Dear Mouse: I See You

Dear Mouse,

You went to a birthday party today and your father’s report was… well, not great.  It seems you spent most of the time being a barnacle on your daddy’s leg, despite the kind efforts of other kids to get you to play.  In fact, your daddy told me you were pretty unkind to one of the kids, and that hurt my heart a bit.

This is your modus operandi: Somewhere, based on some mysterious something, the social part of you will just shut down.  No manner of encouragement and familiarity can crack the shell.  In fact, it usually makes it worse.  It’ll take you hours to warm up when you get like this, and by then, the event is over.  Then you’re sad with very little understanding of how your behavior played a role in your disappointing situation.

It isn’t always like this, mind you.  Other times, you stride into situations with confidence, all grrrl power.  At the park I’ve seen you strike up conversations with kids and I’d swear you are four years old going on ten.  You’ll stand up to things you think are wrong, even when it is hard.  When you started transitional kindergarten with 24 kids in your class, you didn’t even blink.

But… in times when I least expect it, you have the hardest time, like today.  You had two friends at that party you’ve known all your life (we, your parents, were all in the same birth class), and a bunch of the other kids were from that transitional kindergarten class.  Why you just clam up for two hours, I have no idea.

You pretty much came out of the womb this way.  You’ve always had an intense, absolutely mysterious way of regarding people.  Some situations were just big ol’ fails.  We never could really understand why, but it sure did stress us out.

“Hello, nice to meet you, oh, my baby seems terrified of you and won’t stop screaming until you leave.  I love your shoes, goodbye!”  It made for awesome small talk.

Then later when you were a toddler, there would be times (often) at the park when you wanted to do nothing but sit on a bench with me and stare at the other kids.  For hours.  I could tell you had interest in participating, but nothing could get you off that bench.  Then you’d be broken-hearted that we had to leave, because you didn’t get a chance to play.

I’m sorry, sweetie.

You see, it appears that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I spent most of my life having these same inexplicable waves of shyness.  Even right up until college, there would be times that I’d be in groups and not utter a word for hours.  Then there were other times that I’d surprise even myself by being able to navigate a completely foreign social scene.  I was never good at predicting which it would be.  My mind’s eye could not see myself, couldn’t understand my own swirl of emotions.

The thing is, I was largely reformed by the time you came around.  Mind you, I’m still not a super social butterfly.  Still, I don’t get knots in my stomach at random times any longer, and I’m competent in most social situations (I’d like to think).  Imagine my surprise upon realizing that there must be some kind of “random fits of shyness” gene, and I’d passed it to you!

I know how it feels to get all tongue-tied when you have so much to say.  When you do manage words, sometimes they’re not the right ones.  I know what it is like to feel knotted up without understanding why.  You’re only coming up on five years old, but I can see what we share this trait, mother and daughter.

One day, when you’re convinced that I don’t understand you at all, when I couldn’t possibly know how you feel, I hope you’ll read this letter.

I know that we are not one and the same.  You are an amalgamation of me, your father, and maybe some pixie dust.  You are growing up on your own terms, in your own time.  I’ll try never to presume anything about your path in life.

Yet, being your mother is like letting a little part of myself walk separately from me.  You may be mixed up in a different cocktail of life, destined for a different future, but you’ll always feel like a part of me.

No matter where you end up in life, no matter how far away you get, I hope one day you’ll read this letter and know.  Even when you can’t see yourself… I see you.

Barnacle on your daddy's arm.

Barnacle on your daddy’s arm.

254 Comments on “Dear Mouse: I See You”

  1. Mardra says:

    Jisun, the way you weave words and delve into the tapestry of your children, it’s so lovely.
    In fact I often struggle with writing the right comment. But I want you to know I was here and this is awesome and I love that you share it. From now on I’ll just wink.
    (which I just looked up how to do – that’s how much you inspire me)
    And you’ll know I was here and loved it.


    – Mardra

    • jisun says:

      Aw, thank you Mardra! I love writing about the kids, it helps me sort out my (complicated) feelings. I’m sure you’re no stranger to complicated parent feelings though! I wink back at you. ;-)

  2. Miriam says:

    I find that seeing myself in my kids creates a lot of mixed emotions. My oldest (now 22) is a lot like me, and we have a complicated relationship. I read something the other day that said that mothers preferred their kids that resembled them the most- I actually vehemently disagree with the idea that we will “prefer” any of our kids… what a horrid thought. I think we just relate differently to each child depending on the way their personality intersects with ours.
    But it can be hard to see ourselves in our kids, when they’re doing something we’ve struggled with. Our natural instinct is to want to smooth the way, to make everything right, yet we know that we can’t do that.

    • jisun says:

      Really? So physical resemblance? That is so interesting. I do not like any idea of preference either. I’ll say that I have the hardest time working out my feelings with Mouse because we are so similar. Chipmunk is so much like her father, it seems much more straightforward to me.

      That instinct to smooth the way… yes, so very true. One of the hardest things for me about parenting is *not* parenting sometimes.

      • Miriam says:

        Sorry, not physical resemblance, just “similarity”- here’s a link: Anyway, I don’t care what “studies” say, I love all my kids equally :-) But some kids are easier to parent than others.
        It’s wonderful that you allow your daughter to go at her own pace with social interactions. It’s much better to let her learn to trust her intuition, take it slow with people.

