I was sitting here in blissful, wonderful silence this morning reading this post by the wonderful Emily at Have A Laugh On Me and her questions got me to thinking. Yes, that’s what that burning smell is. I do occasionally think about other things beside cake or Karen Carpenter. See? I waited until the third sentence to mention them! Hmph.I love quiet time. I guess it goes with the territory of being quiet, shy, introverted and an Aspie. Yep, I certainly hit the jackpot there with all those marvellous traits. Apparently, I don't know how to spell marvellous anymore as it has just appeared with one of those annoying squiggly red lines under it. Or spell, period. Isn't that just MARVELLOUS? Or however the fuck you spell it. HMPH.
I also have to confess that sometimes this fervent love of solitude makes me feel like I may be a tad selfish and self-absorbed at times. Which is just plain silly, right? This is a theory that I've actually had suggested to me: that quiet people are selfish. At the time I remember thinking that this was utter bullshit but of course I didn't say anything. After all, I'm quiet (or selfish depending on your point of view) so I kept my 'what a load of bullshit' thought to myself.
The irony was that this occurred in a group I attended to do with confidence building. Oddly enough being told that you're considered selfish didn't do a great deal to boost my confidence. Funny about that.
Another funny thing is that I before I had children I kind of knew this about myself - that I had an extreme need for quiet time and solitude and that this would probably be my biggest challenge with having children. In spite of this, I still plunged ahead and had three of these delightful creatures, proving that in addition to being selfish I am also a masochist. On the plus side, it's nice to have yourself figured out at this advanced age. Meaning, the wrong side of forty. I’m a selfish, self-absorbed masochist. Nice.
Which brings me to Emily’s question about volunteering for the school tuck shop, P & C or as a parent helper. As a stay at home mum who doesn’t do any of these things am I being selfish? Even though I feel like I have valid reasons, are those reasons selfish or wrong?
I don’t have good people skills: People are scary. You have to talk to them and make eye contact, which are two things I am simply not stellar at. Should I force myself to do so in spite of this?
I have helped in the canteen at the boys soccer grounds. Once. Shut up. This involved a hatrick of skills I do not possess. Talking to and serving people, remembering orders and adding up the money. I was a nervous wreck at the end of an hour and have never wished to repeat the experience.
I struggle with just helping my boys with their homework. This is something I’m not proud of, but there it is. It’s quite humiliating to not understand primary school homework, so perhaps I do need to return to school. However, not as a parent helper, but as a student, so I can learn basic grammar (this blog could certainly benefit from it) and maths all over again and how to spell words like marvellous. Plus, I’m sure I’d still look quite cute in a uniform and pig tails. No?
Previously, I took Mr 5 to a Play Group where the interactions between parents sometimes became slightly political while I tried to remain like Switzerland – neutral – and not get involved. For this reason I prefer to avoid P&C committees with the same sleuth like elusiveness I employ in avoiding the I Quit Sugar craze. In fact, that is where you would find me at Play Group. In the corner where the morning tea cakies were, shoving them in my gob to avoid talking and, you know, just because I’m addicted to cake. Ahem. If P&C meetings involved cake of any description, I’d be a candidate for The Biggest Loser before the year is through.
I did volunteer to help in the library at the boys previous school. I figured that I do have a Library Practice Diploma (even though it's more than twenty years old - details) and experience working in specialist libraries ( a long time ago, but again- details). I was given a stack of books to take home and cover. I didn't mind doing this. Where other people might find it tedious and prefer social contact, I'd rather work with books than people. I'm weird. So perhaps I could try that again and play to my strengths.
Now I’m back to my original point about LOVING quiet time. I as I stated, it does seem somewhat selfish but the truth is that I desperately, desperately need to have time to myself or, to be completely blunt and honest, I feel that my mental health starts to suffer. In order to function as a mother of three boys and keep on top of everything that goes with the territory I need time to recharge. I also need to do physical exercise and break a sweat every day. I know everyone needs this, but as a person who has challenges with anxiety requiring medication I need this like I need air. It does seem selfish and a tad self-absorbed at times but it’s the truth.
And that little myth about having more time once the kids are all at school? That’s what it is: a myth. Sorry to burst that bubble if your kidlets are not at school yet. I personally find that school brings with it much more stuff to organise and remember and also constant socialising in the form of school fetes, assemblies and the inevitable birthday party invitations that arrive. These are things I need to pace myself with. As someone on the spectrum, I have different challenges than other Mum’s who perhaps can handle the whole multi-tasking, socialising, P&C committee attending, soccer Mum thing with greater ease than me.
And ultimately, as I read in the book Power Over Panic by Bronwyn Fox, my mental health has to be more important than what someone might think of me. This is now my mantra.
Do you need quiet time to cope with the demands of parenting? How do you recharge? Or do you think I’m selfish?