The Curious Case of the Rational Mother

Years ago, I was chatting with another mom at a play group, who had daughters just a few months older than mine. She was talking about how much she adored her kids. Possibly, she loved them to the exclusion of everything else. She could not imagine how dull and pointless a person's life would be without them. 

When I heard that, I laughed. I thought that she was joking in that, "oh my goodness, aren't we mothers so dramatic and ridiculous" kind of way. But she wasn't joking. She was serious. She honestly thought that life - her own and those of others - could not be complete without children; that having kids made existence more meaningful and the parent a better person. This hit me like a punch in the gut. I had never felt that way, not before I had kids and certainly not afterwards. Was I a terrible mother? 

I was ambivalent about having children before I finally decided to give in to the biological clock and have one. The idea of having a baby had nothing to do with feeling "complete." I was already fulfilled by the life I had created, by the things I spent my time doing, by the career I'd forged, by the plans I had for the future, and by the people I loved. I wasn't looking for fulfillment. I just wanted to try parenting on for size. It seemed like it could be a fascinating adventure, like the time I ate guinea pig in Peru.

I gave birth to two daughters in two years, a fairly demanding age gap. I continued to work during this time, full-time at first, then reducing my hours to "just" 35 per week - the equivalent of half time for someone working in corporate law. At times, I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. Kids rob you of sleep, rob you of relaxation, and steal all your time for chores and personal development, no matter how well you organize things. Other times, I felt my heart swell. Who can resist the life-affirming tug of pride when their little one starts babbling phrases, or has her first joyous game of peekaboo?

Mostly, though, life trudged on. Parenting was OK, but I wasn't rampantly excited about the job. God knows I loved my little darlings, but sometimes I wished the day would speed up so I could get them into bed. I tried (and failed) to find something in common with the woman who thought that having babies was the most noble and fulfilling job that anyone could have. I tried (and failed) to connect with the mommy blogs that told warts-and-all truths about tantrums, tears and bodily fluids, all wrapped up an ethos of "parenting is oh-so amazing we created an entire blog just to celebrate it!" (Most parenting blogs are written by SF or NF types, who really do think this way). I could not figure out those parents who were sad when their child started school (I was elated). I felt underwhelmed and completely bored. I looked forward to work so I could have a decent conversation.

Don't get me wrong, I love my kids. In the world of celebrity moms, I'm Terminator's Sarah Connor, ready to wipe out the entire world to save my children. 

But parenting? Let's be honest, it's mostly a bum deal.

Why Rationals Struggle with Parenting

It may seem blindingly obvious, but when you prefer in-depth, intelligent conversations, kids aren't exactly ideal. They're emotional and unpredictable. They put sentiment over reason ("I want it now, mommy!") They don't see the big picture and they don't have much common sense. Even the most Intuitive kid learns through repetition and having step-by-step guidance through a task. For Rationals, parenting small children is the equivalent of Groundhog Day. It's utterly relentless and boring.

Rationals are thinkers. We're invigorated by a good argument. We need intellectual stimulation to keep us motivated, and can feel trapped by being stuck at home. The slow, slow pace of parenting doesn't work for us. I've been known to throw a shoe at the wall in frustration while waiting for a kid to put her socks on. We're built to explore new possibilities, not waste time on the laundry and washing the dishes.

Emotions are another struggle. Rationals often don't immediately grasp what others are feeling, even when the other person is having a massive meltdown on the supermarket floor. Some of us (ENTJ, INTJ) might jump in quickly to solve problems so we can get those tricky emotions out of the way. Others (ENTP, INTP) may feel utterly bewildered about what to do with a fussy, needy child because they place such a high value on independence. However we handle the situation, being around intense emotions all day can make us feel unsettled and anxious.

For Rational Introverts, these problems are escalated tenfold. The hubbub of family life can be overwhelming to an Introvert who is utterly drained by the noise, intrusion, chatter, messes, arguments and disorder of parenting. It's hard to manage several children at once when your preference is for one-on-one time with each child individually.

For me, the hardest part of parenting was finding the right balance. I had a half-hour commute home from work, and in this short time I was expected to flick the switch from accomplished-corporate-achiever me to soft-and-homely-mommy me. I never could manage it, with the result that neither "me" got my full attention and focus. 

