A Balance of MBTI opposites in motherhood

Finding balance when everything changes

Being a mother changes everything. You have heard that a million times and if you already joined the club you probably feel it as well, in every fibre of your body, mind and soul.

Becoming a mother was the best thing that could have happened to me, and have made me incredibly happy. More than just being a mother but creating and nurturing a family. It’s about being a mom, a wife, a homemaker. It’s a whole new life, and I love it.

One of the many reasons I like it is that it connects with my values and things I care about. That gives me all the strength I need to the challenges that invariably happen. The day to day, my lifestyle, how and who I spend time with has no resemblance to how it used to be. I am, however, the same person. How, then, can I keep my balance?

Funny enough, it was by seeking my MBTI opposites. I’m an INFP, and I had to make a considerable effort to behave more in line with Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking and Judging to find my balance. Here’s how.

husband, jellyfish
The day to day, my lifestyle, how and who I spend time with has no resemblance to how it used to be. I am, however, the same person. How, then, can I keep my balance?

MBTI Opposites: From Introversion to Extraversion

I love spending time alone. It is how I process things, recharge my batteries and let random thoughts turn into ideas. Being with others is enjoyable, and I have a slim number of close relationships that I want to preserve and nurture. However, that takes a lot from me. As much as it is wonderful to spend time with special people, it takes a lot of my energy. Afterwards, I need to make up for it with quiet time.

Now that is not a good fit for being with two kids under two-years-old. The only time I am alone is when I sneak out of the room in the middle of the night. That is at the expense of sleeping, an activity that is very limited and valued these days. Hence, I crave for more alone time, for waking up without having to rush to someone else. For being with myself, and really rest.

Still. Attending to the needs and wants of children can be lonely sometimes. More than that, my whole life changed, and there’s a new side of me that is now seasoning everything: I am a mom. This is a strange reality that keeps changing, and I am every adapting to it. And what helps? Being with others. My husband who makes me and my life better in all possible ways.

But also being with other mums. It has become clear that when I meet other mothers, and we bring our kids, the day goes better. It is good for the kids, but it is also excellent for us, the parents. We connect. We assert this new facet of our personalities and identities.

Being part of a community suddenly became important, a sandbox to experiment my role as a wife and as a mother, to debate ideas, to share doubts and perspectives. I get a better sense of this new self of mine when confronted with others like me. When realising that I am just like them, they are just like me, and we are all going through parenthood together, taking care of our loved ones the best we can, I know we are part of something bigger and stronger that gives me energy and strength. There is a sense of compassion that people sometimes only get through a thorough and repeated practice of meditation (shared loneliness link). I’ve developed a new sense of compassion for others and for myself.

For that, I am incredibly grateful. Being with others and being a part of this community of mothers and parents and wives fills my tank of hope and energy. That is unprecedented. Moreover, it would have been unimaginable to feel this way before, unless I was by myself.


MBTI Opposites: From Intuition to Sensing

This part has changed so much. I have always been about the big picture, getting a high level feel for everything and not bother too much with the details. Forget about instructions – who needs those, anyway? – And focus on the main message. Ah, I would get annoyed with lengthy descriptions and often skip sentences and paragraphs when reading books because they were only trying to add detailed information to an image that I had already conceptualised in my mind.

Now I am taking much pleasure in cooking and creating my own recipes, trying out different flavours, textures and smells for my family meals. I am continually screening for my kids’ temperature, the feel of their voice. Sniffing them to see if it’s time for a diaper change, listening to their breathing to know if they are sleeping well. At any given moment, I am in tune with all my senses, to detect any need for specific actions and reactions.

It gives me an immense joy to take in the world like this. It feels like I am discovering my surroundings all over again. The taste of an apple, the smell of rain, the feel of the sheets, the sound of silence, the look of a happy baby.

At the end of the day, nurturing children takes a lot of details, a lot of sense-oriented activities. What is more, this information guides what to do, how to connect with the kids. Therefore, it became a vital part of being a mom. Coming in with the high-level speech to a toddler who doesn’t feel like eating is not going to work. Making food fun of eating might.

Each moment is now lived with more awareness. Even when sitting in the dark, waiting motionless so my baby can fall and stay asleep, I can enjoy it. These are opportunities to meditate, to visualise my family happy and healthy. Or, just as well, I can be thinking about an article to write. Either way, the reality is that now the now counts. The now is essential, more than it ever was.

MBTI Opposites: From Feeling to Thinking

Most of the decisions I ever made were based on the people involved and personal concerns. My heart leads my life and my mind. The experience I want to live is based on wanting to make others happy, on improving their lives and moments, as a mom, as a wife, as a coach or as a friend. It is my passion. It is a compass.

Being a mom gives me an incredible outlet to express my Feeling preference. Having had a second baby has allowed me to be more in touch with the Thinking side of things. While the ultimate goal is still the same: making a happy home for a happy family, now the needs of two need to be taken into account.

I want to be fair and apply principles that guide the decisions on an ongoing basis. It is increasingly important to be fair, to evaluate the pros and cons when there are so many people at stake: is it really okay to neglect my wellbeing so I can, over and over again, make sure both kids are always super comfortable? And what about my husband?

Is prioritising harmony or are there other solutions that are more efficient and consistent to our values?

It is hard and extremely involved to navigate this updated way of making decisions. A learning process that although is showing some benefits is very uncomfortable. But so we learn and grow.

MBTI Opposites: From Perceiving to Judging

The most significant change has been on my lifestyle. I love chaos. There’s something incredibly appealing about the apparent lack of order and structure. It was one of the things that made me pick my last role before leaving the corporate world: program management. I would rejoice in chaos and try to provide some framework and organisation for others.
Oh, and how fun is a day when you don’t have anything plan, no need to get out of bed until you feel like it when you just take things as they came. No pressure, no rush. It has been a while.

It is still precious and useful to not feel attached to any plan or idea. Indeed, rare is the day that goes as expected. However, kids, at least mine, thrive on a schedule, on routines and rituals. They get to know and anticipate what is going to happen next, they more easily engage in doing activities.

It is much easier to help you make tea when you always make tea in the morning, following the same process with the supplies in the same place. It is also easier to get out of the house, if you always leave after breakfast, even if it is to different areas, or in different weather conditions. This had helped anything from good eating habits to sleeping, to save energy when I was exhausted – I, too, get to know what is happening next and save time and energy trying to come up with something that works for everyone.

Balancing it all out with MBTI Opposites

So, am I still the same person? For sure. And I still have the same preferences. But my life is now very different, and therefore I need new tools. It’s all about increasing the portfolio of options at my disposal, particularly when it comes to my family.

Nothing matters more than family to me and being able to move smoothly use the different pairs has been priceless. I can sure, without a doubt, that it has made me a better mum than I would have been otherwise. And, most likely, more fulfilled as I travel the full spectrum of MBTI.