How having kids turned me into an introvert

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Once upon a time I was that person; the life of the party. You know the one, always looking for the next social occasion, seeking out company. I was also an organiser and on the social committee for all of my workplaces and the first to put my hand up to help with events.

I had my social smarts well and truly oiled. While I wouldn't say I was the most charismatic, witty or engaging of the bunch all of the time, what I had in spades was motivation. And that folks, is everything in the sociability stakes.

Then I had my first kid.

Everything was hunky dory once I had recovered from the shock of first time parenthood - actually, I may not even be over that yet, however, once I had a group of women to whinge to I was fine. Mother's group was a lifesaver and I finally understood that many babies don't sleep and many parents feel like their former lives have gone forever.

I did Gymbaroo, baby massage, playgroup, Mums and Bubs movie sessions. Oh my, I found a whole different social scene, one that revolved around my baby, accompanied by some wonderful women in the same boat. By the end of the first year my kid was sleeping through the night and things got even better.

I refer to the next year-and-a-bit as 'The Golden Year.' He was an utterly delightful toddler and we had four doting grandparents willing to babysit and entertain this enchanting child.

Then our second son arrived.

He was an easy baby who slept and ate wonderfully, however juggling two became the challenge, though I had no idea just how challenging things were about to become.

When my second son hit toddlerhood and all hell brooke loose. He was the kind of kid who broke everything - out of curiosity, sure, but whoa I couldn't take my eyes off him.

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He climbed things, he broke his leg, he was wildly allergic to insect bites which required me to bandage his arms and legs at times and affected his sleep. He was hospitalised with bronchiolitis many times and threw epic tantrums. I was just so tired and my partner was working long hours. It was easier just to try to deal with the day without anyone dying than try to socialise. And so my journey towards introversion began.

The nail in the coffin of my former extroversion came with my third child.

No third mother's group and no time to attend, juggling the needs of three kids of vastly different ages, weekends taken up with sport, homework, cooking, and drowning in washing all of the time.

I lost the urge to be the life and organiser of a social group, preferring instead to fall into bed with my back-lit Kindle and lie there in the dark and silence devouring books.

We lost two grandparents in this time; gone with them was their time and energy for our kids, as well as their guidance for us as parents. More fell to me than ever before, as the kids' primary carer.

Books and sleep became my favourite things in the world, taking over from the constant company of others. I had more company than I knew what to do with and needed to recover from my long days.

Four years later, I still prefer books and bed to a night out. What's changed markedly is now I recharge from being alone, whereas before I recharged by being with people.

After nearly 13 years of being a parent I'd say I've had a pretty profound temperament change, preferring instead my own company and that of my family, as well as just a few close friends.

Sometimes I miss my old self, ever-ready to socialise, but mostly I embracemy new ways.

And the best bit of all? Sometimes - though rarely - my extrovert self emerges, surprising and delighting me... though I always need a big nap afterwards.