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Rationals might feel disconnected from parenting, but we sure are good at it. That's my biased opinion, anyway. Here are some of the areas where I think we excel: 

  • We have a strong desire for our kids to be independent and self-sufficient, but we also set practical boundaries so that children feel safe and confident to explore their ambitions.
  • We are thoughtful and insightful, and will always make time to listen to our children's unique questions, thoughts, hopes, and ideas.
  • We love to help our kids expand their minds and work hard to create an environment of continuous learning. We get super-excited by the "why" questions and love helping our kids learn new things.
  • We don't typically fit into molds ourselves, so we don't push our children to do so. We open-mindedly accept our children for who they are and respect them as unique individuals. (I silently cheer every time I catch my children quietly working around the rules.) 
  • We see the big picture and are great at putting problems into perspective.
  • We're open and rational about our own mistakes. When we mess up, we reflect, we apologize, and we do things better next time. This is a great lesson to teach children, since it's pretty much how life works.

If I had to sum it up, I say that a Rational's greatest gift is her perspective. Our children are a huge part of our lives, but we understand where they fit into those lives. We would never burden them with being responsible for making us feel happy, or fulfilled, or accomplished, or complete. It's enough that they take responsibility for themselves. 

Jayne Thompson

Jayne is a freelance copywriter, business writing blogger and the blog editor here at Truity. One part word nerd, two parts skeptic, she helps writing-challenged clients discover the amazing power of words on a page. Jayne is an INTJ and lives in Yorkshire, UK with her ENTJ husband and two baffling children. Find Jayne at White Rose Copywriting.

Comments

Sylvia Ziemann (not verified) says...

Thank you for these wonderful insights. I am an entp married to an intp. My husband and I are both artists and have one girl aged 18  istj and one transgender intp age 21. We have parented in all the ways you have pointed out allowing our kids to grow and be themselves.

I was exhausted and still am sometimes with the complexities requiring me to set my needs aside to attend to them as a parent. But I do believe we have done a great job and not burdened them with our own issues. They have grown into fascinating beings. Now that they are moving into adulthood it's still challenging but much more interesting and more free time for us to be ourselves. 

Thanks again for the clarity.

 

Claire Edwards (not verified) says...

From my first encounter with a child--I was 4 yrs. old--I knew that I did not want one involved in my life. Someone came to visit my family and brought this alternately boring and obnoxious little blob with them. Stowed in MY nursey for the duration of the visit--oh, lucky me!--it was either asleep, boring;  or spitting up, yelling, and smelling; obnoxious. I suggested that it should first be "turned off" and then placed in the box in the back of the closet with my unwanted toys. When I was informed that a baby did not have an "off switch" nor could it be ignored when one did not wish to be bothered with it, any nascent primeval maternal instinct that I might have possessed evaported never to return.  I have always known what I wanted--and didn't want--for myself; INTJs are born that way.
 

TamaraLH (not verified) says...

I love this, "...alternately boring and obnoxious little blob..." That's exactly why I didn't make friends easily, I did not want to be friends with these things! No thanks, I'll go back to classifying my penny collection by year and mint locstion, making zoo cages for my plastic wildlife figurines, and looking for interesting fossils in the KY limestone.

Iza (not verified) says...

Wonderful comment. 

 

Cristina (not verified) says...

I feel like you took the words out of my head. Reading this brought me so much peace! I've struggled with the fact that I don't feel about parenthood the way all off my friends and family do. Thank you for showing me I'm not weird, and I'm not alone.

TamaraLH (not verified) says...

Great article Jayne! Perfectly said, perspective. I'm 37 and an INTP and have no intentions of having children, I told my hubby that if the occasion should arise that I *need* to rear a young one that we could adopt - and he would need to be the sole earner at least until grade school. I know that I cannot do the juggle you did with career and children. 

Jessica Justice (not verified) says...

I love that you get me! I'm INTP through & through!

I have 2 kids, 11 & 8, and this article is almost exactly what I go through being a mom! Every article you write is like you know my innermost thoughts! So cool! Thank you for making me feel normal! :p

-Jessica

Holly W (not verified) says...

I am a 30yo ENTP, and except for being in a different industry than you this could literally be about me - though I've never been able to put it into words like you did! Thank you!! My fiance and I don't have kids and do want them eventually, but I've often wondered it it makes me a bad person that I don't have the "call" that motherhood is my purpose in life. So glad you said what so many of us are thinking! 

Mathilda A Dock (not verified) says...

ENTP - always enjoyed my children, they are so much more interesting than most people and now that they are adults, they are my closest friends - my ex husband and I were unconventional in our parenting style mostly because of me - I'm typical ENTP, and recently my so actually thanked me for exposing him to comedy and other interesting experiences. Being an NT doesn't mean you can't be nurturing. My kids were hilarious.

ENTJ Mama (not verified) says...