        • jisun says:

          This is very interesting, because I actually find Mouse to be the most similar to me and the more difficult for me to parent. She and I share so many personality traits that I have a hard time separating out my own feelings from what is happening for her, you know? I suppose as adults, similarity can be helpful. But I’m with you, the idea of preference is kind of a problem in and of itself, it isn’t like I prefer my other kids because I find parenting Mouse a little harder…

  3. ajummama says:

    what a gift you are giving her. i’m sure my parents tried their best but sometimes when i was very emotional or particular, i wish they weren’t so quick to compare me with other seemingly laid-back kids or just label me as “difficult.” i also have to work on allowing my children to be free. i lack a shy bone so when micah was really bashful, i just didn’t get it. sometimes it would be because other kids would hit him and he would freeze and i almost wanted him to hit back because i was so heartbroken. by really seeing your daughter, you can nurture her strengths instead of shaming them away.

    • jisun says:

      “I wanted to hit him because I was so heartbroken.” Yeah, I’ve felt that feeling too. It is hard to watch your kids go through life and have to learn their own lessons. Oh, parenting, so complicated.

      • ajummama says:

        oh, in that scenario i said, “i almost wanted him to hit back” though i know i shouldn’t encourage violence.

        • jisun says:

          Lol. Well I hope you didn’t think I thought you’d ever hit your kid, I never took it that way, just thought you meant extreme frustration.

          I remember watching a kid shove Mouse into a sandbox once and I considered some not so nice options before settling on the higher road. ;)

          • ajummama says:

            no, didn’t think that you thought that i thought that you thought that wait whaaaa?

            just a stickler for accuracy.

            • ajummama says:

              meaning i wanted HIM to hit the kid back

            • jisun says:

              Oh crap. Well I read that comment and thought you were talking about wanting to hit the *other* kid yourself. I need to read more carefully. I’m not even going to go back and edit, everyone who reads this comment thread is going to gave a good laugh at my expense!

              • ajummama says:

                yeah, i could tell you thought i was tryna emphasize the “ALMOST” part of that comment, not the “i wanted my CHILD to hit the other CHILD back,” which i also wouldn’t really wanna encourage.

  4. modernmessy says:

    This is really beautiful, Jisun! And a great reminder to (try) not to get worried if our kids don’t behave like we expect them to, or if their actions seem all over the map. One of my daughters confounds me sometimes b/c she is such a physical daredevil who flips upside down with the greatest of ease and befriends strangers instantly, yet will often act very shy or anxious in a big group. Meanwhile, at home we keep looking for her “off” button b/c she never stops talking!!

    • jisun says:

      She sounds like Mouse! She would go on the scariest rollercoaster but so her to walk into a group of twenty people, no siree! I’ve looked for her “off” button too, it is not easy to listen to someone for 14 hours straight!

  5. Jenny says:

    Beautiful. I hope she reads this one day too :)

    • jisun says:

      Thanks, mama. I read the blogs of moms who have older kids and I know it is just around the corner but I still have such a hard time imagining it. Hope mine turn out as well as yours. :)

  6. Being shy and unable to live up to most everyone’s expectations is really difficult. Being understood is the most important thing. Your daughter will love what you wrote.
    Support and not criticism, what a gift! And what a great post!!!

  7. Maria M says:

    A brilliant post that frightened me a little. You could have been writing about me, only recently I discovered that others suffer from low self esteem as well. She is lucky to have you, as it was down to my great parents and husband that I have survived this world.

    • jisun says:

      Thank you. I felt similarly… There were certain very supportive and important people in my life who helped me through the early years. I really do want her to find the same as she grows up.

  8. sparrow says:

    I love how you address the letter to your daughter. I have a blog about my twins, and I sometimes think of it as a little book I’m writing to them. I enjoyed your writing.

    • jisun says:

      I think of that often, when I write I’m always wondering, “What would it be like to read this in twenty years…” Thank you for commenting! xo

  9. Read Elaine Aron’s books. Read them now. Really.

  10. Awww this is the most adorable post I have read in a long time. I’m at college and my mom is far away from me right now, she used to tell me some of the stuff you addressed in your post all the time. Beautiful :)

  11. quicul says:

    This is wonderful :) Barnacle power!

  12. Choosing says:

    Such a gentle text, so full of insight… I have a boy who used to be very shy – still is, depending on the occasion. But I can see how he is slowly growing wings, doing more and more things that simply amaze me. I am sure your Mouse will grow her wings too… and they will be beautiful.

  13. Such a beautiful letter to your daughter! I myself was extremely shy at school until I just decided to break out at age 10… parents probably wished I had waited til leaving for college to become an extrovert! (In reality, my dad’s a bigger social butterfly than me!)

  14. What an amazing mother you are!!! This post was so encouraging, thank you for sharing (:

  15. Beth says:

    What a gift for your daughter, having a parent who is introverted and has experienced those emotions, fears, reserves, and events that she has yet to walk through and process. I’m the only introvert in a family of extroverts. Further, I’m hyper-introverted. I’m not socially awkward, a hermit, or at odds with my sense of humor. I’m actually not very shy, either. As such, I’m a conundrum to most of the human race. But my needs for solitude, internal processing, and days where I just can’t go to that event or party because being around all those people is enough to make me cry are very real. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand this and try to get introverts “out of their shell”… but like a turtle, our shells are ours. Not theirs. And we might choose not to poke our heads out… It would’ve been far easier to navigate my childhood and teenage years had others in my family been familiar with what I was going through. Your daughter is blessed more than she’ll ever know. Good job, Mom!

