This week’s been bananas, but my extroverted heart is full to overflowing.
To say nothing of homeschool, real-estate work, and juggling the kids’ own burgeoning social calendars, I’ve had a full week: Monday I had lunch with a girlfriend, followed by an afternoon pedicure with my sister-in-law. Tuesday I lunched with another sister, then met two more friends for coffee that evening. Wednesday I met a cousin for a leisurely brunch; Thursday the whole fam met out-of-state-friends at our favorite pizza parlor. Friday was a blur I can’t even recall, and Saturday & Sunday we hosted a revolving door of friends and family* at our house while our village shuttled our kids to and from activities.
*Firstborn to early-bird theatre rehearsal, Husband & Little Man out for man-time. Center Sister departs w/Auntie for lunch & a film, then I retrieve Firstborn from theatre plus stay for a mandatory parent meeting. Mom & Partner pop by with spoils from recent trip to Machu Picchu; sister, brother-in-law, & nieces also gather. Sister-in-law returns with Center Sister & stays to visit, as well. Friend comes to take Firstborn to dinner & a movie and leaves her middle to hang w/Center Sister; I take Center Sister, Little Man, & Friend to local aquatic center then return home for pizza Husband has magically procured; Firstborn returns w/Friend & Father whom we visit with until the wee hours. We collapse into bed & hubby wakes early when another pal arrives to accompany him to Seahawks game while I get kids ready for church. After church I pop by Dad & step-Mom’s then head home and Baby Sister & Saintly Boyfriend stop over before I run the girls to and from youth group across town.
I suppose this is what living in community looks like.
A short time ago things looked dramatically different: Our life in Montana was quiet and peaceful– majestic, enveloping nature a healing balm for our family, it was a safe, serene place to bring our son home from China.
But in Montana I was socially starving… Awash in a sea of introverts, I struggled to fit in, to find my people. It didn’t help that we seemed the sole family in all of Big Sky Country that didn’t ski– the frigid winters admittedly more hibernation-centric.
I’m sorry, Montana– it’s not you, it’s me… Might the strict cocooning we employed to bond with Little Man have hindered my ability to connect? Or perhaps it was homeschool? Though pupils sufficiently socialized, teaching parents can feel overwhelmingly isolated and exhausted, “like butter scraped over too much bread.” (Tolkien)
I suffered a teeny-tiny existential crisis, suspecting the culture (pursuit of wide-open spaces & prevailing ‘don’t tread on me’ posture) had rubbed off on me. Had I quietly morphed from life-long extroversion into subtle introversion? Can an extrovert become an introvert?
One desperate day I hastily completed a personality test, just to check. Survey says: I was still an ENFJ with a capital E. (Handsome Husband remains my polar opposite.)
In hindsight, I don’t believe it was necessarily seasonal introversion so much as social atrophy. I was weary, homesick, lonely, and oft misunderstood. I traded twin Starbucks cups in the comfy chairs for a lonely mug of chamomile in the bathtub.
So I embraced the silence, settled in and got cozy. Despite otherwise lack of camaraderie, my marriage —my primary relationship– was healthy, flourishing even. Perhaps that was God’s plan all along. Recognizing my withering, Husband sacrificially moved us back home and Stella got her groove back, almost like riding a bike. Now I look back with fondness at our time in Montana, as a season of solitude and close family bonding, and more earnestly appreciate being a part of a community.