Thanks for the article.  It really resonated with our family (me=ENTJ, husband= INTP).  We waited into our late thirties before trying to have a kid and now we have a 2 year old.  We knew we could have one kid or none and still be fullfilled and happy.  I also felt, like you wrote,  "I wasn't looking for fulfillment. I just wanted to try parenting on for size. It seemed like it could be a fascinating adventure, like the time I ate guinea pig in Peru." Sure, people told us that having kids would be the hardest and best thing you did.  I would disagree with that:  it's not the hardest, but it is indeed intense.  And the best thing?  Parenting has it sweet moments, and we certainly love our child in abundance, but being a parent is not exactly stimulating, or fulfilling all of the time.  You sure give up a lot of your free time, discretionary income, and energy, not to mention all the wiping of noses, bums and other constantly damp body parts of young children!

Thank goodness for childcare outside the home because I could not fathom the slow pace, constant low-grade stress, and unstimulating (intellectually) environment of staying at home full or part-time.  It's not in my personality make-up to be a stay at home a parent, although many of my mom friends seem to enjoy it and is the right choice for them.

And my poor INTP husband feels exactly like you described:  "For Rational Introverts, these problems are escalated tenfold. The hubbub of family life can be overwhelming to an Introvert who is utterly drained by the noise, intrusion, chatter, messes, arguments and disorder of parenting"

We know we are very sound parents, and we will undoubtedly raise a child who will feel respected and supported for who s/he is and hopefully will be independent, resilient and not a feeler . .. just kidding, we have a plan to deal with that too, haha!

Writeroby (not verified) says...

Thank you! I am a 31-year-old ENTP who has no children, however, your post moved me to tears! I told my father when I was 23 that I want children after 30. He thought that was unusual and against the societal norm. I see myself as a rational mother with views that challenge the standard 'my-children-are-my-life' paradigm. I saw myself in your shoes, Jayne, which quickly began to tug at my heart. So, cheers to My Future Self and thank you for sharing!

VenlaT (not verified) says...

Am I the only INTJ who loves children? I don't know why, as they are so bright and curious. I was baby-sitting a 6-year-old a few months ago and, after engaging her in the Socratic method and embarking on a research journey, we learned to distinguish between similar-looking animals and how to pick locks. Without her suggestion, I would never have learned those things. I also created boardgame to get her to do her math homework, which amazed her parents. As far as social interactions go, baby-sitting 2-3 children is much more enjoyable than most adult activities. As for care-heavy, sleep-depriving babies, they possess a truly magical ability to melt the ice my heart is imprisoned in. 

The main difference between my parenting style (though I do not have children yet) and other types is that I treat children as supervised adults. I think that many children misbehave because they are bored, relegated to appropriate "childlike" activities rather than given enough freedom. (Anecdotal evidence: Children rarely misbehave when I watch them, even if they are considered unruly by their parents.) Parents are a child's guide on their journey of self-exploration, ensuring they reach certain milestones and keeping them from danger, but letting them direct their own path. 

JM (not verified) says...

I am somewhere between you and the author. I have three kids and they are all very interesting to me. I enjoy watching them grow as people and I have much-enjoyed some of the previously mundane adventures in seeing life; discovery through their eyes. At the same time, dealing with the bodily fluids and the laundry was not so fun. However, I feel the good generally outweighs the negative. I can see now why I had so much trouble fitting in with the other moms. I was honest about parenting and I would probably be completely confusedand shocked speechless if a mom gushed about how fulfilled she was by motherhood. It's hard, and it sucks. And you crave alone time and peace and intellectual stimulation. There is nothing wrong with feeling that way, though. And I am glad this blog is saying it.

Rijke (not verified) says...

I enjoy children, too, although I have grown into this more and more with age.  I find their minds interesting and I like to treat them with respect that I think, as you described, makes them cooperate with me quite well.  My mother, who is an educator, said, "children like you because they can tell you respect them."  In my work as a clinician I must sometimes work with children and get them to cooperate for some tests.  I find that I can do this quite readily, using my analytical skills to fine-tune my approach and charm and entertain the child into doing exactly what is needed.  In the process of getting what I need so I can help them, I can also help them to feel good about themselves and their accomplishment of cooperating and doing whatever tasks are needed.  I find that being an analytical, rational person lets me do a good job with people of all stripes and types, many of whom would be upsetting or annoying to others.  I agree with what you said about freedom, but I think it's freedom to think, to be themselves, to be honest, to create, not blanket freedom.  I think without realizing it, you are conveying your values and your boundaries and the children are respecting your boundaries as you are respecting them.  They are not wanting to cross you or abuse you because the appreciate the intellectual freedom you offer/convey/model.  I think kids respond beautifully to boundaries where there is also freedom and that is what works for you and what works for me as we do so well with them.

kellyblack (not verified) says...

