An Introvert’s Guide to Parenting

Hi, my name is Tamara and I’m an introvert. One of the many, many things that I didn’t know about parenting when I was newly wedded and dreaming of babies is that your entire social sphere is altered irreparably by the appearance of a mini-you.

When you become a parent:

Strangers Will Feel Urged to Talk to You. It’s like some invisible door has been opened and people feel comfortable stepping on through to chat. If you are outside of the house and are toting a kid (or two), people feel some sort of common bond with you. Which means they will strike up a conversation. Anywhere you go. You’re standing in the grocery store staring at the wall of spaghetti sauces and trying to decide which one you want while simultaneously remembering something stupid you said 15 years ago and (on the other side of your brain) trying to debunk Sartre’s Existentialist Philosophy. A stranger will roll on up into your peripheral vision and smile and make some benign comment about your kids. Or about children in general. Or (my favorite) ask you a stupid question. Like, “Oh my God, they are so cute! Are they twins?” when, really, your kids are different genders and 2 years apart in age.

This stranger-speaking phenomenon will begin the moment you are obviously pregnant. During your pregnancy, the stranger speaking to you may also touch you. You will, most assuredly, hear at least one terrifying birth/parenting story that will haunt you for the next three months.

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Kids will invite your kids to birthday parties. Hello personal nightmare. No matter the venue, it’s loud, it’s crowded, it’s overwhelmingly visually stimulating and you will need to try to keep track of where your child is at all moments while mingling with complete strangers. These parties can last for hours. And you can’t leave whenever you want because a) they haven’t sung Happy Birthday yet, b) you don’t want to offend the parents of your kid’s friend or c) you’re parked in and would have to ask 5+ strangers to move their cars. Did I mention that it’s loud? And crowded?

You have to go places you would never had visited before. There are baby clothes stores, baby furniture stores, photography studios, school functions, school field trips, your neighbors’ houses, ER visits, pediatricians, pediatric eye doctors, any number of specialists if your pediatrician thinks something is wrong with your child’s development. You will visit water parks, amusement parks, local parks and playgrounds packed with other parents who will want to chat because they haven’t spoken to another adult all day long. You will, at least once, set foot in a kid-centric restaurant/playland for birthday parties. See above.

Eventually, your kids will want to leave the house. This will bother you since you can’t think of anything more fun than hanging out at home. In elastic waistband pants. Your kids, on the other hand, will be able to think of numerous places outside of the house and yard that they would like you to take them. See above.

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You will dread drop-off/pick-up and/or the wait at the bus stop. The drive-by drop-off is always preferred by the introvert, but sometimes that’s not an option. You will be mingling with the other parents while you drop off and pick up. You will have to stand at the bus stop with a group of other parents from your neighborhood and make *shudder* small talk. (This introvert will say that once you get to know the parents, this won’t bother you anymore. You will look forward to chatting with the one or two parents that you know.)

You will have to do all these things without letting your kids know they bother you, because you don’t want to inadvertently teach them to be uncomfortable in the same circumstances.

Can my other introverted parents out there think of anything I missed?

My Real Day

I keep re-reading my blog post about my imaginary day. It just sounds so lovely and relaxing. Then I thought, maybe I should show my wonderful followers what a real day looks like for me.

6 a.m. The alarm goes off, jarring me awake.. But I have discovered that my sound machine/alarm clock has a wind chime tone. I awake to wind chimes chiming, as I slap at the clock to make it STOP. Then I roll over and pull the covers over my head while mumbling unintelligibly about the unnaturalness of waking up when it’s still dark.

6:30 a.m. I get up and pour big bowls of Fruity Pebbles for everyone. What? It has the word fruit in it.

7:50 a.m. I drop Caylie at school and drive north for a 9 a.m. appointment. On the way, Chase and stop at a store and buy dental floss to kill some time and keep our gums healthy.

9 a.m. My Physical Therapist guides me through a series of movements so she can evaluate my pelvic movement, gait, and muscle alignment. I’m totally jacked up on my entire left side. She then guides me through a session of stretches to open up my rib cage and stretch the muscle that attaches my pelvis to my ribs. Easy schmeezy.

10:30 a.m. Muscles I didn’t realize I had in my back are starting to ache.

11 a.m. I make lunch for Chase and myself. Then I talk on the phone while I throw dinner in the crockpot. Eventually, I remember that I have a lunch waiting for me to eat it.

