Pets, Introversion, and Adoption


We got a cat about a month ago and named her Koshka (the Russian word for ‘cat’) because naming a cat ‘cat’ makes me smile.  We would’ve gone for ‘dog’ for complete irony, but ‘Sabaka’ is too long a name 🙂

Pre-Koshka, I never would’ve labelled myself as a “cat person,” but I’m coming to see that I was just always in denial.  This doesn’t mean that I go around using my exaggerated baby voice calling her my “Fluffykins, or Baby-poo,” but it does mean that I like having her as a little companion.  She’s very friendly, independent, quirky, and just a tad bit mischievous as all cats should be.  Did I mention that she’s independent?  (This is very important).  Ethan says that I like her because she’s the cat version of me.  Hmm…

I’m very happy that I got her, but honestly, I was extremely hesitant to get any kind of pet after last year’s dog-sitting fiasco.  The worst part about dog-sitting this shih-tzu was not that it immediately ran into a busy road as soon as I got it to my house, or that it peed wherever it felt like, or even that it barked all night long for 3 consecutive nights (0% exaggeration).  The worst part was, it never left me alone for a moment.  I felt as if this little dog was invading every last inch of my life; it followed me EVERYWHERE and whined when it couldn’t.  Yes, I felt violated by a little shih-tzu.

So what’s the big deal, you ask?  Out of that list, you choose that as the problem? Yes, because you see, I am an introvert working off a deficit of never being alone.

For most of my life, growing up as the oldest girl in a large home schooled family meant that I was constantly caring for young children and as any caretaker of young children knows, they rarely leave you alone unless they’re getting in trouble. Also, in our house, although 10 out of 11 of us are introverts, being alone was considered by my mother to be both unneeded and very selfish.  We had no locks on the doors, and all of us shared rooms: there was no place for personal space and privacy was non-existent.  Eventually, all of us found some way to be alone.  I played music and started running–because no one wanted to run with me.  All of my brothers found different ways to be alone: some through gaming, others through spending time in the woods. I don’t say this to put down large families, simply to explain why I have such a great need now to be alone.

For me, I can only be creative when I’m alone.  Having my alone time is not imperative every day, but if I’ve had several without ample alone time, I am physically and mentally exhausted.  Life would be much easier if I was an extrovert.  I’ve many times wished I was one (it would make parties much less awkward).

Teaching piano and voice lessons on a schedule that I create, helps me to plan in time to be alone.  It’s ideal for me. I have time to be creative, to reflect, write, compose and whatever else.

All this to say, my need to be alone plays a very important part as Ethan and I are discussing the possibility of one day adopting kids.  I’ve done a good bit of child-rearing and it seems that alone time is not part of parental vocabulary; especially not for a woman.  For those mothers who are introverts, what are your strategies for being alone while child-rearing? 

On a slightly different note, this is a wonderful TED talk on the subject.



  1. I don’t know that I have any answers…but it’s interesting to me that my cat is the one companion who is always welcome. And that’s because just my presence is enough for him…he loves to tuck his face in my ribcage and sleep with a paw thrown over my chest as I’m working, We spend our evenings curled up in a pile, his fluffy softness wrapped around my bony corners. I adore him, ridiculously so, and mostly because of the things that are least child-like about him (particularly his long white whiskers and pink padded feet). I can leave him alone for while I’m away at the office,he’s good at telling me exactly what he needs, he chooses to spend time with me because he WANTS to, not because he needs to be fed/diapered/rocked/prevented from gouging his eyes out. And when he’s in rambunctious punk teenage boy mode, well, he only weighs 7 lbs, so it’s quite simple to just pick him up and move him.