INTJ -  Thank you for making me feel less like an outlier.  I have two daughters who I love passionately, but I have to say their early childhool years did seem like the slow-moving groundhog day you describe.  Now they are teenagers and I greatly enjoy finding tools to help them become their best selves.  That's a great project for an INTJ.

Jenn, INTJ (not verified) says...

How can you not be thrilled with the ultimate complex problem solving experience of helping a new being learn how to be an adult?  What are they experiencing?  What are they seeing?  How are they interpreting this particular moment in time?  Pay attention, watch and learn with them.  Why do children have tantrums in the middle of the grocery store?  Observe, solve the problem, put your theory into action and do it differently.  If your child doesn't provide you with a lifetime of intellectual stimulation, you are not honoring your own gift.

April B (not verified) says...

Any idea what 'live and let live' means?

As shocking as you might find it, people find different things thrilling, stimulating and exciting. Yes, there are people that do not find helping others throught their life journey exiting. There are people on the other spectrum that actually want to enjoy and pamper themselves for the rest of their lives. There are people to whom all the tedious, not-so-fun parts of parenting spoil all the excitment. There are people to whom the stress and responsibility are way too much. There are people who have 0 interest in solving child - related problems.

All this motherhood thing is appealing only as long as you find it so. And for those who don't, it is really ok. They are not harming anyone. On the contrary, their self-reflecting, guts to say it as it is and stick to their nature is saving potential kids from growing up with resenting, conflicting, uncaring parents. 

The thing with gifts is that there are different types of gifts for everyone. It is really okay not to care about certain gifts, and gifts are not meant to be shoved down people's throats or taken half-heartidly and left in shelves. They are meant to be picked based on the person, honored and appreciated.

My mother treated us as the center of her universe. Even worst, she treated us as her whole universe. Without us, she barely exists as a person. I feel bad for her when I see that she gave her body, her youth, her joy, her health, her everything for us. She could have been a hell of a good mother even if she tried a little less for us and more of herself.

No, it's not some modern crap that I got from tv or peer pressure. I remember clearly thinking so even as a 4 year old kid (in a less elaborate way, of course). I saw how she would constantly neglect herself and waste away to tend to her 5 bundles of joy. I love all my siblings, but we were too much. And when she says she does not regret having all of us, I wanna scream. She quit her job after her second pregnancy and went into a spiral of total self-neglect after the third. She barely has any friends. She has no hobbies (even things that she used to like, she stopped doing). She has 0 self-respect. She has no strength left. My father has to remind her to put some lipstick on, we have to fight her to eat her meals instead of giving us everything that is delicious and keeping the scraps for herself. She loves aestethic and good food, so it's no like she does not care about such things. But neglecting her needs and wants has become second nature, she does it even when not necessary.

All her investment in us did noone any good. I grew up dreaming that one day I would become strong, wise, important, and when I did I would give my mother everything she wanted, and her youth back. Now I know I cannot give her youth back, and she herself admits with sadness that she doesn't want anything other than our happiness. Me and my siblings grew up feeling we owed something to her (though no one ever said or implied anything like that). My older sister and brother display the same type of martyrdom she has. Me and my younger brother always feel we need to compensate for something, and are way too free spirited because we fear ending up like her.

I am not saying that every devoted mother ends up like mine, but I think that children need less devotion and more leading by example. As long as the parent is not neglecting and tends to your needs, there are endless ways of raising a healthy, happy, balanced child. Too much of anything good (love, attention, devotion, care, control, freedom) is not neccessary and will only backfire in some way.

Michelle, INTJ (not verified) says...

Thank you for this article.  I agree wholeheartedly with this.  You put my thoughts into print.  I did view parenting as another adventure.  Boy, was I wrong. And boy do I want a new adventure.  I love my kids and happy that they have lives but I want to reclaim my own after 20 years of this. As an INTJ I  NEED time with myself to think and just be happy. 

Someone else (not verified) says...

My mum is intj and was never particularly affectionate or homemaker-ish, she has never acted as if we children where the center of her world. I feel I was lucky to have a mother like her growing up, she modelled for us what it was like to be an independant, free thinking, self respecting person.

Being a mother isn't about fulfilling a social role, it's an intimate relationship of love and responsibility between you and the people who are your kids, your children are going to love you and learn from you no matter how poorly you comform to social expectations :p

You guys just keep on being yourselves and there's no reason why you can't make wonderful mothers. I always secretly felt like my mum was so much better than everyone elses.

Clacla INTJ mom (not verified) says...

