It’s an important topic, both for me and many of the women I’ve met in this season of life. After all, as Martin says, “When our quiet nature collides with our often loud role, frustration and guilt result.” And believe me, I’ve definitely experienced both. Some days, it can be hard to recognize my tendency toward being overwhelmed as anything other than an indicator that I’m not cut out for this gig. Read More »
But seriously. I’m usually classified as an ISFJ. And here’s what I figure.
You’re still called to generosity and loving on your neighbor, but you get to stack the deck in your favor.
See, you can be a Christian introvert, but I don’t think you can be a shy Christian. Or you can still consider yourself shy, find yourself quaking in anxiety, and still do the brave thing in seeking out the people who need your company, your generosity, your prayers. You can’t hide behind the label on the comfort of your couch, unchallenged, uninconvenienced.*
For me, introvert hospitality means things like reminding myself about scruffy hospitality so my (ISF)J side doesn’t take over and shift me to high-strung perfectionism. (I talk about that struggle in this old post.) It means hosting people during the hours I feel most alert and energetic — kids have helped in this regard, because it means we often wrap things up by 9. (I remember hosting my first college party and at 2 a.m., with mixed wonder and revulsion, pretty much just yelling, “OK GET OUT!!!”) It also means that, at my wedding, I invited everyone I loved, but I also deliberately kept the reception during daytime and short: I want to hug you all, but I also reserve the right to peace out.
Maybe the same is true for extroverts (probably — I’ll ask my husband, who is the ENTP to my ISFJ), but I think it’s particularly important for introverts. You need self-care, but you also need to care about people.
What I am, instead, is a passionate believer in The Nap.
Pippin has always been a wretched napper. I don’t think it’s something we did, but just the way God made him. He’s not a kid who relaxes very easily (he comes by this honestly, ahem), and so we spent the first couple of years of his life trying to trick him into sleep.
And there were some missteps, for sure, but I regret nothing. Because this is the kind of parent I am: the parent who needs her kids to nap.
It’s a rhythm that’s shaped my life for approaching four years, and at this point, if I’m not reading or writing or sleeping myself in a dim, quiet house come 1 o’clock, I feel off. Along the way, I’ve met people who will blow their kids’ naps quite casually if something exciting comes up, parents who admit defeat and allow their kids to kick the nap at two years old. And…that might be in other circumstances, or with subsequent kids, but The Nap is something worth fighting for.
I put Pippin into pajamas at nap time to make him sleepier. We are into blackout curtains and noise machines and loveys, and swings for babies. I’ve bribed. (Successful, mostly.) I’ve threatened. (Unsuccessful, overwhelmingly.) We’ve moved bedtime and wakeup time to make it happen. A nap-striking kid makes me angrier than almost anything else in this motherhood gig, but on a normal day, when things move smoothly, we meet back up in the afternoon refreshed and better able to enjoy each other through the day.
There are times I’ve wanted to quit. When Pippin learned to stand up in his crib and holler HELP ME. When he went through a phase where he’d be so low-sugar when he’d wake up that he’d shriek until I could convince him to eat a snack. There have been other times when I couldn’t get him down fast enough — especially when I was pregnant — and I’d start dreaming of nap time at 10:30.
Scout is a better sleeper. At 11 months, she still often takes three naps, whereas Pippin was down to a single nap by his first birthday.
I have to hustle and cajole and delay to get the kids to nap simultaneously, but it quite literally makes our day. I feel like the nap is under-appreciated as a means to family harmony. When we all get a little time alone and some rest, the whole day runs more smoothly. I can understand how it would be less of a priority for other mothers, but for this introverted, low-energy, melancholic lady, it keeps me sane, and I plan to insist on quiet time for the kids as they finally age out of naps.
In the end, I want to like my kids, to enjoy being around them, and paradoxically, to make that happen, I have to get them to sleep early and often. And so I do.