I’m on this Myers-Brigg tip lately. And yesterday was Mother’s Day (whoops, better call ya mama) so I got to thinking.
I stumbled across this international study of INTP women once that shows we have the highest dissatisfaction rates with traditional gender roles (including mothering etc.) because for an INTP freedom, the ability to work alone, quality independent time, and intellectual engagement are cornerstones of our happiness.
Just what a day in the life with babies and young kids is all about amiright?
INTPs are already a rare personality type (maybe 2% of the population in comparison to types like ESFJ that are 12%) and female INTPs are supposedly even more rare.
I’m a special special unicorn snowflake.
I had a lovely Mother’ Day. I felt grateful for my children, my husband, their adorable presents and card they made together, our nice brunch (even if we had to trade off walking Henry outside and unceremoniously shoveled the delicious food down our gullets). I snuck out to try out a fitness class for an article. My husband is the best and is always, always happy to let me get out on weekends.
But yet I feel lingering sadness, because as great as he is. Sometimes I feel like I need more. Tonight for instance is my writing group. And I just can’t go. I love going to this monthly meeting. I workshop things I’m writing, I try out new, more experimental and creative types of writing. I think, I read, I talk, I get connection with other writers. I really live to go to this and since my husband is away until late tonight, I have to miss a month.
It’s not really a huge deal in the scheme of my life, but it makes me wish there was an easier way, a better way. If only I had tons of family who could and would watch my kids whenever I needed (nothing extravagant, maybe once a week when I have something professional to do) or if only my husband didn’t have to work an hour train ride away and travel.
Who said my husband was allowed to leave and travel for work and like, support our entire life financially, right? I don’t want to be a spoiled brat, it’s just that…
I’m an INTP.
I need mental freedom. Mental freedom and the daily work of raising very young children don’t mix well. My baby screams if I leave the room for thirty seconds. He sleeps with me all night. I can’t write. I have no time alone. It was cute when he said MAMA and now it’s not so cute because.
MAMAMAMAMMAMAMAMAMA HYSTERICS VOMIT MAMA
At brunch yesterday, two kind older ladies were watching us do the impatient baby dance/eat/trade-off/juggle/make a mess in a nice place routine and one wished me a happy Mother’s Day.
“You’re really in the thick of it now,” she said. “That’s when you’re really doing it.”
And I know that. I know it’s not forever. But why do I kind of internally rage against the all-consuming nature of it? It’s not the WORK of it all. I don’t mind that. It’s something about the trappedness, the narrowing of my scope down. I have ideas. And things. To do and be and say and write. But I just don’t have the time.
And I think that’s what that INTP women survey was saying. That fundamentally parts of our personality are incompatible with the roles of mother, or at least the way they are prescribed in our culture. You should be endlessly satisfied with taking care of small children all day because they are miraculous adorable creatures (they are, and I am. But.)
Were any of us meant to do this alone, in suburban isolation, as a full-time intensive job of one, 24 hours a day 7 days a week with no help? I don’t think that’s sustainable for anyone, let alone a tamed free spirit like me, but here I am. That’s my life and I am mostly happy with it. At least when I can do a couple other things here and there, too.
I wonder if Mother’s Day is a kind of collective poking a hole in mothers’ lives to let some steam out so it doesn’t all explode out the top. Like, a bone thrown to say, yeah, we know it can kind of suck for you the other 364 days of the year, and while we spout platitudes about how you do the most important job of the year we don’t ACTUALLY want to support you or even truly respect you and what we do.
Even as we know it’s hard. And respectable. But here’s your Mother’s Day. Don’t be mad.
In graduate school, I dabbled in medieval studies. We talked about festivals that allowed servants a day of acting like their master, the social order upended for a day of zany craziness. It was like a release of a pressure valve. It was a nice way to keep the serfs in line. Here’s your brunch, peasant! Here’s a coupon for a free foot rub.
Or maybe I just need a babysitter.