12 p.m. Chase and I dance around the living room doing ninja moves. We pretend we’re Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and are obnoxiously loud with our kiai as we make our pretend hits. My neighbors were surely eating themselves up with jealousy at our boisterousness.

12:30 p.m. I throw in a load of laundry. I finish the erotic vampire urban fantasy romance novel that I started yesterday. Then I grab my Kindle and cruise Facebook and check my emails in a semi-quiet house. (I replaced the batteries in Chase’s Imaginext T-Rex. It provided hours of me-time).

1:30 p.m. I put in a second load of laundry. I fold my first load of laundry. Then I start cleaning my house. I’ve been so lazy about cleaning lately that this proves to be a daunting task. Chase provides running commentary on how well things are looking while I put away toys.

2:50 p.m. We walk to the bus stop and wait for Caylie. The balmy 47 degree day in Maine makes my newfound back muscles feel like they will shatter with any sudden movements.

3:15 p.m. I break up a fight over the newly noisy T-Rex and wish that I had a nanny.

3:30 p.m. I put on a movie for the kids and write a blog.

4 p.m. I’m off to fold my second load of laundry while my crockpot cooks a pot roast.

Bet you’re wondering what will happen next! So exciting! I’ll give you a preview of what’s to come: We’ll eat, clean up, nag my daughter to get ready for bed, brush teeth, sing lullabies, yell at the kid who keeps coming out of her room while we’re trying to watch a horror movie and I’ll be asleep by 9:30 p.m. Riveting, isn’t it?

A Day in my Imaginary Life

My friend Mary over at Contrary Mom is currently participating in “A Day in the Life of…” project. I’m finding it fascinating to see what other people are doing with their days. I thought about doing this, but my life is really boring and I’d fall asleep just blogging about the details. So instead, I’m going to blog about what I would like to be doing on a typical day. (We’ll assume, for this imaginary day, that funds are unlimited. Wouldn’t that be nice?)

9 a.m. I am gently brought to consciousness by the soft chime of a tibetan singing bowl.

9:15 a.m. I eat breakfast in bed. I’d like the raspberry coconut pancakes they serve at my favorite breakfast place in Monterey, CA. (First Awakenings; you need to eat there. You do.) I get to eat gluten without consequence in my imagination!

9:45 a.m. My personal yoga instructor guides me through a session that awakens and energizes me for the rest of the day.

11 a.m. I make notes on an idea for my next best-selling novel while I soak my feet and get a head, neck and scalp massage at Soakology. And I think I’ll try their Apple Pie Chai while I’m relaxing too.

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12:30 p.m. My girlfriends and I meet up for lunch, eat some amazing food that I don’t have to cook and laugh so obnoxiously loud in our joi de vivre that other people glare at us in jealousy. Because we are enjoying ourselves that much. Truly.

2 p.m. I sit down and work on my novel in a quiet house.

4 p.m. I pick the kids up from the nanny and consult with our personal chef about what we’d like for dinner tonight.

4:30 p.m. I spend quality time with my family.

6 p.m. We eat our gourmet dinner and share about our day. No one interrupts anyone else or tries to talk over them. There is no yelling and the kids eat all their vegetables without complaint.

7 p.m. The live-in nanny bathes the kids and makes sure they’re ready for bed.

7:30 p.m. I sing lullabies and tuck in my kiddos. They fall asleep immediately and NEVER wake me up in the middle of the night.

8 p.m. Mike and I go and have some “alone time.” For 2 hours.

10 p.m. I’m so exhausted from all that alone time, that all I can do is lay in bed and read.

11 p.m. I fall asleep to the cracking sound of the fireplace and the summer nights track on my sound machine.

Kountdown to Kindergarten

I’ve spent the last 2 days looking at everyone’s back to school pictures. And I just have to say… I’m still waiting for Kindergarten to start in my town! My 3 year old started nursery school yesterday, but I have to wait until Monday for my Kindergartener to head off to school. Five days and counting….

In the meantime, I guess I should be reading the 6 page handout that the school gave me in March to help me prepare my child for Kindergarten. Considering that it took them 6 pages to tell me what I’m supposed to do to get her ready for Kindergarten (where all I did was play and sing and learn my letters) I’m guessing I won’t really have time now for all this preparation. In fact, I think they should have given me these instructions to read while I was pushing my child into this world. Good way to spend an hour and a half of my time.

Let’s see. In the last 6 months, I was supposed to do these things to prepare my daughter for Kindergarten:

Build a Love of Learning. Okay, I think I can do that. Kids ask enough questions that I should never run out of topics. Because kids always listen to their parents when they’re talking. Yeah.

