I’m very rarely bored. If anything, I’m too stimulated. So I purposely keep my schedule mellow and make sure there are many blank squares on the calendar. Blank days where my my only real duties are to keep the family fed, clothed, and tidy up a bit. Anything beyond that is extra credit. Many would be super bored and understimulated if they lived my life, I know this for a fact. But I am not. There is almost always something to captivate my attention: the birds outside, my kids playing, a cup of tea, even this blog. When there is not, I can easily zone out into space for much longer than is “normal”, thinking deeply or not thinking at all. Yes, zoning out is not even boring to me! Since HSPs notice more details in the environment, and then deeply process those details, we are perhaps more easily entertained than the average person.
I have dear friends who have confided that being home with the kids all the time is somewhat torturous. That they are bored to tears, and jealous of their husbands and friends who get to work. My friend told me that a stressful day at work is a vacation compared to being at home with the kids. I can sympathize with this, but I can’t fully understand it. I didn’t like working all that much, even in a job I was passionate about (see this post). I can’t say I really thrive out there in the career world, and have wanted to be a stay at home mom for a very long time. If I HAD to work, I would try to hustle and save like 75% of my income and then retire early so I can do exactly what I’m doing today, staying at home.
A coworker in college was shocked and somewhat horrified when I told him I aspired to be a stay at home mom. He kept saying, “I feel so sorry for you. Why are you even getting a college education?” First of all, how condescending, right? Berkeley, a place for open-mindedness and tolerance, and yet he so easily judged my dream, mostly because I wouldn’t be paid, and my efforts wouldn’t benefit the community and the world (I beg to differ, but whatevs.)
This conversation from 13 years ago came to mind as I underlined and starred this passage from The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron, PhD.
Twice as many HSPs as non-HSPs in my study called themselves homemaker, housewife, or full-time parent. (Not all were women.)… HSP ‘homemakers’ find a good niche for themselves, provided they can ignore the culture’s undervaluing of their work. Research on parenting, for example, continually finds the elusive quality of ‘sensitivity’ to be the key in raising children well.
Thank you Dr. Aron for the validation. I really needed to hear that. Being a stay at home parent may not be the best fit for everyone. Many wish they could get out of the predictable, sometimes mundane home, and out into the exciting wider world. But to an HSP, exciting might be a good book, new recipe, chopping apples, pulling weeds, chatting with a neighbor… and that’s ok!