You sound like my two sons (ages 20 -intj- and 19 -entp-). Raising children should not involve fulfilling the expectations of outsiders, but strengthening the intimate relationship you forge with them. I don't know if it was my parenting style that shaped their NTness, or if they were born with such personality, but I am glad I was able to raise two autonomous, respectful and thoughtful people.

It warms my heart that you think so highly of your mom.

Rijke (not verified) says...

I relate to this.  I am an INTP mother of two.  I will confess I didn't want children.  I didn't dislike them but didn't think it was a good idea for me.  I became pregnant accidentally as high fertility runs in my family and birth control is not perfect in spite of what people want to believe.  This was an unexpected blessing!  I rose to the occasion each time in my rational, logical way and learned and grew and adapted myself one day at a time to be the best parent I could be.  Each of them had different needs as babies, toddlers, young children, as teens.  My kids are two entirely different people and I think it is a fascinating study in nature and nurture that as a parent you can watch up close and personal.  I am a scientist at heart and I love psychology, biology, human anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology and the art and science of medicine.  Being a parent gives such a unique lens to study these topics.  I am capable of love and empathy and I have tender emotions (just not that often or that strongly all the time) and I don't think being a rational, analytical, logical scientist-type precludes these things.  I have sometimes felt odd-woman-out when hearing others gush on about motherhood or babies and the like, as the author described.  I think the author nailed it when listing all the strengths that she brings to parenting.  Bravo!  I agree completely.  My kids are better off for my rational style of parenting.  I don't live through them and they don't have to meet my emotional needs; I accept them for the people they are; they can share anything with me as a result and they tell me they feel accepted and free to be themselves.  I can level with them and set boundaries and give them feedback but I don't have to douse them with my emotions every time I am unhappy with their choices or worried about them.  I have also been able to teach them to be circumspect and think about how they think (metacognition).  There are plenty of gifts a more rational type of parent can proffer and I don't want to apologize that I am not emotional and gushy.  My kids and husband know they have my heart and I am always rooting for them even if I don't show it exactly like 90% or more of the female population.  I think the article is incredibly normalizing and I'm glad for this perspective to be spelled out like this so we know we are not alone.  Thankfully I accepted myself the way I am a long time ago.  I learned the motto, "identify, don't compare" which refers to the idea of noticing what you may have in common with fellow human beings and not worrying about what separates us. I came to believe that it is fine to have my strengths instead of someone else's and be my best version of me rather than trying to fit into the more common paradigms of what womanhood and motherhood and personhood "usually" looks like.  I would like to know more people who are like us because I know very few and I do feel alone plenty of the time.  In my work I am surrounded by people who are not "NT" and maybe not even "N" or "T" at all.  This article was refreshing as it felt like I was hearing from my "sister" who is like me and we can understand each other's perspective.  Thanks for that!

Kaitlin (not verified) says...

ENTJ 20-something here and I have yet to have kids (thankfully) and I dont think I ever will want to. I've never had the same pull to have or be surrounded by small infants that other girls around me have had at all levels of my life. As a kid I was always the only female to remain sitting with the boys in grade school when teachers who were out on maternity leave would come back into class with their screaming bundles of "joy" and all the girls would crowd around and ooo and aw and ask to hold or touch the baby *eye roll*. I never felt the drive to play with or watch my younger cousins. I felt sheer terror when I was of age to babysit and was asked to watch younger family members who required my attention and care and similarly balked when asked by family friends if I would like a job babysitting their tiny humans. You couldnt pay me enough to deal with THAT. Everyone would laugh and say, "oh someday, you'll want them".

Several years later and I STILL have 0 clue what they are talking about (I am soon to be 26). I still dont care to hold the babies of co-workers who come back on their maternity leave to show off their new offspring (although I will smile and tell them they are cute as is the custom of being an adult faced with uncomfortable situations). My boyfriend wants kids someday and is an ESFJ and I sometimes feel like we will reach this place in my life where I give in and give him children to make him happy and start the next phase of his life. I often wonder how that will make my life after. This blog sounds EXACTLY like how my life would be after - and it helps show me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that I could be a good mother...and yet highlights some of the things I fear. I've felt that not having that "I can't wait to be a mommy" vibe would make me a terrible mother. I laugh at the idea that children can be someones whole life and cant help but feel sorry for women who put their children first for 18 years and then wonder why they are so lonely when their kids grow up or move off or why their marriages fell apart. Or I watch in dismay at helicopter parents who suck the individuality of their children and dont help them learn to be autonomous and take care of themselves (for you know, when they GROW UP and become an adult lol). Trust me - I dated one and he couldnt even put his own clothes away after they were washed because his MOTHER always did that for him *eye roll* and went home EVERY WEEKEND in college. 