    • Charis–I know what you mean. I love that I can leave my cat at home for however long, and she’s my greeting party when I return. I’m pretty crazy about her 🙂

  2. Well as you know as a fellow introvert (though probably not quite as much as you). Having children is a totally different kind of invasion. One you can’t get rid of legally.. LOL totally kidding you probably can (Wow I’m an awful person). Now that i have digressed quickly and shamefully… The thing about kids is watching them change. It’s rewarding every time you see your kid make a good decision, its uplifting when your kid still loves you the next day even when you weren’t the nicest parent ever. It’s neat to see all the things that they aspire to do and how they do and don’t want to be like you. Each one of them is totally different and are interesting in their own way. All that to say that you do sacrifice a good bit of your day, but its doesn’t feel that way because you feel rewarded for your effort. Also you get plenty of time to your self you just need mandatory nap time from 9am – 6:30pm until they are old enough to move out (again i jest). No but really bed time 8pm – 9pm Freedom from then until you can’t keep your eyes open.. lol

    • Haha, love it! As to the serious parts, thanks for the insight–that’s good to keep in mind. Also, I think it helps if your kids are fun to be around like yours are 😉

  3. I am one of eight. My mom is an introvert and somehow managed it. I think a couple of her methods of dealing with it were excellent: She never entertained us herself once we were past a certain age. That meant she could kick us out the door and expect us not to come looking for her unless we had some basic need (don’t bother me unless you are dying). She also took chances to run errands without us. When it got particularly bad she retreated to her walk-in closest where she had a foam mattress on the floor in the corner. If the door was closed we weren’t even allowed to knock on it on pain of death. 🙂

    Even when we were older she would sometimes have mandatory rest time in the afternoon. We stayed in our rooms on our beds and read books or drew on the walls or whatever.

    I’m going to guess that your biggest help with be a supportive husband. If he understands, then he can help set up plans to GET you the time you need.

    I’m not married, and don’t have kids, but I know all about half-raising younger siblings. Sometimes I am terribly glad I didn’t have kids young because of that. 🙂

  4. Susanna in NH says

    Wow, Anna, this hit home for me. I am an introvert, also raised in a large homeschooling family, and – wouldn’t you know – I am learning how to deal with being a new mom. I was so worried before my little guy came along that I would suffocate from a lack of “alone-time.” The concept of having someone dependent on you 24/7 (cause, really, even when my very helpful husband is home, I have a really hard time turning my mom-senses off) was exhausting. I’ve heard suggestions from moms of kids old enough to entertain themselves, but what do you do for the years when you always have one in diapers? I’m only six months in, but the thimbleful of wisdom I’ve acquired is to relish the fun stuff (the giggles, the new skills, the big slobbery kisses) and just get through the days (or nights) that seem endless. To my surprise, I’ve found that – kind of like going through childbirth – I can make it through a lot more than I ever expected. That’s good. It’s empowering. It’s revealing of how much I need to depend on God in order to be the mom my baby needs. All that said – I do slip away for errands on my own, and try to use nap-times to rest, renew and/or create. My older sister suggested to me that when I am ready, I find a babysitter I trust, add his or her fee under recurring “necessary expenses” in my budget and go guilt-free to the beach (or wherever one’s happy place is), on a regular basis. Love that idea! In the mean-time, although our lives have been turned upside down, and I’ve cried some big fat tears and thrown some grown-up tantrums when I feel like I haven’t gotten my alone-fixes, the really-good stuff FAR outweighs the not-as-good stuff and I would do it again.

    • Thanks so much for your honesty and insight, Susanna. I really appreciate it. I do hope that you get some good beach days in when Adrian is old enough 😉

  5. I’m an introvert and I homeschool my children and I am not yet crazy. I teach violin part time and that really helps. Often I intentionally schedule gaps between my students so I can be in silence.
    I worried about NEVER being alone once I had children but I can assure you that you will feel differently about your own children than your siblings. I think being a “parent” to siblings can really cause a lot of resentment. My kids are awesome, love them to pieces and there are days I walk out the door the second my husband comes home so that I can be in silence and you know what? I don’t feel one bit guilty about that….I used to but not any more. I need the quiet and my kids need a happy mom. Good Luck! Adoption rocks!

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