    • jisun says:

      I really like your turtle analogy, that the shell is owned as well. Thank you. :)

      • Beth says:

        I had written a post on my blog just prior to reading this entry that touched on this subject. I noted that while I often have to explain my introversion, I don’t apologize for it. None of us should apologize for being who we were designed to be. We’re all unique and should celebrate it… turtle shells and all. Or, as my brother has so eloquently reminded me, “You’re a nerd. Just own it.” (You just have to love the way brothers talk to siblings.) The same applies to those turtle shells we introverts carry around with us.

        • jisun says:

          Ha! I have to admit that I totally talk to my brother this way, he’s 11 years younger. I couldn’t agree with you more about being unapologetic, turtle shells and all.

    • windsbird says:

      Loved your turtle analogy too. It’s very encouraging to read that I’m not the only one preferring my shell than a party full of people. My mother would always cast me a worried look whenever I was too shy to say even a simple ‘hello’ to people, so for a very long time I believed ‘my shell’ was one of my biggest flaws. But like you so greatly put it, our shells are ours and they are beautiful in their own right.

  16. I was a lot like this when I was little, still kinda am. One of my day-care teachers oh-so-politely asked my mom “So what’s wrong with her?” because I preferred to play alone. Thank you for posting and best wishes to your little girl :)

    • jisun says:

      Oh, no! Why are children so ruthlessly analyzed, geez. And then you know the kids who are at the other end are probably labeled as not being independent enough or something. Thank you for the comment! xo

      • Some of my (also smart) friends said that they had teachers when they were little who thought they were autistic for similar reasons. And even when my dad was a kid his kindergarten teacher said he was “immature” because he didn’t draw five fingers on people’s hands and rarely drew hair. I’ve also seen a lot of episodes of family-oriented sitcoms when the parents were concerned about their children not playing with others because of what a teacher or parent said. It’s strange how extroversion is so ingrained into our society. Even more recently when I was outside reading a book in an area where a lot of people walked by during the first week of college an older student felt sorry for me because I was alone. I had to explain to her, “I’m making friends, I promise. I’m just not with them at this moment.”

        • jisun says:

          You know, this is something that has become very clear to me since having a child with a disability. Our society wants so badly to find out “what’s wrong”, when I’m fact, there’s nothing wrong at all. Ppl with autism are not lacking in neurotypicality. People who are introverts are not lacking in extroversion. Everyone is different. Fingers and hair are overrated anyways. ;)

    • jisun says:

      Hm. I had to look it up, and while I haven’t read the descriptions of the other types, I do have to say it does describe me pretty well. I wouldn’t say I withdraw as a way of setting limits, but the rest of it felt pretty right. Now of course I’m going to spend all night reading about the Myers-Briggs personality types…!

  17. Tiare Meegan says:

    A very beautiful letter, and your daughter is so fortunate to have an understanding mother. I can relate and hope that by the time your daughter is grown, that more of the world will be just as understanding as you.

  18. windsbird says:

    Wow. I totally came across your blog by a random chance and your letter is very touching. I am also very introverted and I was extremely unhappy about my introvert qualities during my adolescence. I hated being so quiet and how I take ages to warm up. I still am like that but have come to embrace that it’s just who I am. It’s beautiful to read a mother’s loving gaze on her quiet daughter, and even soothing. Thank you for writing this.

    • jisun says:

      Thank you! I felt the same way about being quiet, I didn’t actually like it, but I was at a total loss on what to do about it. It took me so many years to be ok with it, and only then have I managed to speak up when I need to instead of being the wallflower. I read a bit of your blog, I’m really enjoying it. Of course I might have be a little biased with the Korean connection. :)

      • windsbird says:

        We Koreans get around :)
        As see your letter bringing out so much resonance among us introverts, I couldn’t help but read every single replies to this post. It’s a slightly a strange, and yet wonderful experience to be part of a conversation with large number of introverts – this rarely happens in offline life!

  19. Isabelle Ostrich says:

    This is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing it, I hope your daughter gets to read it one day. Being an introvert does make life somewhat more complicated and difficult at times!

  20. emiliadaffodil says:

    That is such a beautiful letter. I am an introvert. Despite sometimes being eloquent and talkative I can be very quiet and I’m not great at socialising or communicating. My parents didn’t understand it and my mum still tells me I didn’t talk at all when I was younger and it hurts me when she says that. I know I wasn’t even close to perfect or how she expected or wanted me to be but it’s still very painful that she keeps needing to remind me. I don’t remember most of my childhood I’ve blacked a lot of it out.

    I am very glad you see your daughter and can express your thoughts about her. Hopefully she will grow up to be confident in her own way, to be who she is, following her own path.
    Have you read Quiet by Susan Cain?
    It’s about introverts and is amazing.

    • jisun says:

      No, I haven’t read it, I will check it out!

      Being a parent is so difficult in that I have all sorts of ideas about what “should” be, but the reality is never that. And in all that, I’ve really tried to remember that my children are real people, who will grow up with real memories and opinions about their childhoods. Sigh. Parenting is hard. :)

  21. ajummama says:

    wudup Freshly Pressed! so cool to see your post touch many lives. reread this after it was Freshly Pressed. i am an ENFJ so sometimes i actually get jealous of friends who are introverted and get to be more “passive” in the friendship or even in life. but thank God we are all different, otherwise, it’d be too boring.

    • jisun says:

      True, very true. Life would be boring if we were all the same. I bet your introvert friends get jealous of you for different reasons though. I always was jealous of those friends because it seemed so easy for them to reach out to people. I’ve taught myself to do it as an adult, it doesn’t always feel natural to me. But like you said, different strokes!