SO - thank you for this post! It means a lot to me even though I do not have kids yet. 

Luna (not verified) says...

I was never interested in holding other people's babies either. Brand spanking arrivals or not. I personally never changed a diaper until age 35 (my own kid). At 40 my 2nd surprise addition softened me up slightly. Touch one hair on their heads and I will gladly go to jail though with zero regrets. 

Luna (not verified) says...

This resonated with me so much, you have no idea, especially with the inward cheering around the rule breaking (so long as they're not my rules). Nice to know I am not alone in so many respects. I am a madre of 2 boys under 8. My most fun and exciting times with them are our random "Adventure Days". They don't know what we're doing or where we're going until we get there. My oldest loves it.

That said, I am the laziest, most oppressed lunch and dinner maker there is. I don't do as many dishes anymore because I don't own any. Well, plates and real forks, knives, and spoons anyway. Unapologetically not kidding.

I do long for the day they break out of the noodle, parmesean cheese, pizza, no meat, mini muffin phase. How about some paella...in Spain...by the seaside people watching with the breeze flowing through our hair?

Getting itchy feet. As much as I love them to death, I am not sure how much of this regimented life I can take at this point. We will see.

Greta (not verified) says...

 I’m an INTP, & my husband’s an ISTJ. We have an ISTP son (21), ISFP daughter (13), & our little girl (2½) might also be an INTP. Hard to tell at this age of course, but she’s almost certainly I b/c she’s quiet around people she doesn’t know well, & gets tired being around a lot of people for a couple of hrs, but at home, she’s very busy talking & running around most of the day. Prob. P b/c she doesn’t like schedules. She might need her nap almost any time of day. 3 days ago, she decided she didn’t want to go to breakfast, & took a nap instead. But 2 days ago, she couldn’t fall asleep until about dinnertime. And sometimes she can’t take a nap at all. Her bedtime takes hours b/c she’s so wound up, so I just put calming lullaby cartoons in a corner of the laptop & have her hang out w/ me until she falls asleep. The 13-yr-old as a baby hung out w/ me while I read books until she fell asleep at about 10 PM, regardless of how early I put her in the bed. She could, & the other can, sleep only in the bed w/ me. But about the rest, apparently S/N & T/F, they’re prob. exactly opposites:

13-yr-old…

  • is calm, never had more than slight trouble w/ teething, never had a tantrum; e.g. outgrew naps at 12 mos. & never needed them anymore
  • could eat even steak by about 12 or 18 mos.; never picky; no food-allergies
  • was an easy-going baby: was potty-trained by 2 w/ practically no effort
  • has highly sensitive feelings, e.g. burst into tears when scolded for biting while nursing, & never did it again, & at 18 mos. burst into tears of sadness in sympathy for the stuffed animals here (it was really tough to not laugh at her cuteness & at the commercial but to calmly hold her & tell her the animals went to the dr. & got better 😆)
  • is irritated by absurd & philosophical humor
  • likes craft & cooking books
  • likes normal kids’ holidays: Christmas & Halloween
  • doesn’t have any unusual way of talking

2½-yr-old…

  • is high-strung, e.g. still needs rocking, even occas. in the middle of the night; has ≥ 1 tantrum/day; lots of agitation over teething, lots of doses of painkiller needed
  • seems confused by many food-textures: can’t yet chew olives or anything tougher, or any leaf; couldn’t chew anything until 20 mos. & then only b/c a certain new teether spurred it; kind of picky; FPIES allergy to oats, rye, & possibly something else
  • is strong-willed: potty-training is a battle—no, a siege, b/c it’s taking so long I don’t remember starting; she easily uses the potty if she has no pants on, just goes to it on her own, but put anything on her, cloth or disposable, & when I’m busy or relaxing & not paying attention, she’ll probably make a mess in it, not really caring. Have tried every method. Currently, stalemate.
  • doesn’t have sensitive feelings, e.g. thought biting while nursing was a fun game, for months 😓—but I broke her—I won at least that siege! 😅 (force-weaning her would be disastrous, & she needs milk for her health & IQ of course)
  • likes absurd humor, e.g. I have Hyperbole and a Half, which she wanted me to read to her, so I crossed out all the swear words & she likes it; in general laughs at the same things I do, calls them ‘funny & weird’
  • likes intellectual books her sister thought were boring; b/c we can’t have deep conversations yet, the humor & reading these books together make up for it pretty much (I guess I don’t have a need, for conversation, building up in me. Mainly I talk to people at church, about theology. And write in discussions on the internet like this. And talk to my husband of course. But any frequency of conversation is fine for me.)
  • maybe b/c 1 of those books is about it, favorite holiday is…Pentecost 🤔
  • asks questions w/ furrowed brow & tilted head, like, repeatedly, ‘Mama? Are we going to Pentecost?’ (meaning Pentecost service at church), in a quiet, serious, hopeful voice 😆😊

