I have some wonderful friends who are also “twins plus one” mommies. These women are wise, supportive, and just get it. Plus, our sons all share some of the same challenging traits. One of these women sent me a link recently to an article by Shannon Rosenberg that I just needed that day-and every day.
I needed it because as soon as I read it, I understood that both of my sons, and I have many of the characteristics of a Highly Sensitive person. Reading it was like having someone inside my own head, both as a parent and as an individual.
In the article, called 16 Graphs that Will Help you understand your Highly Sensitive Friends, Rosenberg describes what it really means to be a Highly Sensitive person. I hadn’t heard this term before I read the article, but after doing some research (and talking to another psychology-trained friend), I learned that it has been around for a while. Psychologist Elaine N. Aron, PhD has widely researched and written books on this personality trait (which she notes is present in about 15% of the population). You can even take a self-test on her website to see if you or your child might have exhibit some of these traits. Some of the recognized characteristics of HS people which apply to my boys and I are:
- being more emotionally reactive
- feel more deeply (things that don’t bug others bug you)
- take longer than others to make decisions
- get upset when you have a lot to do in a short time
- being more upset if you make a “bad” decision
- very sensitive to annoying sounds/strong smells/bright lights/itchy fabrics
- not all HS people are introverts (Me, yes. Logan, no.)
I can tell you that being a highly sensitive person is exhausting because you are experiencing emotional highs and lows every second of every day. Being the parent of highly sensitive children is harder. As an adult, I can verbalize and hopefully avoid things that upset me (like violent moves, timed tests, and tight jeans). I can arrange to spend 20 minutes meditating in my bedroom so that I reset. For the kids, it’s harder. They (especially Logan) don’t know how to recharge themselves. The Listening Teepee I wrote about in an earlier post helps. For Logan, reading aloud and singing helps. For Jackson looking at maps and dribbling his soccer ball alone while talking to himself helps. But rarely do they come to me and say, “Hey Mom, I need some down time.” (GRAPHICS are from Rosenberg, 2015).
The best part about All the Feels is that Rosenberg points out the good parts about highly sensitive people too (woohoo!) We are caring, loyal, and empathetic people. We are observant, loving, and thoughtful. I’d like to think we make good friends (Rosenberg says so, too).
There are days when I question if I can really parent my own kids when I’m still figuring out so much about myself. When my friend sent me this article, I think she was thinking of my boys, but she helped to shed light on my own inner workings. And that is priceless.
**Check out the Rosenberg article. You’ll be glad you did 🙂