Before I married my Patient Husband, I realized one day how much I live in quiet.
Left to my own devices, I seek out quiet and thrive in it. Writing, reading, thinking, and so on. That’s not to say I don’t turn on the music really loud sometimes or even just to have it on for background noise. But the quiet helps me retreat into my own head and do internal processing.
Yes, even on the subways. It’s a 95-decibel white noise and even shoulder-to-shoulder with 350 of my closest friends, there’s a solitude (or an isolation) that makes me a world unto myself. Yes, I loved high school in part because of the 80 minute subway ride in each direction, plus the walk on either end where I didn’t have to deal with anyone.
You could call me a misanthrope or an introvert. Either one. Sometimes both. I think around the time I was 12 I started telling people I hated humanity. Around the time I was 24, I decided maybe human beings weren’t all bad. Noisy, but some of them had redeeming qualities.
And then I had kids.
Holy toledo! There’s no way to prepare a quiet introvert for children. Extraverts seem to derive strength from being with other humans, recharging their batteries a little with each social interaction and immediately ready for more. This baffles me. I imagine extraverts take to parenting like a dolphin to the ocean, diving right into their children’s 24-hour-a-day neediness with a hungry desire for more time together.
Me? Sometimes, I wish I could put my entire family on pause so I could go sit in my room for half an hour and stare at the wall. Because introverts spend a little energy whenever they socially interact, and we recharge with time alone.
(For some reason, and I mean this in a completely loving way, I recharge with my Patient Husband as if I were alone. Not because he leaves me feeling alone or because he ignores me, since neither of those things is ever true, but because together we function as if we’re one person. So it’s kind of the blending of being together and being solitary, and it’s the perfect recharge balance.)
Lately, Kiddo#3 has been doing the typical five-year-old thing, where he talks for two hours straight. And it’s not just talking: he demands attention while he talks. About nonsense.
“Mommy? Mommy? Mommy graham crackers are brown and they’re my favorite and the baby likes to eat them too and when I was a baby I eated graham crackers and MOMMY MOMMY LOOK AT THIS it’s a graham cracker but it looks like a ROCKET, and I’m going to eat my rocket now WATCH ME WATCH MOMMY I’m going to eat my rocket but now it looks like a duck where do ducks come from Mommy do you know because I think they come from the pond but you can buy them at the grocery store too just like the lobsters MOMMY MOMMY ANSWER ME can we see the lobster tank the next time we go to the grocery store?”
After two hours of that, this introvert wants to go hide under the bed.
But I can’t because my Patient Husband is already hiding there. He gets all the good hiding spots. And the kids keep sliding aside the clothes hangers to find me in the back of the closet. Help.