my hair cut, not because I was wanting to be stylish or was worried about looking good, but because it meant I got time out from being on duty with a baby and toddler. Whenever I had an appointment, I took my time, leaving a lot more time than I needed so that I would get some much needed time alone.

I also booked my kids into childcare from the time they were 1 so I was able to get some alone time. This was a lifesaver for me.

Now that my kids are older, it’s much easier to organise alone time. They are able to fend for themselves in the mornings if I need a Saturday morning lie in, and they go to their Dads place every second weekend so I can get some time to recharge. They also go to bed early, giving me a bit of quiet time before I go to bed.

I am also quite happy staying home on Friday and Saturday night, especially after a busy week of work and running the kids around.

Now that my kids are in primary school, they have after school and weekend activities that they want to do. I limit the number of activities they can do, otherwise I would go crazy, not to mention they wouldn’t get their homework done.

I’m still working things out to get the balance right as it’s not always perfect, but I’m getting there.

All I know for sure is that knowing I need privacy and time alone to look after the Introverted side of my personality does help me make this a priority in my life.

Four parts to my personality

Four aspects of personality

There is more to me than just being an introvert. I am an INTP which means I’m an Introvert Intuitive Thinking Perceiver. The other three areas of my personality impact on the type of introvert I am, so many of my experiences may not be the same as yours.

These four areas make up me – the type of person I am, the type of mother I am – and all four areas need looking after in order for me to be the best person I can be.

A while ago I found a great article called Exploding the Myth of the Ideal Parent. I found this article to be fantastic as it looks at the different aspects of personality and parenting, breaking it down for each part of a person’s personality.

Just for fun, I thought I’d look at each of the four aspects of my personality and how to recharge my batteries. My source will be the bottom of that article and I’ll look at some of the ways I recharge my batteries. I hope you enjoy these posts.

Confidence in my parenting style

Personality type

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I spent so many years beating myself up that I wasn’t a good enough Mum because I loved building the train track, but hated getting down on the floor and running the trains around said track.

Since then, I have learned that I’m parenting exactly to my personality type, and that it’s OK to not want to get down on the floor to run trains around the track.

It turns out that I didn’t need all those parenting books, magazines and sites, I just needed to understand my personality type and how that translated into my parenting style.

My Dad introduced me to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator when I was a teenager, and I am an INTP. This personality type is one of the rarer types that exist.

A while ago I was searching in INTP parenting types and came across the following:

Your type is: intp “The ‘Love of Learning’ Mother”

“I keep the encyclopedia in the kitchen so we can look up things together while we eat.”
* Intellectually curious and patient, the INTP mother relishes those times with a child when they are learning something interesting together. Whether they’re at the zoo or computer terminal, she sparks to answering his or her ‘whys’ with in-depth responses or new knowledge.

* The INTP mother is also objective and introspective. She listens to and discusses children’s ideas and questions as she would those of a peer, fostering self-esteem and confidence. Open and non-directive, she allows children the freedom to do for themselves and quietly encourages them to believe they can do it.

* Independence, autonomy, intellectual development, and self-reliance are probably the INTP’s highest priorities for her children. An avid reader, she naturally imparts an appreciation and love of reading as well.

* Drawn to all types of learning, the INTP may also value her mothering experience for all the new insights about life it provides her.

I found this here.

Reading this, it helps to explain why I found the baby years so difficult – they aren’t interested in the encyclopedia! I must admit that I started enjoying parenting a lot more when the boys started showing more of an interest in learning.

It has also given me a lot more confidence in my parenting abilities as it shows that I am parenting exactly to my personality. I’ve also found the best ways to recharge and look after myself. More on that in coming posts.

Dinner with my boys

Going out for dinner

On a normal day, by the time dinner rolls around I’m exhausted. I know all the advice says that at dinner time, we should all sit around the dinner table and talk… but to be honest after a day at work, helping the kids with homework, taking them to various after school activities, cooking dinner and doing all the other “Mum Stuff”, I’m exhausted.

The boys and I catch on up on the news of the day during the drive home, so there isn’t a whole lot to talk about over dinner.

A few months ago, the kids went to a support group for kids of separated parents. After the second session, the boys wanted to talk, so we went out for dinner. This happened every week for the remainder of the six week session, and now it’s become part of our regular routine.

Most weeks it’s just me and the boys, occasionally we’ll invite my parents to join us. Usually it’s just the three of us.

The rules are simple – the boys can ask questions about anything and I’ll my best to answer them. We also don’t talk about work.

So far we’ve had some wonderful discussions about all sorts of things that are on the boys minds. Without the distractions of home, we’ve been able to connect with each other in a way that having dinner together every night and trying to have meaningful conversations.

These dinners have become such an important even on our weekly calendar that I have budgeted for it every week to make sure it happens. On the few weeks when something else is on, the boys really miss our time together.

Having the night off cooking once a week also works wonders for me, taking a bit of pressure off. We also go to the same place every week and they have a great kids menu, although Mr N is starting to get so big the kids menu just isn’t big enough!

Shopping trip with Playgroup

Going shopping

When my boys were about 1 and 3, my church playgroup did a wonderful thing for us Mums. They set up the church hall for the kids and recruited some extra volunteers, then they took the Mums to the local shopping centre to do our Christmas shopping.

The wonderful thing, for me, was that I could finish my shopping in peace. The kids were looked after and I had a time to meet up at a cafe where the church shouted us all a coffee and cake before heading back to pick up the kids. I was able to browse the shops on my own and tick off the final items on my list.

In the busyness of December (during which I also had a birthday to plan as Mr Z has his birthday on 18 December), I was able to have some time on my own to get done what I needed to do. This was a fantastic way the playgroup supported the Mums who had small children to drag around the crowded shopping centre.

I was still exhausted after this shopping trip, so I took advantage of little boys needing a sleep time, and I was able to nap peacefully in the knowledge that my Christmas shopping was done, as well as getting a birthday present for my little man. All that was left to do was the food shopping.

This was in the days before online shopping was as great as it is now (I feel so old writing that!).

It’s all so social…

All so social...

When my boys were born, there were many groups available to help support Mums. These included the ABA, Mother’s Group run by my Maternal and Child Health Nurse, PND support group, play group at church, and others. As the boys grew, there were parent committees and invitations to other mother’s nights that usually involved dancing and drinking.

Reflecting on these, they were all designed to be social activities where you would get together with other Mum’s and generally talk about how life was as a Mum.

Part of me enjoyed the change to the every day, getting out of the house and away from the housework, baby and life in general. Most of the time I would get home exhausted from being around people. At the time, I blamed these feelings on PND, on having a baby that didn’t sleep through the night, on pregnancy or breastfeeding, or something else. It’s only in hindsight I realised that what I actually needed was some time to myself.

I used to think that what we needed was a place where Mum’s could go for a weekend and just sleep and know that the kids were looked after, whether by Dad or a babysitter, and Mum could be pampered and not have to talk to anyone if she didn’t want to… I still think this is a good idea and I’m looking for somewhere I can go for a weekend.

The one thing I noticed what that everything aimed at supporting Mum’s was social and better suited to an extrovert. That’s not to say that introverts can’t enjoy them too. I just found that the majority of the support services that were available are more social…

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