Teach Your Child Independence. Works for me! There’s nothing better than a kid who can dress herself, feed herself and wipe her own butt! Once she can use the stove, I think my job in the house will be over.

Build Motor Skills. Um. Okay. I’ve got some canned goods we can do some strength training with. I mean, I can’t possibly rely on my child’s own brain to help her develop these basic skills.

Develop Language Skills. Been there, done that. I think the guy that almost side swiped me when I pulled over for an ambulance the other day was very helpful in building my kids’ language skills. I think I used every swear word in my very vast college English major vocabulary while I honked my horn and shook my fist out the window. They may have learned some sign language too.

Explore Other Cultures. Already done! We just took a trip to Walmart yesterday! My kids are going to be so advanced.

Nurture Your Child’s Physical Well-being. I think I’ve done this since the cops haven’t come to take my kids away. Oh, and we’re gluten free. I mean, that should bring me halfway up the Mother of the Year Award scale all on its own.

Teach Your Child Self-discipline. Baahahahahahaha!!! Do you know that one of the tips was to “avoid tantrums?” I mean, if I knew how to do that I wouldn’t have been mired down in depression for the last month. Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher, this one’s all on you.

Teach Your Child To Get Along With Others. This one is tricky. I haven’t figured out how to do this one yet. Guess that one goes to the teacher to work on. Maybe I should sit in so she can teach me too.

15 Book Related Confessions

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With the heat and the tedium of summer at home with kids I haven’t been feeling very inspired to write. So when I saw this challenge on my friend Stribling’s blog, I thought, I am so going to do this blog challenge. If I’m feeling particularly inspired to write about something else, I’ll blog about that instead and Mondays will be my Whole 30 Challenge updates for the next 4+ weeks so I won’t be a one-trick pony boring you to death. I hope! Book Blogger Challenge, here we go!

Day One: 15 Book Related Confessions

  1. I used to be a book snob. I loved reading literary fiction and the classics, but the plots were getting too emotional for me. I’ve got enough reality in my life; I don’t need to read about it too!
  2. I prefer reading series because its comforting reading a book with a bunch of characters you feel you know personally.
  3. I’m a romance junkie. I love my Sci Fi and Fantasy, but if there’s a love angle built in there, I will love it even more.
  4. Sometimes I get so attached to fictional characters that I go through withdrawal once I finish a series.
  5. I’ve re-read some of my favorite series maybe 5 or 6 times.
  6. I dream about books.
  7. I think I’ve learned more history and historical terms from the Historical Romances I’ve read than I ever did from a textbook.
  8. Damaging a book is sacrilege. Don’t you dare dog-ear a page in front of me!
  9. I’m a book sniffer. I like the smell of newly printed books and I’m not ashamed to take a whiff when I’m in a book store. The hardcover books printed on semi-gloss paper smell the best.
  10. I can read a book a day sometimes. Depending on the book and on the day.
  11. I can’t afford to buy the number of books I read in a year, so I’m practically a resident at my local library. Not only do they know me by name, I’ve had them reserve books for me when new ones come in that they think I’ll like. I have my library card number memorized.
  12. I want my kids to love reading as much as I do. I signed them up for the Children’s Library Summer Reading Challenge 3 weeks ago. They each pledged to read 50 books this summer. We’ve already read 30 (and that’s only counting library books).
  13. After 8 years of marriage to me, my husband has become an avid reader. I love it! We are currently reading the same series and I feel like we have our own mini book club discussions once the kids go to bed.
  14. When e-readers first came out, I was horrified. I went to college to work in the book publishing industry and the thought of electronic books was blasphemous! Then a friend bought me one for my birthday and I had to admit, they’re nice. And I can have 100 books on my Kindle that don’t take up any space in my house.
  15. I hate when people ask me my favorite book because I can’t choose just one. I feel like each good book is a piece of art. There have been many books I’ve read in my life that have blown my mind, so I can’t choose between them. I just can’t.

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Do you have any book confessions to make? What’s the best book you’ve read this year, and what made you love it?

7 Reasons I Could Survive a Horror Movie

My husband has a thing for horror movies. I don’t. But love will make you do weird things. Like watch Killer Clowns From Outer Space. (Although, not even love could get me to watch it a second time. Which he’s tried.) Over the last week, I have caved twice to the “do you want to watch a scary movie?” question. So we watched House At The End of the Street (Which I didn’t get the title of because it was about the house next door. And that’s a different movie altogether.) and 6 Souls. They were pretty good. Nothing that would wow my husband per se, but enough to freak me out just a little. There is something freaky about people who are both violent and aren’t in their right minds. Not as freaky as creepy little kids in horror movies, but still freaky.