  22. This was beautiful. I was that child. I still am that child in some ways. I wish someone had written this to me when I was small so I could read it now. Love this.

    • jisun says:

      Aw, thank you, I’m glad you liked it. I also feel like I’ll always have that kid in me, no matter how often I teach myself to be otherwise. Maybe we’re all just carrying around our inner children. :)

  23. Jisun, this is a delicately beautiful perspective of how a mother’s struggle transcends and evolves genetically. Through Mouse you see so much of yourself, and it’s so healthy and imperative that you can relate to that – for you and for her. I am on the other hand; like you and your daughter, I have struggled with bouts of shyness that grip and keep me- unexplainably, but most other times I am a stranger to the label “shy,” so much so that I’ve had trouble identifying with being shy; yet unlike Mouse, my mother feigned her acquired confidence, to the extent she couldn’t even identify with my struggles that were seemingly foreign to any experience she had encountered. But I guess she even passed that, down seeing as though I can’t accept being identified as shy myself. I thank you for the courage to write this letter and you inspire me to love what I see in others and myself. One day when I have a daughter, she will know that the idiosyncrasies she struggles with are what makes her beautiful, unique, and my daughter- an experience we can both share.

    -Kimmy D.

    • jisun says:

      Thank you. It is an evolution, without a doubt. It’s funny, as I’ve grown, I’ve realized that there were so many things my parents had masked as adults but had passed onto me, I wonder if it’ll be the same for Mouse.

      But this: “…she will know that the idiosyncrasies she struggles with are what makes her beautiful, unique, and my daughter…” Yes, that is very much what I want for my daughter as well. xo

  24. I was that child, and so is my son. Sometimes it drives me crazy (for both of us).

    • jisun says:

      Yup. I can’t deny that it drives us both to pull our hair out sometimes. There’s a fine line between supporting her valid feelings, and enabling her to have negative experiences. Thus, the difficulty of parenting. I’m glad to hear your son is like this, so often I feel like Mouse’s behavior is chalked up to her being a girl, and that just never made any sense to me.

  25. Saturn With Earrings says:

    Wow. Beautifully written. I hope you and your daughter have a great relationship. She’s lucky to have such a loving Mom :)

  26. this is so sweet…”being your mother is like letting a little part of myself walk separately from me. ” – beautiful line and so so so heartfelt – mums always have a way, dont know how and from where but they do – no wonder they called angels :)

  27. pezcita says:

    I think you’re absolutely right; a lot of us adults are like this too. Director keeps noticing that my level of talkativeness varies widely at work, and there’s nothing I can really do about that. I generally explain the quiet times as “I’m concentrating on X” or “I haven’t had any coffee yet”, but more often than not, I’m just having a “Mouse Moment”.

    • jisun says:

      Haha, a “Mouse Moment”. I think I will use that from now on. That is exactly how it is. There’s just sometimes when it doesn’t turn on, I have no idea why!

  28. helen1950 says:

    This letter may have been sent to me; am that little girl 60 years on … keeping hugging her xx

  29. Kylie says:

    This is wonderful! My daughter is slow to warm up. Seeing that trait in her helped me realize it was inborn in me, too, and all at once I was able to have compassion for both her and my younger self. I wrote about it, much more cryptically and much less movingly, in a post called “reflection and shadow”. Congratulations on the FP. I’m excited to follow your blog.

  30. mbrennwa says:

    Wow. It’s great to write such a letter to your own kid. But I don’t quite agree with two points. Firstly, while I love my kids, I don’t think of myself being a friend of my kids. I am the father of my kids, and that’s something else. And that’s the second thing: I also observe my kids having difficulties that I had as a kid (and maybe still have them). That’s how I know that it’s not always easy (or even possible) to solve these. As a father I don’t expect my kids to just blink on these things, but I can try to show them how to cope with them.

    • jisun says:

      I have to admit that I’m a little frustrated with your comment. Or, maybe it is a failure of my writing that you’re thinking I made those two points upon which to disagree (I’m open to that possibility). I’m a little unclear on what you mean by expecting one’s kids to “just blink”, but it feels like you’re implying that I don’t have healthy limits with my children and don’t help them through difficulties.

      I happen to agree with you. My job isn’t to be a friend rather than a parent, and as a parent, we show our children how to solve problems so they can make their way in the world. Neither of those was really part of my intent in writing this, however. I wrote it because I realized that there was something I shared with my daughter that I understood in a unique way. There are certain things family can “see” in each other, whether by genetics or upbringing, and I wanted to write about that.

  31. oh this letter had me all teared up. My Bug (little girl seven) has wrestled with the same problems. She is seven and doing much better. However I have to remind her regularly that it is ok to take a time out and watch sometimes if that is what she needs. To recharge etc… I am not an introvert by nature so I am not always quite sure when to push and when to step back. If only each child came with their own starter guide ;)

    • jisun says:

      Haha, the starter guide, I know! It is nice for me to hear about a child a little bit older doing better on this. I really struggle between enabling the behavior if it is detrimental (she’s miserable or being socially inappropriate) and giving her space and time to figure it all out. I also must say, from the mom of a five year old, seven seems sooo big! I know it is right around the corner though…

  32. allijandro says:

    You’re a wonderful mother! As a daughter.. I would give a lot for my mom to post something as sweet as this.

