I’m all about relationships, right? Well, I have often felt guilty for not enjoying people more than I do, for not being all-the-time in love with parenting, and for wishing for somewhere to hide when I am in large groups. But I’m through with all that; I’m just fine the way I am. You see, I went to school this past weekend and learned something: Being around people energizes extroverts; other people drain the energy from introverts.
I’ve known for many years that I am a true introvert. I love ideas, things, projects, and goals. I am much, much happier when I’m working on my own; show me how to do something and let me do it – alone. My best creativity shows up when I’m by myself. But I’ve always felt I should be ashamed of this, that I wasn’t really a good person because I don’t like being around other people much. Yes, I’ve been a teacher for about 40 years, and most of the time I was a good teacher. My classes were almost always large, because that’s the way music classes tend to be, and I enjoyed teaching. But I got to send those kids out the door after class was over, and at the end of the day I had an empty room all to myself. It was such a wonderful feeling!
This week I played Grandma to my two very active, highly creative granddaughters. In the past, this has been highly stressful for me!! But this time, because of what I’d learned in school, I found ways to retreat into some personal quiet space, even in the midst of all our activities, and was delighted to find that I enjoyed grandparenting so much more.
I think it is important for my grandchildren to get to know their great- grandparents, so I each time I have had our granddaughters, I have arranged to take afternoon tea to their great-grandparents. This involves a lot of driving with the granddaughters, since most of the greats live about 2 hours in different directions from my home. This time, though, I tried to relax and let them figure out how to solve minor differences on their own while I just enjoyed the drive. I sat back, savoring my tea, and let the girls enjoy sharing with their great-grandmothers the gingerbread cookie angels they had made and iced. It was fun to watch them remind each other to crook their little fingers as they sipped cinnamon tea from the china cups we packed for each visit.
There are times I wish I lived way out in the mountains of Wyoming, at least an hour from any town. But I don’t and probably never will. However, now that I am learning how, I can mentally retreat a few paces and recharge my batteries in peace before I have to re-enter the throng of life. I sure wish I’d known this 50 years ago!