12 April 2011

Mothering, Feelings, and Great Expectations

I remember taking the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator test during high school at our diocesan Christian Leadership Institute one summer. I think back then I figured myself out to an ENFJ, because all the people I most wanted to be like were ENFPs or ENFJs. I took the same test a year later as a member of the Maine Diocesan Council of Catholic Youth and came out as an INFJ, because both of my best friends at the time were INs. Is there a point to all this? Yes, yes there is. I'm simply trying to show how easily manipulated such a test can be. And how little stock I actually put into its results. Which is why I was surprised when this quiz, based on the Myers-Briggs Types, actually got it right.

The 'Know Thyself' Mother

Sensitive and family-focused, the INFJ mother looks for and encourages the unique potential of each child. Self-knowledge may be her byword. Her aim is to help each child develop a sense of identity and cultivate personal growth. In fact, she may value the mothering experience as a catalyst to her own personal growth and self-knowledge.

The INFJ mother spends time observing and understanding each child. She is drawn to intimate conversations and seeks a free exchange of feelings and thoughts.

Sympathetic and accommodating, the INFJ mother strives to meet the important yet sometimes conflicting needs of each family member in harmonious and creative ways.

She is conscientious and intense as well. Probably no one takes life and child-raising more seriously than the INFJ. She approaches mothering as a profession requiring her best self.

It gets really eerie when it starts discussing the particular struggles this personality type may have to contend with:

Details. The INFJ mother may gravitate toward the idea of getting the family and household organized and in order, only to exhaust herself with nitty-gritty follow through. Regular baths for small children, weekly laundry, daily meals, picking up clutter, and ongoing repairs can be overwhelming.

Real life vs. the ideal. Because she lives with an ideal in her mind, the INFJ mother often has unrealistic expectations of herself and others. She may feel inadequate and critical of herself when reality falls short of her ideal.

Yes and YES!

I am SO like this! I have this marvelous picture of a perfectly organized household that never seems to come to fruition for one reason of another. I'll be all gung-ho and rarin' to go about my FlyLady routine one day and just go crazy organizing, folding, putting away, washing, drying, etc, etc. Two or three days go by and my laundry baskets are all full of clean laundry I have yet to put away and the dirty clothes are just piling up on the floor around them, I can't see my counter top or the inside of my sink for all the dishes, and the mail is spilling over onto the floor. Meal planning? Maybe. If I get to it. Ugh!

It's that ideal, of the perfectly organized household, that ends up making me feel inadequate. As if not being June Cleaver makes me suck as a human being. Don't worry, the self-loathing doesn't last long. But it rears its ugly head on occasion, no denyin' that.

So what's a mom to do when faced with such difficulties?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

h/t to Just West of Crunchy.


  1. I hear ya, I fall of the FlyLady Wagon a lot. But shes so darn nice and says every time I do fall off, "Dont try to catch up, just jump in where we're at, okay?"

    There is much merit to the Pachyderm Theory btw.

  2. I just went and took the quiz and oddly enough I too got the results I normally do. INTJ. One point that hit me is this - The INTJ mother lives with high standards, encouraging self-motivation and improvement… from herself and others. Just last week I was teaching in my daughter's school and I told the kids I don't have favorites but I have standards and I expect certain behavior as well as performance. My standards are a problem for ISTP daughter whose room is consistently a MESS. lol.



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