Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why I Hate MNO (and What I Do Instead)

When my first child was born, I joined a local moms' support group. One of the big things everyone kept going on and on about was Moms' Night Out and its importance for keeping mom sane, having fun, enjoying your time, saving the planet, and promoting world peace.

Okay, maybe not those last two. But . . .  they certainly made a huge deal about it.

So, when Agent E was three month old, I gave it a try. I came home (early) to a hysterical baby who wouldn't take a bottle and simply missed her mommy. This was early in my mothering and a lot of my parenting philosophy hadn't really come together for me yet. (More on that here.) I tried again two more times (over the course of the next couple of years). While the second attempt turned out okay (in that toddler E did fine with Dad and Momma didn't have a panic attack), I ended up coming home early from the third attempt to nurse baby Agent J. 

To sum: I did not have fun, I missed my baby as if a part of my own body were cut off, and I spent the entire evening uneasy.

Still, I listened to the voices that insisted I had to leave my baby, I had to teach her to get along without me, I had to do this for myself. This was great for moms and I needed it! Right? Why didn't this work for me? Why wasn't I looking forward to this? What was wrong with me?

Turns out, nothing. It's just not how I'm wired.

Not until I participated in a Bible study some time later did it finally hit me. A chapter in the book we used described introverts and extroverts in a way I had never heard. I always assumed that being an introvert meant you didn't like to be with people, and being an extrovert meant you did. It made perfect sense that I wasn't that into MNO as an introvert, but there was more to it. I don't dislike being with people. I enjoy family gatherings, small group discussions, meeting other moms at the park, and joining friends for coffee. However, that's not how I energize myself when I'm feeling low.

Being an introvert vs. an extrovert is more about how you refuel when you need to recharge your batteries. An a-ha moment for sure. Somehow I had managed to find myself in a group of extroverts who thrived on being able to go out once a month (or more) and let loose, have a few glasses of wine, and be part of a big group in a festive atmosphere. 

I, however, much prefer to go out during the day. I am not a night person. I absolutely hate leaving my babies at night. (Even my oldest "baby" who is now almost six.) I don't feel recharged; I feel on edge and restless. I need "mom" time, just like every mom does, but in a different way.

What do I do instead? I do the things that help me (not the mom next door, or my best friend, or well-meaning relatives) to refocus and enjoy parenting with a clear, relaxed mind. I get up early to have some quiet time for reading, writing, and thinking. I employ the use of a sitter a few hours a week (early in the day) when Hubby is out to sea for extended periods. When I meet with friends it's during the day, not at night, not at bedtime. I arrange mom/kid play dates with one or two other families at a time, and avoid big, organized "mom and tot" events.

And that is what works for this introverted Momma.

How about you? What energizes you?

Thanks for reading and have a blessed day.


mommynts said... [Reply to comment]

I'm with you! I always enjoyed my MOPS group, but we were right in the next room from the kids, and my baby, who was still nursing, was with me during the meeting. But I was still getting support and connection with the other Moms, and "time to myself", even if she was with me. My husband and I rarely use sitters, both for financial and personal reasons. We like to spend family time with the kids, not away from them.
When I was nursing each of them, I didn't want to be away from them because it was harder to NOT nurse when they needed to be nursed. As you know, supply & demand works well, and if your baby is getting hungry, you are getting "full", which is not comfortable. And it is such a pain to pump, what is the point of leaving them, just to have to worry about all that? So, we'd leave for an hour, hour and a half, then come back when it was time to feed the baby.
Having said that, yes, I need "me-time" too, but not extended, like hours away to "let loose". I need about an hour away, most days, to go workout at Curves. My me-time, my exercise time, good for me all around. My husband understands what I need, and does his best to make it happen.

Shawna said... [Reply to comment]

I understand exactly how you feel!

Lydia said... [Reply to comment]

I loved this! I've long been uneasy with the concept of leaving babies as a must for Mommies. I do go to a weekly meet up with my closest friends and have for years, but the babies always come with their Mamas. Honestly, even that is sometimes a bit much for me. I get energized being at home in my own little house, sewing or knitting while my kids sleep nearby. I've also noticed a similar trend with "date night." My husband and I spent years trying to go on dates and not understanding why it wasn't relaxing and fun for us. The truth is, both of us are happier and more relaxed spending time together at home in the evenings. Great article!

Beth said... [Reply to comment]

Absolutely me too. I always feel a bit awkward and under pressure to get a babysitter for an evening out rather than looking forward to it. The best christmas present I got this year was a nice long soak in the bath during the day while close family entertained the babes. I'm not dying for a big night out at all. However this introvert married an extrovert and I have to remember his needs are different to mine as much as I hope he appreciates the way I am too.

Amy G said... [Reply to comment]

I work as a full-time public school teacher so maybe that's part of why it seems so absurd to purposely leave my family at home at night after I spend all day working with other people who are nowhere near as cool as my husband and child. To me, recharging is coming home to my family, working on dinner together, playing together, and relaxing before we hit the grind again the next day. The few times I've been invited (or obligated) to go out with co-workers, it's so awkward and I find myself desperate to get home even though we haven't been nursing for almost a year. I don't currently have any mom friends here (we're new to the city/country) but when I do meet some, I hope any get-togethers will be to have our kids play together, not to escape from them. And like Lydia said above, my husband and I haven't been out on a "date" since before our son was born 3 years ago. For us a perfect date is getting our son in bed at a decent time, making coffee or tea, and talking or relaxing with Netflix!