  33. gatito2 says:

    This was very beautiuful and your daughter will love the fact that she feels understood by you. Most introverts don’t feel understood at all in a world of extroverts. I spent the large majority of my time when I was small behind my mom’s legs if we had company. I continued to be shy all through school and even after. I made it through and have had to go through many social occaisions and went through nursing school, jobs and so forth. But I stll don’t like big parties and I’m not much of a small talk maker. My youngest daughter was an introvert too. Watch her carefully though because we don’t always know what goes on inside of our intorverted children though we are introverts ourselves.

  34. Jacki Maynard says:

    Beautiful. Just found on Freshly Pressed (congrats!) I see another commenter mentioned Quiet by Susan Cain. Worth reading for you and for your daughter. I felt like this as a child, like I was stuck in a baby’s body almost, that I was really much older, but didn’t know how to express myself, interact with my peers with ease. As I get older I value the introspection. I hope your daughter learns that while it can seem a weakness, it is also a phenomenal strength. Looking forward to more of your writing.

  35. elainecanham says:

    What a lovely letter. I remember as a small child behaving like your daughter, and then later, as mother, feeling like you, when my daughter wanted to hide inside herself. You write so beautifully, thanks for the read.

  36. Cres says:

    Oh this is such a lovely letter, my son is like this, sometimes he is all over the place and sometimes I just can’t get him to move from my lap. I worry a lot too because most of the time he just wants to stand far and observe. Lovely post

    • jisun says:

      Yup. The barnacle. We went to a wedding dinner tonight and she was tied to her daddy’s leg again. I take solace in the fact that when she does want to get out there, she does just fine. Who knows what is going on in their minds, really. They probably won’t know for even longer. ;)

  37. Made me understand why parents care for us so much…thanku for sharing this with us

  38. kate says:

    So beautifully written. Thanks for sharing :)

  39. Such a beautifully written letter, I wish my dad wrote to me. However, I’m glad I stumbled upon it. Your daughter will appreciate this wholeheartedly. It’s a true testimony of love from a parent.

  40. Rabbit says:

    When she is a mum herself, she will treasure this letter written with the tenderness of a loving heart.

  41. savannah99 says:

    Reading this reminded me of my now 5 yr old great grand son, he didn’t speak words until he was almost 4 yrs old he communicated in sign language by tapping his forehead or the side of his face in a very aggressive manner, then one day while i was outside gardening he sat down beside me and asked ” grandma what are you doing? he tells me that I am the best grandma in the world and he calls me his sweetheart!

    • jisun says:

      You know, that is funny, Mouse didn’t really speak for a long time either, and when she did, the full sentences cane spilling out. Our theory was that she was waiting until she could do it “just right”. She’s still like that–does things on her own time frame. Your great grand son sounds like a wonderful little boy!

  42. I LOVE IT!!!!!!! YOU ARE AMAZING!!!

  43. What I love about this post is that you understand exactly how your child feels. What have you learned in your life that you can teach her to help her deal with her feelings? I’m a tall skinny redhead who was also shy as a kid, and I just wanted to fit in! Eventually in my late teens I accepted I would always stand out, so I may as well own it and be strong. My boys will also be tall, so I want that to be my legacy to them – accept you will stand out, you will never blend into the crowd, but that’s okay – own that! Gotta love your kids – they teach you so much about yourself …

    • jisun says:

      Yep, couldn’t agree more about owning our differences! For me, it was just time. I had to grow into myself, and I think that is what she’s going to need as well.

      You know, as a shorter, dark haired girl, I would have killed to look like you when I was younger. I absolutely thought having red hair would be the best thing possible. The grass is always greener, I suppose. ;)

  44. isabelvida says:

    It’s so wonderful to read this perspective. I have struggled as an introvert all my life, but am capable of masking as an extrovert. It can be so painful to feel like you can either be true to yourself or be what others want and expect. Thank you for this.

    • jisun says:

      I feel like this too often, that I’m sort of pretending to be a social butterfly, when that is really not who I am. Thanks for your kind words. :)

  45. This is a beautiful letter. I am like your daughter, and I have a daughter like me. It’s a little crazy to see your genetics being handed down the line. My daughter is now 17 and I can promise you she never clings to my leg anymore! In fact, she has blossomed into an introvert who lets her guard down and really has fun with her friends. Yours will too.

    • jisun says:

      That is nice to hear, because sometimes I do imagine her always clinging to us! Probably wouldn’t look nearly as cute on a teenager. ;) Thank you!

  46. lovely! I can totally relate!

  47. michelhieu says:

    Reblogged this on Michelhieu's Blog.

  48. As someone who is a very Introverted individual. I was sadly not nurtured in a constructive way regarding it as a youth. So this warmed my heart to see, this was very beautiful. You dear madam has given me some hope about parenting. Thank you for doing it right. ***Lots and Lots of kudos***

    • jisun says:

      Thank you, truly. Your words mean a lot to me. I don’t really feel like I’m doing it right at all, but it feels good to think that someone else out there thinks I am. ;)

  49. Excellent piece and something that so many people struggle with! I often get “stage freight” when I go into a room and there are just strangers! Where do you start? What do you say?
    As a mom of young adults, all that I can say to you is to continue to support and love your child unconditionally! She may not become the ultimate social butterfly, but as long as she is her own person, that’s all right!

