The Struggle is Real: Introverted Mama Raising an Extrovert

Earlier this week, I admitted to a friend how utterly exhausted I was, not physically, but mentally. I felt overextended, at the end of my rope. I confessed that some days I fantasized about sitting alone in pure silence. I needed some space. I’m an introvert; I desperately need time alone to recharge my batteries. When I don’t get it, I feel drained.  Lately, at the end of the day, I couldn’t summon the energy to listen and engage with my son as much as I knew I should… Instead, I’d tune out the noise and imagine myself in a quiet room, no one asking me questions or needing my help, until another “Mom!” would abruptly break me out of my spell.

Sound awful? It did to me, and mom-guilt was ever present, weighing heavily on my heart. I felt contrary to everything I believed I, as a mother, was supposed to be. I should want to listen attentively to every sweet word that came from my child’s mouth, yet instead, I was selfishly letting him down.

Graciously, rather than responding from a place of judgement, my friend kindly smiled and nodded, gently observing that my son was a LOT of work; more work, in fact, than her two children combined- how did I do it? Surprised by my friend’s reaction, I relaxed, fully appreciative of her understanding and support.  With a few kind words, she had reassured me, validated me, and my self-doubt melted away.

It is true, my son is a lot; non-stop activity is all I have ever known (trust me, I’m beyond grateful he’s healthy and active)., and most days, I can keep up. But when I don’t have even a minute to decompress, especially over the course of several days, the weariness catches up with me.

You see, unlike me, my son is an extrovert; he feeds off of human interaction as much as I need a break from it. He needs to talk and engage as much as I need silence & “me” time. We do our best to meet in the middle, but it’s a delicate dance, a balancing act on a tightrope. But when I became a mother, isn’t this is what I promised to do, even welcomed with open arms? To be there for my child, to support and nurture him, and to do everything possible to keep him healthy, safe, unjudged, and loved.

Like most mamas, I try my hardest to put my own needs in the background until they simmer up to the surface, demanding my attention. Every day, I try to focus instead on the amazing human my son is becoming. His sweet smile can turn the worst day around; his profound wisdom can catch me off-guard (how is it possible for a 6-year old to know SO much?). His enormous heart is pure gold. The world needs more people like him, and I’m privileged to witness his growth.

And yet. Some days I am humbled by the demands on my time and attention. Those days, I’m on autopilot.  I feel like I’m failing, letting myself and my child down. But I just keep going, because what other choice is there? I signed up for this! And somehow, every single time, some saving grace comes along to float me toward shore, getting me through.

Every day, I try to remember to reflect with appreciation and gratitude on what a blessing it is to be his mommy. Despite the challenges and the endless tests to my patience (not a virtue of mine), I would not change one single thing. I’ve been granted the responsibility, no, the privilege, of helping guide this beautiful person through life. He is a gift, a bright star, a caring, thoughtful, sensitive soul. I GET to be his safe place in this crazy world, a soft cushion for him to land on. That’s my job. Image by Heidi Borst
by Heidi Borst
"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Julie C.
"Dr. Matheis has a remarkable ability to understand the unique needs of her patients and address them constructively. She builds strong, meaningful relationships with patients and their families, encouraging trust and collaboration. When working with my son who struggles with autism-related anxiety, she created an environment in which he was able to calm down and open up to her in ways I had not seen before. She was able to reach him and helped him work through his crisis/problem. Most importantly, she empowered him to move forward."
- N.L.
"Dr. Matheis is amazing. She has tremendous resources and loads of energy. She is not willing to accept anything less than the most effective results for her clients. She made me feel as if my son was her top priority throughout the entire process. I would, without reservation, give her my highest recommendations.  Thank you, Dr. Matheis!"
- Anonymous
"Dr. Matheis has an amazing ability to read kids and connect with them. She has been an invaluable resource for our family over the past several years and has helped us with everything from educational consulting, to uncovering diagnoses as well as family therapy. Working with Dr. Matheis never feels clinical and most importantly, our children love and trust her. We can not thank you enough Dr. Liz!"
- Anonymous
"My teenage son had been seeing Dr. Matheis through his senior year of high school, as he was only diagnosed with ADHD at 16 years old.  Dr. Matheis came highly recommended from our pediatrician and she has done wonders for our son as well as our family, navigating new ways for him to deal with his diagnosis without the use of medication.  She taught him ways to organize himself and even when something did not work for him, she patiently continued teaching him new ways to keep himself on track.  She has also helped us as parents to understand how his mind works so that we did not continue to blame his lack of focus on him, rather on his unique way of thinking.  Thank you Dr. Matheis!!!!"
- LG
"Dr. Liz is the best! Our family was directed to her by our Pediatrician to assist with figuring out severe mood changes, severe anxiety, strange new fears and food aversion that had come onto one of our children literally overnight. After just a couple of visits, she suggested that the issues may actually be rooted in a physical issue and suggested we immediately take our child to be swabbed for strep, because Dr. Liz suspected PANDAS (a pediatric autoimmune disorder brought on by strep). The same Pediatrician that suggested Dr. Liz would not do the swab (they do not believe in PANDAS and we no longer go there) but I took my child to my doctor who did the swab and it was positive for strep. When our child went on antibiotics, within 24 hours all symptoms went away and our child was back :-) Dr. Liz then recommended a PANDAS specialist who helped us and our child is in complete remission and is happy and healthy. We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Liz for her knowledge of all things, even the most remote and unusual and for helping us so much! Thank you!"
- Anonymous
"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Anonymous
"Thank you, Dr. Liz. Although we have told you countless times, it will never feel enough. You have listened when J could barely speak and continued to listen when he was sad, angry and confused. You've challenged him and directed us in our roles as parents. You've helped J face his fears while the list evolved and changed, and yet you've stayed committed to 'the course.' We pray that your children realize that time away from them is spent helping children learn and that vulnerability is a sign of strength and bravery."
- June I
"My son was admitted to an Ivy League school when only 2 years ago, you assessed him and saw his struggles, his Dyslexia. We are grateful that he no longer has to carry that deep feeling of inadequacy or shame that must have kept him so self conscious and from reaching his potential. He has the PERFECT program for him. He has A's in high math and economics. He became a Merit Scholar, a Boys State legislature, the HEAD captain of the football team and help a job ALL while studying and managing his classes and disability. I am PROUD of you, a young doctor, who knows and sees the vulnerability of children and helps them recognize "it's NO big deal" God bless."
- Anonymous

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​Livingston, NJ 07039