Some other observations…

  • It would be too hard to go work at a job & leave my baby w/ anyone. Nobody else could take care of the baby well enough. We’ve never even had a real babysitter, only their grandma if we had no other choice, & only when they’re at least 4. Time away from my baby—which would be loneliness—wouldn’t be a fair trade. I’ve never been successful at getting & keeping a job I was good at & didn’t get sick of fast. Once I was an apprentice machinist, but made too many mistakes. Once a graphic designer but got laid off after a few mos. Once a political canvasser but disagreed w/ the politics. Once a food runner at a busy live-performance restaurant at the theater, which was often fun (as you’d expect, didn’t do any performances!), but even w/ hardly having to talk to anyone, still just exhausting for an introvert. Every other job I’ve been able to land has been miserable: dishwasher, assembly line, janitor, dept store at Christmas, 3rd-shift at a gas station… My schooling didn’t prepare me for anything. Even though I went into kindergarten reading everything I could find, incl. & esp. my dad’s college dictionary, no acceleration was allowed, & by the time there was a gifted program, I guess I was a ‘problem’ kid (had been force-fed soap a lot, paddled some, & put in solitary some) b/c I wasn’t allowed in. Graphic design was the only thing I could (barely) get into that had a chance of not turning miserable, & I think I’m really terrible at interviews. But I have chronic mono now anyway, so none of that matters anymore. Don’t know if this is the most noble & fulfilling job I could possibly have, but it’s the only 1 that’s worked out well.
  • I hadn’t even considered getting married, but my husband proposed to me, I loved him, & I was already 29. So I realized I had better settle down, & did right away. We had our 1st baby very soon (the 1st girl—the boy’s a stepson technically). Didn’t try for another baby for several yrs, but I guess we should have. Took fertility for granted & then a dr. said we couldn’t have any more. I was shocked & kicking myself. Prayed for 5 yrs 😓 then finally another baby. 😍 But haven’t tried since b/c she’s a handful. Or 2 handfuls. Might run out of time b/f she isn’t. But 2 babies in 2 yrs? I would have been frantic.
  • I never wanted them to go off to school, esp. given what happened to me, the restriction & the corporal punishment for being too eager to learn—well, corporal punishment at all. Also our son was put in a gifted program at 1 school, then after having to transfer, there wasn’t 1, & his teacher made him a supply boy & teacher’s aide for illiterate fellow 3rd-graders. In 4th-gr., he tested off the chart in reading (‘above 11th grade’), but the school (public, & supposedly accountable) wouldn’t give him a properly normed test. I asked repeatedly & then realized I was being given the run-around. So we started home-schooling him. But it was hard to find a suitable program. My husband eventually decided he liked 1 & took over that duty, while I chose what to do w/ our daughter. I taught her from classical books I found interesting, not 1 program. It went well b/c when we had the baby, we did have to put the older 1 in a set-up 6th-gr. program to save time, & she tested at or a little above gr.-lvl in everything, even though we had studied formally only math, Latin, & composition (also we had discussed a catechism, I had read her lives of saints, she had tested out of spelling & reading, & she has a lot of books about science & some about history).
  • That’s totally right about the tedium. Diapers, potty-training, tantrums, & putting away laundry. Well, I never fold anything, & lately haven’t gotten much put away. Also cleaning, but if I listen to music it’s not so bad. (Getting a free moment to clean, when I’m not feeling so sick, is the hard part.) Also dealing with a fussy toddler who can’t eat a lot of things. If she’s not cooperative, like putting on socks as in the article, then if it’s not important, like we don’t have to be anywhere, I’m pretty much hands-off. I keep her contained, in her stroller or high-chair if I have to cook or something, but usu. have her in our bdrm w/ the door shut, & hang out w/ her just making sure she doesn’t hurt herself, ruin stuff, or make a huge mess of the rm. She plays & gets a bit calmer. But if she won’t cooperate & we are about to go someplace, I hold her & wrestle the socks & shoes right on her. An uncooperative toddler making everyone late (so we’d miss a dr.’s appt or walk into church late) would be intolerably stressful. So I guess I try to do the least I can get by w/, & do it fast.
  • …also about the chaos. This 2nd baby can be overwhelming. 1st daughter doesn’t get much attention from me lately. Fortunately though they’re crazy about each other. (Son doesn’t really care about attention. 😄 Has a girlfriend, & is practically always at work (as a meatcutter), playing video games, or sleeping. Usu. when I see him, I’m cooking & thus try to get him to eat something substantial. Seems to subsist mainly on ramen, sriracha, chips/crisps…)