  50. menonshruti says:

    Its wonderful that a parent actually understands a problem like this and tries to address it! More often than not they turn a blind eye and assume its a ‘kid/teenage thing’ that will work itself out. I myself was a shy kid, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized that this was an issue about which something needed to be done. I think your daughter is lucky to have a mother like you who understands her emotions and what exactly she’s going through. I really hope that with your support, she’s able to overcome this. :)

  51. Angela says:

    I used to be like this as a child! I would cry every single day before nursery, and even when I finally managed to get over that at school I would still cry before birthday parties up until the age of about 7. Even now I still sometimes feel anxious before social events, even when I meeting up with very old friends.

  52. Wow. This is beautiful. So much love. As an introverted barnacle myself, I feel so uplifted reading this. Your daughter is adorable, too. Just wow.

  53. bobbywrites says:

    Everyone wants to assume for a child.

  54. Latha says:

    this is one of the most beautiful parenting stories I’ve ever read and made me think of “The Joy Luck Club”. I have a child (5.5) who is introverted like this, as I am. And a husband who has made the same reports as yours, who is rather extroverted. mostly I tell my husband that’s the way our son is and not to push him. sometimes I have jumped on the bandwagon and tried to push him or apologize for him not saying hello in the elevator, etc.. I’ve stopped doing that.

    there’s nothing wrong with my son. he is who he is. and as extroverts are celebrated, so too, I celebrate him – in all of who he is. the child who does not stop talking from the moment he wakes up, but is too shy to say hello to strangers and friends alike sometimes. the child who runs full speed ahead, breaking away from mommy’s hand, but also holds back and observes when there are a lot of people, until he’s decided how he wishes to engage. I could go on and on…

    I’ve been reading the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain and have found it to be helpful in strengthening my resolve to be who I am and live by my own storyline. And to teach my son that he is the author of his life, the inner one and the one he shows the world, and to own all of it..

    thanks for sharing this moment and seeing me and my son. I see you, too.

    • jisun says:

      Thank you for sharing that, he sounds so much like my daughter. I struggle as well, and have at times pushed, then regretted it. I draw the line when she does something unkind, but am now trying to do as you do, celebrate her, just as she is. It is really nice to know I’m not alone. :)

  55. presetuser says:

    Reblogged this on A Sheldonian Guide and commented:
    so true… our personalities ARE hard wired to our genes. we just can’t help it. though we might improve in time and experience.

    • presetuser says:

      and great article! :) thanks for sharing.

      also, I don’t think it will be the worst idea to push your child a little, to be more social every now and then. my parents took the ‘in my own pace’ approach and I think I would have made it further if they (considerately) encouraged me a little more to get over my shyness.

      wish you all the best. :)

  56. funkytilt says:

    This is beautiful. I do not have kids of my own, but I was the toddler/child who missed out on so much because I was hiding behind my mothers leg. To this day I still question my behavior. Even as a teen I found it hard to “step out” at times. Reading this, I must ask my mother if she had my similar characteristics growing up. I have never thought about that. I hope your daughter realizes how much she has to offer the world.

  57. sassygal092 says:

    I remember being the same king of shy girl your daughter is right now. In my case, it was primarily because I was afraid how I would sound and the fear of being labelled a fool because of an inappropriate comment. It disappeared with age though. Now that I’m in business school, once in a while I see the fears make a comeback. But what’s life without a challenge? As in a Korean sitcom that I can’t resist watching ( with english subtitles), ‘Fighting!’

    • jisun says:

      Ha! I love when people know that tidbit of Korean culture. I think you’re right on, that is definitely a part of it for me at least. When I was young I didn’t want to “screw up”, so I’d say nothing at all. Thank you for the comment. :)

  58. There are many positive traits to being an introvert and hopefully your daughter will understand and appreciate them as she matures. I too was very shy as a child and used to envy people who were socially adept…I had to work at fitting in to social situations, first by understanding who I was and then appreciating my strengths. Introverts internalize feelings and need to process them before they react or respond to people and situations…hence they come across as being shy or detached or aloof when we aren’t…we are the exact opposite…sensitive, feeling, intuitive, caring. Today, people are often surprised when I tell them I am an introvert…I have learned to open up more and can be quite a chatterbox at times…but I am and always will be an introvert…and proud of it!

    • jisun says:

      Me too, people are surprised when I characterize myself that way. Just like you though, I’ve come to appreciate what I am and what I’m not. Thank you for the comment. :)

  59. lisageurts says:

    Amazing words written for your daughter. She sounds like an amazing child that will grow up knowing and standing up for what she believes in. It’s okay that she gets shy, life will teach her to engage more when she’s ready for it.

  60. “I know that we are not one and the same. You are an amalgamation of me, your father, and maybe some pixie dust. You are growing up on your own terms, in your own time. I’ll try never to presume anything about your path in life.”

    What a lovely sentiment. I wish more parents could be like you.

  61. I was a bit shy as a kid too but just when teachers or other adults were around. Don’t worry about little mouse as long as it isn’t exagerated shyness. Time fixes.

  62. Do you still (knowing- or unknowingly) exhibit that behaviour? Perhaps she gets it from you without your even knowing. Maybe she’s born with it. Another interesting question of nature vs. nurture.

    • jisun says:

      It is hard to say whether I unknowingly do it (for obvious reasons), but no, I don’t do this anymore that I know of. I have to say, in this case, it does seem inherited. Perhaps the way I address it as a parent could make it more or less, but she always had this trait. I can see the difference in my other children; they have very obviously different personality profiles. Chipmunk has periods of shyness, but here are very different; on the whole, that one is assertive, extroverted, and cares much less about what people think of her. Which from a parental standpoint, is a different sort of blessing and a curse. ;)

  63. ValHollow's Only Newspaper says:

    Reblogged this on Writings From a Mad Girl.

