On Navigating Hard Seasons as an Introverted Mom
Pelf City—it’s an okay spot to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.
My mother has reminded me of this more times than I can count. Pelf City is our code for Self Pity, our destination when life comes out of nowhere and kicks us in the teeth. It’s a bad day, or week, or month, or year. We call each other and cry and allow all the feelings: It’s not fair, why does he or she keep doing this, how are we going to get through it? But the rule is simple: You can make a rest stop in Pelf City, but you can’t buy property and break ground on new construction. You acknowledge the hard, share it with someone you trust, then slip on your big girl pants and continue the journey.
I learned the importance of this principle the hard way as an introverted mother. For more than seven years, one of my children routinely struggled with anger. Daily rages were our reality, long past the terrible twos. Yet for the longest time, I didn’t open up about what we were going through. Because my child directed most of the anger toward me, I felt like it was my problem, my fault. I kept it inside or tried to make light of it. I thought telling the truth about the tough stuff equaled “being negative” or complaining, and that in order to be a positive person and a hardworking mom, I had to ignore those feelings or at least put a spin on them. Guess what? That didn’t work; it only made life harder.
A turning point came when one day, in the middle of my child’s tantrum, I wrote to a handful of friends: “My child has been screaming for over an hour, and I am so sad. I need you guys to know just because I don’t want to feel like it’s this dark secret I’m keeping, but also because I need someone to tell me that it’s not all my fault. I know I can trust you and I would really value your prayers.”
Typing those words was an absolute relief, and so were the kind, caring responses that arrived minutes later, letting me know I wasn’t alone, offering prayers, and simply acknowledging the hard.
Truthfully verbalizing our reality is the first step in healing our hurts. Not only that, but we desperately need this kind of vulnerability in our world. After all, we don’t often scroll through social media to find a photo of someone’s shrieking child, do we? I get this. We use our lenses to capture beauty. But that can also lead us to think we’re the only ones dealing with anything less than beautiful. When we courageously expose our personal darkness, it’s impossible for it to remain shadowed and overcast. Light transforms everything, and loads are always easier to carry when distributed between two sets of shoulders.
Let’s turn to the Psalms for a blueprint of how to do this. Consider Psalms 42, 56, 57, 142, 143, and many others. We see a pattern here: The writers express the reality of their current paths. They don’t shy away from pain and suffering:
My enemies have set a trap for me. I am weary from distress. (Psalm 57:6 NLT)
I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. (Psalm 142:1–3)
Yet the writers of the Psalms don’t set up camp in Pelf City, either. After a few honest verses, they turn their attention from the problem back to God’s faithfulness. They recall the times he helped them in the past. And they remind themselves that God will be there this time, too:
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you . . . (Psalm 42:5–6)
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side! I praise God for what he has promised; yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised. (Psalm 56:8–10)
We can cling to this pattern when we need to deal with life’s hard seasons in a way that keeps us moving forward instead of in a way that keeps us feeling stuck.
Loss and heartache drain any personality type, but understanding their impact on us as introverts means we can show ourselves extra kindness, setting a beautiful example for our kids—introverted or otherwise—of how to deal with hardship in their own lives.
Jamie C. Martin is an introverted mom of three, who loves books, tea, and people (not always in that order), and avoids answering the phone when possible. She created the site Steady Mom in 2009 and co-founded SimpleHomeschool.net in 2010, where she’s served as editor-in-chief for nearly a decade. Life as Mom is LOUD, but you long for quiet. When the volume of family life clashes with your personality, frustration, guilt, and overwhelm naturally result.
In her new book Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy, Jamie C. Martin lifts these burdens from your shoulders, reminding you that your steady strength is exactly what your family needs in this chaotic world. Jamie shares vulnerable stories from her own life, letting you know you’re not alone. Her practical suggestions and creative inspiration are enhanced with quotes and insights from four beloved authors: Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, L. M. Montgomery, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Together, Jamie and this band of fellow introverts gently point you toward hope, laughter and joy.
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