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.