These movies got me to thinking though. I could survive a horror movie plot.

Here’s how I came to that conclusion:

1. I can’t scream and run at the same time. Running and screaming seem to go together like peas and carrots in horror movies. It only makes sense, therefore, that since I can’t do this, I will survive. Without making more noise than the huff-huff of my breath, I might be able to successfully run away from whatever scary person/thing that is chasing me. If he/she/it is slow.

2. I have an irrational fear of basements. I refuse to go down into one. I don’t care if the basement is the only part of the house that seems remotely safe; I will not descend into that creepy mildewed chamber. This will save my life one day. I know it.

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3. Hiding somewhere for more than 2 minutes fills me with the irresistible urge to pee. This would prompt me to go on the offensive, taking out the threat, so I could peaceably relieve my bladder.

4. Camping in the dark, dark woods does not turn me on. You will never catch me bare-assed and frolicking anywhere outside in the dark. Especially when people are mysteriously disappearing from their cabins/tents/RVs, etc. This too will save my life.

5. I don’t collect dolls. No freaky porcelain-headed glassy-eyed creep shows for me, thanks. Also, no ventriloquist dolls, puppets, or killer clown dolls to pull me under my bed.

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6. I have never felt the urge to take a midnight stroll through a cemetery. Even if I felt the need to go walking in the dark, nothing could possibly tempt me to pass through the wrought iron gates of a cemetery.

7. In a homage to Stephen King, I will never: bury a dead animal in a cursed cemetery, go swimming in a lake with a mysterious oil slick, touch a green-glowing meteorite, follow a clown with a british accent down a sewer, house-sit an empty haunted hotel in Colorado, or hang out in a town full of creepy kids who worship corn. (The name Malachi still gives me the creeps.)

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What horror movie freaked you out the most?

10 Things I Wish For My Kids

I wish:

1. That you find self-acceptance at an early age. My babies, loving yourself for who you are is a beautiful, beautiful thing. The earlier you can do this, the better your life will be.

2. That you experience real love in your lives. Being loved, really loved, by someone else is such a treasure. Don’t settle for second best. Don’t rest until you feel this big, crazy, amazingly powerful love that fills you so full that you could burst apart at any moment. It’s worth the wait.

3. That you don’t let others’ opinions change your outlook on life or on yourselves. There’s a Dr. Seuss quote that sums this up quite nicely. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” It’s true. The people who love you will love you no matter what you choose to do with your life. They may not like it, but they’ll still love you.

4. That you follow your hearts. Don’t do something because you think you should or because everyone else is doing it. Do the things that you love. Live without regrets.

5. That you have fun. Life will always be filled with seriousness and responsibilities. Have fun anyway. All work and no play makes for a sad, boring and lonely life. Your kind of fun may be different than others. Don’t worry about that. Find what works for you and never stop doing it! (Unless it’s drugs or alcohol. In that case, your mama says, that stuff is artificial fun and will make you miserable in the long run. Listen to your mama!)

6. That you never stop dreaming. There is nothing wrong with being a dreamer. It means you have ideas, passions, goals and most importantly, hope.

7. That you never give up when you want something. The things that are the hardest to attain are almost always the most valuable. Don’t give up when something you want seems unattainable. Work hard and know that when you finally succeed, the elation and pride you’ll feel is incredible!

8. That you always stand up for yourselves. I don’t care what’s PC. Some kid knocks you down, you get up and knock him right back. Don’t take shit from people.

9. That you don’t let anyone hold you back. Not everyone will be supportive of your choices. Don’t let that stop you! The person who is holding you back may be doing so out of jealousy, fear or worry – it doesn’t make a difference. It’s their hang up, not yours.

10. That you live healthy lives filled with laughter and love. Take care of your bodies. Take care of your minds and hearts and souls. Laugh often, love unconditionally without the fear of being hurt. If you can do that, you will live happy lives. And that’s every mother’s greatest wish for her children.

(Note: I would always wish for you to have confidence, but you both already have it in spades. This morning, Caylie, when I asked if you wanted to wear a sparkly headband you said, “Mommy, I don’t want to be too pretty.” And Chase, when I asked you yesterday if your first day of camp was fun you said, “Of course it was fun. I was there!” Yeah, I think you’ve got the confidence thing covered.)

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