Cmom said... [Reply to comment]

I actually love Moms' Night Out (or in since we usually go over someone's house to keep it inexpensive). But I wouldn't suggest that every mom SHOULD love it. I agree that time doing whatever you need to refuel is best and that is an individual thing. I enjoy meeting with my mom friends, having some good food, a little wine and lots of good conversation which normally is challenging with kids around.

shortstack said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for sharing! I always feel a little guilty about not getting out and socializing more with my Son, (who is now 29 months) but, transportation and finances won't always allow it and, i'm also an introvert. The only person to watch my Son, before he was a year and a half, was a my Husband. So far, we've only left my Son with his Grandparents and, recently, his Aunt, for a Date night. We've only had two since our Son was born. We stay at home, enjoy some wine, watch a movie or, do individual things we enjoy while our Son is napping or, down for the night. We went on "Family Dates" until my Son's desire to sate his curiousity with exploration at restaurants, (i.e. he would only stay in a highchair or, lap for 15-20 min. before becoming restless). That's when my Husband and I stopped eating at restaurants with our Son, (it stopped being a pleasurable experience and more stressful and anxiety ridden). Now that our son is 29 months, we feel a lot better about having family watch him but, we still don't go out and do a lot of things. We're happiest at home. =)

Sheila said... [Reply to comment]

I'm with you. I can't stand mom's night out. I'm not introverted -- I just don't like being away from my family. My ideal "recharge" is hanging out with one or two friends, who also have kids, for an afternoon while the kids play.

Recently I was invited to a "Mom's Margarita Night." I'm pregnant, so I wouldn't be having any margaritas. My son's almost two, so he'd be fine at home with dad -- in fact, he might be in bed before I left -- but I'd still miss him and worry and freak out because that's just the way I am. Besides, I don't know many of the people there. I prefer hanging out with my husband or my close friends. I find it stress-inducing to try and socialize with people I don't know well.

Eh, maybe I am introverted. I get really lonely if I don't get to hang out with friends, but big parties don't energize me either.

Jennifer said... [Reply to comment]

this article makes complete sense. I used to work in a sales position...and I was alone all day (except when making sales calls) I longed for people. NOW, I am home all day with my boys and I long for alone time! I thought maybe I was just experiencing a complete personality change, but I guess not.

Erin said... [Reply to comment]

My husband and I are both introverts with an extroverted toddler. As much as I like to have family time at home, my husband and I NEED to get away while our daughter plays with Baba. We've learned to leave after she goes down for nap. We'll have a late picnic lunch and walk at the park or just go shopping and talk to each other in the car.

Mama Mo said... [Reply to comment]

I never thought about it that way... I always assumed there was something "wrong" with either me or the groups of moms I would try to hang out with. But I truly am more of an introvert. Aha! True light bulb moment here. Thanks!

Whozat said... [Reply to comment]

Now that Peeper is 3 (and for a little while now) I really enjoy my Mama-Time (including MNO with my MOMS Club) but I didn't leave when she was a baby.

FWIW, our MOMS Club welcomes infants to MNO and other MOMS-only events. (Of course, there are locations that might not be cool to take one sometimes.)

Basically, if they don't run around and we don't have to censor our language, they are welcome to come.

I wish I'd been involved (and believed them about the babies ok thing) when Peeper was younger.

Rina said... [Reply to comment]

Funny you mention that about introverts & extroverts. We learned the exact same thing when we did the Alpha Marriage Course. It has helped us tremendously. I need to be with a bunch of people to get my energy back but my husband needs time to be alone & unwind. We're finding now that we're parents we need to make time for both of us to re-energize in our own way. Its an adjustment but now that our daughter is 8 months old we're finally getting the hang of it.

dawn said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for sharing and explaining - I always felt this way too but thought that it wasn't normal. You mentioned a piece of scripture that helped with this. What passage was it?

Momma in Progress said... [Reply to comment]

It was mentioned in the book we read, Jill Savage's Real Moms Real Jesus. However, as part of the study we also read through all of Matthew, and so it corresponded a lot with the times Jesus would withdraw to go pray.

Lara K said... [Reply to comment]

I absolutely LOVE this post and I am so happy to have found it! For two years now, I have felt like no one else in the world feels the way I do - but I just have absolutely no interest in going out at night without my little one. My friends are all urging me to do girls nights out (actually, they have stopped - they urged for about a year and then gave up on me). But nighttime is sacred at our house, it means bedtime and bedtime means nursing and cuddles and songs and lying together holding each other. Why would I want to give up all that awesomeness just to go out with other adults?! So, I have no night life but I have an amazing homelife with wonderful evenings. And, as I blogged about recently, I've discovered the joys of "date days" with my husband (ie, taking vacation time together at home while our little one is at daycare, which she adores). So, it's all good! Glad to have found your blog. :)

Maurice.W said... [Reply to comment]

Joining a support group really helped me a lot with my problem I highly suggest anyone who has problems to let them all out in a support group.
working moms support group nyc

Erin said... [Reply to comment]

I came over to this blog via the Parent 'Hood link up at Joy's. I'm so glad I did!
I've been musing over this similar issue for a while. I am an extrovert. But, I really, really don't like just hanging out with moms groups. I am still struggling to figure out what I hate about it so much. I love being a mom. Super love it! But, to get together with other moms and drudge up all the drudgery of parenting? No thank you! I long to talk to people about things that matter. I don't want to discuss what sort of vegetable to mash up for a 10 month old, or how much your kid can't figure out potty training, or how you feel guilty buying a happy meal. AH!!!! It kills me. I only recently found a couple of friends who I feel are real kindred spirits. And I am so grateful! But I still don't want to hang out with a bunch of ladies for MNO. I'd rather hang with my husband on the couch!

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