  64. Great article, it was an unexpected read. I grew up in as an introvert with occasional bouts of extroversion; and though I don’t have kids, if/when I do I was always curious would how I would feel having a child with the same mannerisms. It’s wonderful that you’re giving her something to read later when her when she’s ready.

  65. I understand exactly how both of you feel. I am also prone to unexplainable fits of shyness. I guess it’s just the way I am. My sister does not understand it at all.

  66. hymank says:

    …beautiful. and she is lucky to have a kindred spirit for a mother. my mother is social, confident, and was always well-liked (a Leo). our birthdays are 6 days apart (i’m a virgo) and I have always been shy, awkward, and very in my head…your daughter will appreciate you

    • jisun says:

      Thank you! I do wonder how it’ll all play out with my younger daughter, who is the complete opposite. I imagine that she may turn out much as you describe your mom. I tell my husband that he is in charge of her, because those two are so alike. ;)

  67. This is quite lovely. I have a four year old son and an anxiety disorder; I haven’t been brave enough to do much blogging about it yet, but I’ve noticed the anxiety and sensitivity in him that I had as a child and that I still face today.

  68. retrostank says:

    a beautiful barnacle on her daddy’s arm. It is frustrating when that deer in headlights feeling freezes your mouth closed.

    • jisun says:

      It is frustrating. I try my best to understand it, but I do admit that we are both frustrated at times. She loves sticking to her father though, a complete daddy’s girl. :)

  69. hiezmalubual says:

    Reblogged this on have you thanked God today? and commented:
    I know my mother feels the same way. I wish and hope, people would understand how it is to be an introvert… I mean, that weird feeling of losing that courage to enjoy with people. I know that feeling, I myself have experienced that. I believe, all we need is respect and the sense of care… that whatever we may have become, there will always be people whom we could turn to…and in same way, we will be that person someone could turn to.

  70. Katie says:

    This is such a beautiful letter. I completely understand what you and your little Mouse are going through, because I was this way as a kid (and still feel this way at times, even at 21). My parents could never understand why I would beg them to let my friends come over and play, but then avoid them when they arrived. Or why sometimes I would get in trouble for talking back to the teacher, but refuse to greet my best friend if we ran into each other in public.

    It’s one of those inexplicable oddities that’s really tough for us to understand ourselves, so it’s a million times harder for other people to understand. Your daughter is so lucky to have someone who realizes what she’s going through, and I know you’ll be a fantastic support system as she grows up and faces new challenges and continues to grow.

    • jisun says:

      Wow, reading your description of your own childhood matches hers so well. Uncanny. Perhaps we are long lost relatives??? Thanks for the comment, it is nice to know there are so many out there who walk a similar path. <3

  71. JesstheLVT says:

    As an introvert and someone who struggled in social situations growing up and even now, I appreciated this. I’m sure your daughter will appreciate it too.

  72. collector says:

    Reblogged this on collectorofthought.

  73. If only you were my mother! This was exquisite. This is what introverts need, acceptance rather than being ignored or asked to change themselves. Gosh. Just love this. <3

    • jisun says:

      Thank you for that awesome comment. I spend so much time advocating for disability acceptance but the responses to this post have made me realize it is bigger than just disability. We need more acceptance all around, don’t we? xo

  74. Sensitive and lovely. Thanks for sharing your insightful thoughts.

  75. Reblogged this on Never stop learning and commented:
    I don’t want to lose track of this lovely essay that describes a parent’s understanding of her child’s feelings.

  76. v nicole says:

    “You are an amalgamation of me, your father, and maybe some pixie dust.” Beautiful line! (Amalgamate is one of my favorite words) :-)

  77. jzabelin says:

    We’re alike! You uttered the same feelings I’ve always had with my seven year old. I can so relate to that feeling of these unexplainable “waves of emotions”, and how I’ve grown out of them as an adult and hope that he will soon too one day knowing that it won’t be easy. When his teacher tells me that he’s having trouble making friends in school, I want to tell her that it’s because he’s just like his mother! Thank you for putting these complex emotions into such eloquent words. I really enjoyed reading it.

  78. ashleekarin says:

    I wonder which one of my parents passed that gene down to me. Probably my mother. Thanks for sharing!

  79. lopezns says:

    Reblogged this on Drink Champagne & Dance on Tables and commented:
    My introvert soul loved this so much and had to repost.

  80. kldawson says:

    I’m a weirdo. I think the world would be better off if more people kept their mouths shut and observed quietly.

  81. This is great. My son is 7 and he’s an introvert just like me. I didn’t understand myself until mid-30’s, and so can see what’s wired my little guy. The past two years he has grown so much, stepping out of his comfort levels- making friends at the park, chatting up a storm with a new friend. It’s very exciting to see. Yet, like today, in a crowded setting, he is right by me, and I understand why. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • jisun says:

      Crowded places, for sure, Mouse is the same way. I also find it really fun and rewarding to see her step out when she does. I heard someone describe it as the “rubber band phenomenon”. Stretch a little, then come right back. :)

  82. cerabellum says:

    This was a really lovely read. It seems your daughter will grow up to really think about people and not just go through the motions and expectations. This is what I was like and am like, she just needs to find herself.

  83. jaclynnholts says:

    Thank you for this. I am 25 years old and felt like you were writing this to me.

