A friend was telling me about the book, The Highly Sensitive Person In Love not too long ago, and after reading this description of the book from Elain Aron’s website, I knew I had to add it to my collection of books. I already had the Highly Sensitive Child, and am well aware of how high sensitivity can add a complex element to one’s temperament. I know I am a highly sensitive person, scoring a 24 out of 27 on the self-test. I always suspected that my sensitivity has given me difficulties in many areas of my life.
I recently wrote the following to that friend of mine:
I found some validation in the HSP in love book about something related to parenting. [I think it’s very salient for me and other highly sensitive parents that might have difficulties in their parenting roles]. This passage really hit home:
Once HSW’s and HSM’s recover from the birth of their children (I’ve seen both react strongly), they usually become highly responsive parents….
At the same time, however, HSP’s can have a strong sense that they are terrible at parenting. If you are a highly sensitive parent, you know what I mean. You are often irritable, depressed, lack energy, want to get away, want to express your other talents, or secretly think how much better life would be without children. Parenthood is a huge responsibility and source of stimulation.
I have thought, up until about 2 days ago, that there was something wrong with me…that I was too self-centered to have been a mother, because I had/have these feelings. All of them. Including the one about thinking life would be better without children. In fact, I started this blog a year and a half ago to help me record the GOOD things about being a mother, and diffuse some of the depression and helplessness I felt about being completely overwhelmed by the task of mothering, especially the overwhelming stresses of being a highly sensitive mother parenting a highly sensitive child who was selectively mute.
Even though I know that having 3 children in 3.5 years might take a toll on anyone, I always thought that I was particularly incapable of rising to the task. I thought it was something evil in me that made me want to not be a mother. I think now that it has less to do with something inherently evil in me, and more that my temperament is such that it makes the challenge all that much harder. I feel responsible for EVERYTHING that goes wrong, even the fact that all three of them grind their teeth at night (must somehow be my fault, right?)
I do get overstimulated by my kids, more so when I don’t sleep well or eat well. I definitely need more sleep. Last night I went to bed at 9 pm and woke up at about 5 to move into one of my daughter’s beds because my two younger children climbed into bed with my husband and I in the middle of the night. There was no more room and I was getting hot and squished. Then I slept in until 7:30. It was nice.
I know I need to get more sleep, eat more frequently (I have been skipping meals again), maybe even take a class to learn how to mediate or do yoga or something. My self-care skills aren’t the highest priority and they really should be.
Now that everything I had to get done this month is pretty much done (and I don’t have to shuttle the kids back and forth anywhere), I can relax and come up with some sort of self-care plan.