Over a month ago I went on holiday with my extended family – and it was gorgeous. My sister and her family came over from South Africa (for most of them, the first time they'd ever left the country), and my dad from England, and after a few days here in Switzerland we all trekked down to Lake Garda for a week in a wonderful villa, right on the shore. The kids were ecstatic, enjoying the so rare chance to play together as much as getting wet and dirty on the beach. (It wasn't swimming weather, but most certainly was throwing stones into the lake weather.) My dad relished spending time with all four grandchildren together for the first time ever. We in the middle generation made the most of having kids entertain each other, and father cook for us, and made finding the region's best gelato and coffees our top priority. It was everything an Italian holiday should be.
But it's taken me more than a month to start to feel (maybe, almost) on top of things again. I'm used to beating myself up about this stuff; even with small kids, it shouldn't take me THIS long to get sorted. And it's not really about the time, it's something else keeping me from dealing with the disaster that is my desk, the emails that need to be written, from getting my days back on an even keel. (Which is pretty much always a problem for me, but still, it's been particularly bad.)
I think I'm getting a handle on what that something is, and it's not (just) laziness or tiredness. It's introversion.
Don't groan, please! I know. I KNOW. "I'm an introvert" has become a really annoying special-snowflake excuse for everything, and I don't want to do that, I really don't. Introversion is no excuse for not being an adult and getting on with life as needed. Still, there it is: this whole motherhood gig is, I think, especially hard on introverts (because those little people do not have the first clue about boundaries and they just need you ALL THE DANG TIME). In the normal run of things I'm pretty much tapped out on the social contact front, just from dealing with my children, and their friends, and their friends' parents, and omg I'm exhausted just thinking about that actually. (Dealing with these friends IN GERMAN makes it all the harder.) Which makes me a major grouch, but I get by.
Then comes something like this holiday, with more people (lovely people! people I was delighted to be spending time with!) in the same house as me practically every minute, and it takes something out of me that I didn't even think was there to be taken. I've spent the weeks since then wanting to run away from everyone. Which obviously isn't an option so I run away inside my head, instead. It's the exact opposite of the positive attitude I know I should be cultivating: instead of embracing my situation and enjoying the awesome parts of it (my kids are really particularly awesome, especially right now, and when I give myself over to mommyhood we really enjoy each other), I kick out against it and sulk and achieve nothing and hate my life and hate myself for it.
It's hard to unpack exactly why this should make me so unproductive; in my limited child-free time, I can after all sit quietly at my desk and get on with stuff. That's exactly what I want to be doing, and that's the same situation whether I'm over-socialled or not. But the running away seems to turn into running away from everything that feels like an obligation (paperwork, housework, meal planning...). And I've had a big focus task to deal with at the same time (charting a complicated lace pattern for my next design, which is going to be FABULOUS thank you for asking), which has been a great excuse for pushing everything else aside until that was finally done. Fine, except that the messier my desk, the crapper I feel, and the harder it is to concentrate.
ANYhoo. The chart is done. I cleared my desk last night. There was a fantastic thunderstorm, too, which drenched the earth and brought the temperature down 10 degrees and I think cleared my mind a bit too. I feel a little bit lighter today.
I'm not going to say I have a plan to improve my life and attitude and make everything better. I don't, really. I do know the things that make me feel better (tiny things like a clear desk and filed nails), and I want to remember to focus on those.
I also need to keep on letting go of things that I want to do, but can't realistically fit in. Back in January I do believe I thought I could manage to blog every week, even more than once a week. That's not going to happen. I'm not going to keep my online photos updated either. I very much doubt I'll be doing any sewing for the next few months. (Sorry, Elf, I know I promised you a dress.) Priorities, right? I can only do as much as I can do.
What does any of that have to do with introversion? Good question. It's all about time management and such. But I don't know what else I can do. I crave proper me time – which, oddly enough, doesn't mean a spa day or suchlike pampering. I actually fantasise about having uninterrupted time at my desk. Working. This is my dream. Perverse! But I need quiet, I need breathing space, I need to be left alone. I don't know how to achieve that, in the short term, so I have to focus on managing my stress in other ways.
In August, though, Dude starts playgroup twice a week. I remember when Elf started playgroup; I was horrified at how little I got done in those precious hours. It's not enough. But it is alone time. It's time that I can put on music and breathe and be quiet and untouched. I actually think that is more important for me, right now, than Getting Things Done. I mean, sure, I need to get things done. And I will (I hope). It's just that the productivity might be more a side effect of getting some space to be myself, more than the actual hours available for work.
Also, I need to go running more. I really really do.