on motherhood // introversion

as any cursory internet search can tell you, identifying yourself as an introvert or extrovert can lend tremendous insight into your own inner workings.

as an extrovert, you might have previously been unsure why you craved the presence of others, and as an introvert, you might have felt out of place for craving solitude or silence.

i am an introvert. this is not news to me, nor was it particularly surprising. what i didn’t anticipate, however, was how strongly this would play a role in my experience of motherhood.

early in my relationship with mario, my introversion created ire between us; although my extrovert husband thrived seeing friends on a near-constant basis, any more than one social gathering per week, and i felt overwhelmed, drained, and vaguely irritated, like a persistent itch in the back of my throat.

he couldn’t understand why i didn’t want to be around his friends, and i couldn’t fathom him wanting to have that many people in his space all. the. time.

eventually, we reached a place where we accepted this difference in our worldview, and moved past it.

then along came eli. as i’ve mentioned (probably too many times to count), i felt at odds with motherhood. women often talk of how natural it feels, how joyful and exciting it is, and although i adored my son, motherhood as a whole felt awkward and ill-fitting. the unending attention and reality of never being alone left me drained–emotionally, physically, and mentally¬†exhausted.

and then, when eli was eleven months old, my mom finally put her foot down, shoved me out the door, and told me to stay gone for at least two hours without my son.

initially, i was terrified, and texted her every ten minutes to make sure he was okay. after an hour, though, i felt more myself and more relaxed than i had in almost a year.

i learned to let go, a little. and i gained myself back, a little.

from then on, i practiced. i left eli with mario to run 20-minute errands, then thirty, then forty, then an hour. finally, i began teacher training, and left my little boy with his dad for upwards of eight hours.

and it was beautiful. i felt liberated, at peace, and–finally, blessedly–myself.

then iris came into the picture, and i found myself faltering once again. well-meaning urgings from my mom, my sister, and even my husband–“let me take her, just for a walk around the block,” “just run to the store; i can watch her” left me reeling and shaking my head.

“no, it’s okay. i’ve got her. maybe when she’s older.”

then two months went by, and i was holed up in my house, never parting from my little lady and little fellow.

which, again, left me overwhelmed, frustrated, and drained.

and then my husband’s hands were gently–firmly–shoving me out the door.

“go. i’ll take her.”

and so i did.

and my proverbial batteries were recharged.

and then, this morning. the air outside was cool, fresh. the moon shone steady above me, and i got to take thirty minutes to myself for a tiny, simple errand, and again: such a small thing, but i felt stronger, more capable, more at peace.

and there it was: motherhood is not easy. of course, it isn’t. but this is something i feel isn’t often talked about. being an introvert and being a mom sometimes mixes as effectively as oil and water. all-day, unending talking, or crying, and never being alone takes its toll.

it takes an already-difficult task–being around people on a regular basis–and enforces it every. single. moment.

if you find yourself in a similar position: prone to introversion, with children to care for, don’t forget to find a quiet, still moment (or 30) to yourself to breathe, to be still.

on practice // better materials // kitchen

in theory, i respect myself and others.

in theory, i respect this planet, and all it has provided me–food, health, solid ground.

in practice, i say something different.

in practice, all too often, i say convenience rules the day.

practicing your beliefs is so much more difficult than simply speaking them.

isn’t it?

i can smile, joyfully proclaim that “the greatest of these is love,” yet want to scream at my cat when he misses the litter box.

i can purchase cloth bags, hang them on the door, ready for a moment’s notice grocery trip, yet leave them behind and decide turning around is far too bothersome.

what is it, then, that holds me back? habit, some.

fear, some.

simple forgetfulness, some.

but these (legitimate) reasons far too easily wander into excuses and lead me on a path i don’t want to travel down.

so, in the spirit of practicing what i preach, i offer these practical applications of seeking out and using better materials–better for you, for me, for the earth.

kitchen

kitchens are one of the largest culprits in hoarding low-quality, plastic items. from dishes, to scrubbers, to mops, ads manage to convince us that particular gadget will revolutionize cleaning, or eliminate grease.

simplicity will do just fine.

to clean dishes, a simple rag will do. a scraper¬†will clean those cast-iron pots. a coconut-bristle brush will scrape away meddlesome debris. and when you’ve finished? when that rag has more holes than you can count, all of the bristles have fallen out, leaving a useless stick in hand? toss them in the compost heap. simple, effective, and–dare i say–elegant.

floors are a bit trickier. walk the aisles of a general store or supermarket, and you usually find plastic–plastic bristles, plastic handles, plastic trays. you’ll find, too, that these bear a tiny price tag. a price tag that says, “this can be replaced. this can be tossed out.” once again, consider an alternative. consider wood. horse-hair bristles, perhaps. a metal tray.

take a look in your cupboards, your fridge. you might find plates, bowls, utensils made of plastic. you might find plastic tupperware, plastic packages of pre-made food. again, see if you might make a change. visit the local thrift store and find some plates that suit your fancy. consider investing in cast iron for cooking, glass for storage, bamboo for cooking utensils. consider purchasing in bulk bins using your own bags, planning ahead to eliminate single-use plastic and paper, shopping a farmer’s market, and saving your leftovers sustainably.

above all, pay attention. pay attention to your needs and your wants, and learn to recognize which is which. if you already have a synthetic-bristle broom, don’t rush it to a landfill in favor of more sustainable options; use what you have, and replace items sustainably as you need to, as you go.

use what you have. care for what you have. decide where you put your money–where you place your priorities–and proceed accordingly. perhaps a wood-handled scrub brush means little to you, but donating to charity means the world. donate. perhaps your heart aches for animals–source cruelty-free products. whatever your particular cause might be, take a moment out of your day to identify one step (perhaps only the size of a pea) you can take toward putting your convictions into practice.