Even though I consider myself an introvert, for awhile, I was the most extroverted person in our home. While I enjoyed my quiet alone time, I didn’t need as much of it as Mike and Rachael. Mike would come home from a day of programming and then immediately get on his computer and ignore me. He needed to decompress. Over time, I got used to it and stopped taking his silence personally. Rachael is daddy’s girl. You know the adage, if your child is really quiet, it means they’re up to no good. Generally, not so with Rachael. We’d go to check on her, and she would be playing quietly in her room. I also got used to her preference to be alone, not feeling slighted when she would tell me that she would rather be alone.
And then, Zoë came along.
Zoë embodies all things extrovert. She rarely stops talking, even if she’s immersed in a show. She makes friends wherever she goes. Just the other day, she initiated a game of peekaboo with a woman in the grocery store parking lot. She has no trouble walking up to someone and introducing herself and whoever is with her. And the attention. She requires so much attention. If she doesn’t have it, it’s the end of the world. The center of attention is her home base. Good luck to you if you want to take a crap in peace. If she can’t be in there with you because you’ve locked the door, she will simply stand outside, knock, and sing Do You Want to Build a Snowman?
This has proved interesting for the rest of us. Poor Rachael has to lock herself in her room just so she can get Zoë out of her face…literally. With our attention so divided, Mike and I are worn out and often can’t muster the energy Zoë’s attention requires. (I wonder if I could make attention horcruxes?) My own depression and fibromyalgia adds even more to the challenge. It creates a vicious cycle of wanting to be left alone because I’m exhausted and/or sore and Zoë demanding attention. The more exhausted I am, the more insanely “attention lady of the evening” Zoë is, which sends me farther into my introverted hole, which makes Zoë try even harder to secure my attention. And around and around we go until I can’t take it anymore and I end up yelling: ENOUGH! WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LEAVE ME ALONE? Zoë may sniffle for a second, and then she’s right back to jumping on you like a hyper Golden Retriever.
I don’t have any really good insights or solutions right now. I try to offer attention when I’m able and hope to have the energy to wear her out each day. I’m going to a psychiatrist in a few weeks. My hope is that she’ll be able to adjust my medication so I’ll be able to conjure enough energy and patience to satisfy her attention cravings. Preschool should also help; it will wear her out and give me a break. (Assuming I can get her potty trained.) Until then, I’ll do my best to assume the proper amount of guilt when we have days like this; she’s been kind of quiet and low energy because it seems she has a sore throat like me. And just so we’re clear, this is a low energy day.