  84. Michelle says:

    I read your letter, and it touched my heart in a way that is hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced this. I have social anxiety. I have for years. For the longest time, I couldn’t even go into a store and go shopping by myself because I would have a panic attack and have to leave.
    Then I learned about Psychological Service Dogs. They are service dogs specifically trained to notice a change in your mood or behavior and help relax you or calm you down. As a service dog, they are welcome in any business, just as a medical alert dog or a seeing eye dog would be. I was prescribed one by my psychiatrist, and proceeded to get a small dog that I could take with me. She has worked wonders. I am now comfortable enough to go places by myself, as long as I have her with me. If it is something you might be willing to consider, I would definitely look into a Psychological Service Dog. :)

    • jisun says:

      Thank you! It makes me happy to hear that you found something that works for you, and I’m glad that you commented, so others can read about your experience. xo

  85. dhanya0999 says:

    “I know how it feels to get all tongue-tied when you have so much to say. When you do manage words, sometimes they’re not the right ones. I know what it is like to feel knotted up without understanding why. ” these words are related to my present state..though i have improved a lot from my past..when i stand up in class or wen i m in a different crowd i suffer this …donno wen i would get over really wish…i was never been able to enjoy any party..often wait to get over ma fear and then i feel a little better ,everything will be over…

    • jisun says:

      I don’t know how old you are, but I’m 32 and I haven’t really “gotten over it”. I mean, how can we get over the kind of people we are, you know? Having said that, I think in life we all do things we don’t always want to do. BUT, I think in life we also have to let go of some things and I’ve definitely done that. I just spend less time trying to for into someone else’s box, you know? Hugs! One thing I’ve realized is that there are a lot of people who feel like you!

  86. VNlilMAN says:

    did you just write a letter to me?

  87. I don’t have children, but I feel that I did the same thing as a child. And if my mother had done something like that for me, maybe I would have come out of my “shell” sooner (I also would probably have a better relationship with my mom). If you keep this perspective, im sure you and your daughter will have a great bond!

  88. renatembell says:

    Beautiful. Love to you both. You’re not alone in this! ;)

  89. Such an interesting blog which seems to be lifted from the pages of a book I am currently reading. It is called “Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain. If you haven’t read it yet I can highly recommend it. There is a lot about being an introvert that may indeed be genetic. I’m in my mid-60s but I can still recall, very well, my parents’ concerns about my “shyness”. Everything worked out well but if they had known then what Susan Cain talks about in this book I wonder if they might have done things differently.

    • jisun says:

      Yes, ever since I wrote this, I have gotten several recommendations for her book. My mom is very much the classic introvert, and now it makes much more sense. :)

  90. girlbwrittin says:

    You are a wonderfully supportive mother. Your daughter will see this one day and be reminded of the love you have for her. Well-written. Broke my heart a little.

  91. stephanievuley says:

    Reblogged this on Thriving Thirties.

  92. kaikeyc says:

    Reblogged this on kaikeyc and commented:
    Is this a letter to me?!
    I see this beautiful child growing into a strong intellectual woman, what a heart breaker she has adventures to come!

  93. shineemmfan says:

    Wow! Kinda sounds like me when I was a kid!

  94. shineemmfan says:

    Reblogged this on God Factor.

  95. Very sweet. Introversion can be a blessing and, not quite a curse, but certainly a challenge.

  96. angelinahue says:

    This is a loving and thoughtful post – thanks for sharing. I emphathise with these “random fits of shyness” and it’s striking how ex/introverted I can be in different circumstances!

  97. Beautifully written and how delightful that you have seen your own transformation. That will be a gift for her.

  98. alycemoon says:

    This is beautiful! As a fellow introvert, it made me cry :) She has the perfect momma for her nature.

  99. One Stoveon says:

    Such a beautiful letter to your daughter. I can feel that you love her so very much. She is so lucky to have you.

  100. Well please don’t mock me! But I was kind of that kid, who tended to spend time away from others. I would have my moments but the social scene was too overwhelming. As a child I felt like a token, not fit for any machine.

  101. lauraanncopeland says:

    Jisun, I adore the way in which you write. It’s a difficult task for most, but you grab my attention and keep it there. Please, keep writing!

    – Laura

    • jisun says:

      That is such a wonderful compliment, thank you! I will try to live up to your praise but no promises! I might devolve into meaningless rants and raves. ;)

  102. Riedstra says:

    hi, nice writing!!

  103. dramacentralblog says:

    I can totally relate to your post. I am the mother of an introvert myself, and a recovered “shy” kid. This was a sweet post. I enjoyed it!

  104. This article is so good, I like this blog, Thank you very much for sharing

  105. colonelklebb says:

    This is the most moving blog I’ve read here.

    As an introvert mother too, I feel your child is lucky indeed to have understanding and patience. Wonderful.

  106. Beautiful and graceful. topic and pic.. well done !!!

  107. diettra says:

    This is lovely. As an introvert, who also has an introverted mother, I found this touching. My mom’s approach when I was young was to force me to engage. If I were speaking too softly, she would snap at me to “speak up!” and I would wish I were invisible. I know now that she wanted me to have a voice and I’ve faired pretty well, but not without noticeable strain on our relationship or a feeling of not truly being understood by her. Cheers to you!

    • jisun says:

      Thank you! I have to admit that it is hard for me to just “let her be”. It must be a universal experience to want to make your children “overcome” their struggles, because I find myself in the same shoes that your mother was probably wearing. I’m more or less successful at letting her go at her own pace, depending on the day. It has been so helpful to hear from adults like you, however. It reminds me to bite my tongue and let her be! So thank you for that. :)

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