Originally Posted by Lemon Lady
Thanks for that clarification kmcmommy. I am a personality researcher (of sorts) and felt I should be able to respond to that post but couldn't think of a clear, non-academic answer.
I knew I couldn't be the only HSP mom out here. I identify with so much of what has been said. I have always found it difficult to manage as an HSP, especially since I'm also an HSS (high sensation-seeker; Elaine Aron talks about that combination in her book). Becoming a parent has added a new dimension. I generally can't just retreat when I get overwhelmed, as I was once able to do. In a way, it has forced me to honor and appreciate my sensitivity more since the costs of getting overwhelmed will not only be borne by me, but also by my family. I have found it particularly difficult to deal with working and parenting. Even having cut my work hours back drastically, it is hard to make time and space to retreat. I envy those hardy mothers who work full-time, cutting back on sleep and food and whatever else the human body normally needs. I can do none of that. I'd break down after one day of less than 8 hours of sleep and skipped meals! I just can't function day-to-day on the slowly health-eroding behaviors that are so common among Americans. On the other hand, I am glad my body forces me to take care of it. I think that's one reason why people always think I am much younger than I actually am.
I think that attachment parenting has helped me to cope better than other parenting styles more widely practiced in the U.S. No way could I stand to lie in bed listening to my baby cry himself to sleep. Something in my gut rebels against that. He is a high-need, super-energetic person. Keeping him close most of the time has kept him calm. Like a PP, my son never cried when he was with me, as an infant (he cries plenty as a toddler, unfortunately). And it's not like he was the type of baby that just doesn't cry. He'd unleash with his father, but I think I was just able to anticipate and respond to his needs very well.
The parenting research is pretty clear on the fact that sensitive, responsive parenting is one of the most important determinants of children's attachment and well-being. If that's the case, it seems that sensitive moms can have an advantage as long as we manage the downsides that can lead us to becoming overwhelmed and withdrawing or lashing out.
I'll share a few of the ways I cope:
- Get up well ahead of DS in the morning to ensure I get some quiet time
- Take DS on long walks or runs in the stroller or backpack so that we can both have some time with nature (being outside always calmed him)
- Go to bed with DS to ensure I get enough sleep (The downside is that I get absolutely no time in the evening with DH, but I'd be no good without sleep. DH is usually wiped out anyway, wanting his own quiet time. He's also an HSP.)
- Leave the TV off when DH is not home and have him wear wireless headphones when the TV noise gets to be too much
- Sleep with white noise on always
- Take at least a few minutes each morning to breathe and stretch
Despite those things, I'm still working on the whole concept of actually capitalizing on my sensitivity rather than just trying to manage it. A really good resource I have found is http://highlysensitivesouls.com/assessment.htm
. She offers an assessment of whether your sensitivity is working for or against you. I wasn't surprised at the results, but it was a good reminder that I could actually benefit from being an HSP rather than just "managing". There is also an e-mail newsletter available at that site that I have found helpful, a little something to draw my attention back to where it needs to be.
Thanks to everyone for sharing! I hope to hear from others.
Thanks so much for the link and for the very thoughtful and thought provoking discussion. I just filled out my assessment, but wonder if I'm going to have trouble getting results, as I have a yahoo email account. I can predict what it's going to say, because even though I have acceptance for who I am, I'm rather short on the self-care and self-soothing aspects.
I keep thinking I'm liking your perspective on things quite a bit. I was where you are with regards to the work/home thing a while ago. I tried so hard to make it work, and failed miserably. I was letting my family down and my job and myself. I didn't want to walk away from my job, but as it was, I just couldn't make it work. Maybe if I only had 1 child, but I got pregnant so soon after the first that it totally tipped the scales. I may not have quit if I only had one.
Because I'm determined to know my kids better than my mom cared to know me and my siblings, I'm studying personality too. It's partly because I have children like me, bright and sensitive, but since I don't have great coping skills, I didn't have any idea how to teach them good coping skills. AP for infants worked pretty well, but it wasn't until toddlerhood and preschool that I realized AP isn't enough (and AP totally made sense for me in the infant-early toddler stage, even as my family all warned me to "put that baby down" from day 1 - phooey on them). But as my dd2 got to middle toddlerhood (about 3), I needed to find other answers because there was something going on with her that I didn't understand at the time.
Dd2 would have these horrible meltdowns over seemingly benign things. For a while I was going down the wrong track, thinking something was "wrong" with her (I thought maybe she had Asperger's or some other social development/personality disorder), and it was creating a really destructive dynamic (because sometimes I mistakenly thought she was just being stubborn on purpose, or people like my family would just try to pass judgment). Until I dug a lot deeper, got the HSChild and The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child and realized she was an introverted HSC with very few coping/self-soothing skills. She's one that needs to be taught, and I'm the one to have to teach her them. Only, my mom never taught me how special my gifts were, or the challenges that went with being an introverted HSC (and of course at the time, it wasn't even in possible to know much about parenting aside from word of mouth techiques), she just spent my childhood and early adulthood trivializing my whole experience.
It's been a very long journey, and I have a way to go to help dd2. But she is much better than she has been in a long time. And I respect her feelings a lot more than I used to (even though I really need to invest in earplugs, because sometimes she's unhappy and I'm not in a very receptive mood for her expressions of unhappiness).
Anyway, this is for me, the greatest blessing I've gotten from quitting my job and trying to work harder at understanding my children. I'm becoming really in awe of who they are because I'm not trying to force them into something they are not. And I have the luxury of time to do be able to do that.
I know I'm prone to dancing on the edge of depression, because I forgot the simple things like self-care and taking time to figure out what it is that restores me (and I'm finding out that it's not a job at the moment, but it is being creative, and having a sense of direction, and most recently, I have an outlet for all my wayward thoughts. I started a blog, and I'm pretty excited about it - once I get more on it, I'll probably put it in my signature). My family still influences how I feel about myself, particularly because they still don't get it. They still don't understand who I am and why I choose to do things differently (and why I value people over things). They don't have a complex inner world that totally consumes them at times like I do. They think rather narrowly, and it has put me totally in another dimension from them.
Fortunately, my kids are like me. I get them and they will always have that support I didn't get. Because I'm taking the time to find out about them, learning as I go, but getting closer to the answers every day. It's absolutely wonderful!