  • About other people’s babies, no, never want to hold them. Well, nobody asks anyway. It’s kind of like other people’s pets. Sure they’re cute & nice & whatever, but I don’t have any connection to them. Our pets—ESTJ Rottweiler & I?F? English Bulldog (ISFJ actually, I think now, b/c of Fe), by the way—are the best pets to me, b/c they’re ours, we care about them most, they’re loyal to us, etc. Our kids are the most beautiful & wonderful to me, b/c I believe God entrusted them to us. It would be super-awkward to me to try to close the distance to other people’s kids. I’d feel I was infringing on the parents’ domain, & might make the kids uncomfortable.
  • I guess I may be like Mathilda: unconventional, & so things are working out in the same way for us so far. I want us all to be best friends, wouldn’t want any kids to move far away, or even out of town, & want 1 to get married & that 1 & the spouse live w/ us. We live w/ my mother-in-law (ISFJ), b/c my father-in-law (IST?) died, we were moving away from my husband’s hometown, the steel-mill town was devastated by NAFTA, it was getting dangerous w/ feral pitbulls & gangs & murder & torture over drug debt & armed robbery, she was elderly & had cancer, & there wasn’t anyone there to take care of her. So of course we couldn’t leave her there. So we all moved away to live together in a peaceful town in Amish country. She likes being able to see her grandchildren all the time, we can help her w/ her health, she has privacy & quiet in her rm whenever she wants, she doesn’t have to try to maintain a house by herself or by having people come over, & she won’t end up in a nursing home. If she ever needs a nurse, we’ll have one come, like my husband got a hospice nurse for his father. That’s all what I want for myself when I’m old. If all the kids moved away, I’d be lonely. It would be too quiet. So I want to have people around, but quiet when I need it. And I wouldn’t want them to have to do their own chores living at a different house, then have to spend their free time coming to my house to help me w/ chores, like some people do for their parents. Sounds inefficient & stressful. A nursing home sounds like hell on earth, esp. for an INTP. (My husband used to be a nurse & worked at one b/f we met so I’ve heard a bit about what happens.) No privacy—you have to have a ROOMMATE, a stranger, who could be a chattering extravert, a rude person, a person who watches annoying TV shows all day, a person who has visitors, a person who has to use a bedpan in the same rm… It smells bad there (well, possibly not to every INTP, but I’m super-sensitive to smells). You can’t have total darkness & quiet at night & that’s the only way I can sleep. Even going to a ‘retirement community’ means you have to leave your comfortable home you are used to, live in 1 that’s prob. not nearly as good, & have strangers around unnecessarily. Either way you’re vulnerable to abuse from uncaring people. (Yes, a family member could do that too, but it’s not so likely as from strangers, esp. if you bring your kids up right, & it’s extremely unlikely if there are several people in the family, so abuse would be too hard to hide.) So the nuclear family is totally overrated. Extended family is best I think, esp. for introverts. This is a big part of my purpose in life, making a family of people who all take care of each other & are friends together.
  • Something funny I noticed: I read instructions to new parents about colicky babies, that you may need to put the baby down in the crib & take a break. Both babies had colic. The 1st cried really hard for 4 hrs every day from 4 to 8 PM for several months. Nothing helped her. The 2nd didn’t have it as long, & didn’t always cry so hard, but still did some screaming & was highly agitated. Giving her a bottle (which normally she never liked) helped her some, but nothing helped all the way. 1 dr. told me about the 1st baby that I should lay her in her crib b/c I ‘couldn’t do anything else for her if she had colic’. So I laid her down & walked away, but thought, ‘This is crazy. She’s crying b/c she’s suffering. So I need to at least hold her. At least she won’t feel abandoned.’ So I went back & got her, & never did it again. I never had to take a break b/c I never got stressed over it, poss. b/c of my personality type. (Also b/c I wasn’t sick back then so I had tons of energy!) If my baby had any problem like colic, I knew the baby couldn’t help it, & I couldn’t help it (except for those bottles), so it would have been nonsensical to get upset myself. It was just a storm to weather. Not at all stressful to me, beyond noise, but adrenaline got me past the noise fine. When the baby gets older & figures out how to be defiant, that does get a little stressful. Then when this kid figures out how to argue, that’s when the major stress starts! 😅 …b/c the arguments are illogical & extra-emotional at that time! That’s when I have to say, ‘Go to your rm & come out when you’re ready to cooperate.’ Maybe nothing worse for an INTP than passionate illogic.

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