Nesting, and the Lack Thereof

I need to address something. I’m going to sound horrible. I’m fairly certain that this post is going to be flagged by CPS and that everyone in the world is going to think that I’m a cold, frigid, ice queen of a woman. They will fear for the fetuses still protected from my indifference by the thick walls of my uterus. Were we in sixteenth century Germany, I would certainly be chased through the town with pitchforks and burned at one stake or another. Heaven knows those people wouldn’t be caught dead without a stake at the ready.

That being said: Nesting. It’s supposed to be an instinct. I may be a cynic, but I’m not a believer in the premise that humans actually have instincts. Not the way that animals have instincts. Not anymore. It basically comes down to an argument between nature and nurture and, while I understand that babies exhibit reflexive behaviors, I think that we begin to exhibit responses based on learning and experience from the early days of infancy.

So why does everyone still believe that humans have “instincts?” Why does everyone insist that I have a “mothering instinct?”

Oh, don’t worry, they’ll say.  You may not think you’ll know what to do, but your mothering instincts will kick in the moment you’re holding your little baby in your arms.  Now, I realize that I’m going to lose some support here in the next few sentences, but…um…bullshit.  That’s right.  I’m calling bullshit on the blind faith in the fact that some previously dormant neuron in my brain will activate immediately upon the expulsion of my children from my body.  Argument for human instinct has the same strength of premise as argument for the existence of “God.”

Uh oh.  Bye bye, believers.  I tend to chase them off fairly quickly.  But please understand that it’s not that I dislike people who believe in things like instinct and “God” and reiki and bigfoot and UOs.  Hell, I love thinking about all of those things.  And I get why people believe in them.  Trust me, skepticism is not for the weak-at-heart.  Accepting that uncertainty is the only certainty is like jumping in the ocean for a float wearing a chum suit and no life vest while your boat drifts away into the sunset.  It would make anyone a bit mad.  Shit, I’m sure it’s made me a bit mad.  But in the end, for me, it’s the saner option because at least I know that I don’t believe in anything falsely.

Okay.  Too philosophical.  Whether or not you believe in instinct is really the question here and, if you do, then you’re going to find this entire post flawed based on my initial premise that humans do not possess instincts.  So if you’re not on board at this point then there’s really no point to keep reading.  If you’re still hanging in there, then come with me one step farther down the rabbit hole.

So.  Yesterday, I posted a status update on Facebook that I had finally gotten off my ass and done some laundry, dishes, and started dinner.  The first response was from someone suggesting that I was “nesting.”  Ugh.  Gag.  I fucking hate that term to begin with.  I used to smoke Camel cigarettes and stay up all night watching slasher movies.  Okay?  I used to snort painkillers and hang out with felons.  Seriously.  I’m not bragging.  I’m saying that my lifestyle was not one that included washing and rewashing baby clothes because of some hardwired desire for my child to be born into perfection.  It was a bad lifestyle.  I’m glad I no longer live that way.  But the idea of me “nesting” is still one that I find abhorrent, no matter how reformed I’ve become.  It makes me feel icky.  I don’t want people thinking I’m that girl.

That girl.  Let me tell you about that girl.  That girl puts diapers on a stuffed monkey, dresses said primate in her unborn child’s infant clothing, then poses the poor creature in the crib and stroller and changing table, takes pictures, and posts them on Facebook.  Okay.  Now I love that girl.  That girl is a real girl who is on my friends list, and she’s a darling, sweet, kindhearted girl who has since had her child and no longer plays dress up with stuffed animals.  But that, folks, is nesting.  It’s absolute crazy sauce.  My day of tackling the laundry pile that prevents me from accessing my downstairs bathroom, my washing of Mount Dirty Dishes on the plains of Kitchen Counter, that is not nesting.

And I explained this to the person who suggested that it was.  No, I said, I was not nesting I was just trying to make up for the laziness that had preceded my actions.  I’d been up since six in the morning and had done fuck nothing since that time.  I had lounged on the sofa and watched Netflix and drunk of Seven Up and basically jerked my entire day right off.  Guilt was setting in.  My husband had been working eight hours and he still had two more to go and here I sat, in the only nest I knew anything about – a nest of pillows arranged strategically against one arm of my sofa.  Not cool.

But my protest fell like a piece of dandruff on a city street – unheard and unacknowledged.  More comments came in.  One from my best friend in the whole world, who just had her son about a month ago.  Another from the mother of the girl I said dressed a stuffed monkey and posed it like a newborn for Facebook pictures.  They insisted that I was nesting.  What’s more, they were completely ignoring the fact that I was telling them…I was telling them…DIRECTLY…that I was not nesting.  I was the subject of the conversation, and I was being completely ignored!

Do you know how frustrating it is to have someone tell you what’s going on in your own body and/or mind, while you’re standing right there, and just blatantly ignore what you’re telling them?  If a biologist wanted to study a particular fish…and that fish were capable of directly answering questions about its own biology and motivations…would the biologist simply say, “shut the fuck up, fish, I know you better than you know yourself?”  Perhaps.  Humans are haughty, and scientists can be some of the worst.  But what is it about having been pregnant that makes one an expert on everyone else’s pregnancy?  Just curious.  Because I’m really looking forward to becoming a more reliable resource on the next pregnant woman than the pregnant woman herself.  That’s going to be good times.  Telling her what she’s feeling and what she’s doing and why.  Yeah!  Knowing more about her than she knows about herself and completely dismissing her own feelings and beliefs on the situation.  I’m so, so on board for that, definitely.

Am I legitimately irritated or just being hormonal?  Please, tell me.  I know you know the answer better than me anyway. 😉

Update: Also, this.

3 thoughts on “Nesting, and the Lack Thereof

  1. Our group of friends rode motorbikes and drank all night, their kids were mostly the result of their irresponsible teenage years and were all grown up themselves, we realized that if we waited until we felt grown up before we had kids it would never happen. Being a happy at home mum was seemingly not in my DNA. Not only that, I always hated being told I was getting ‘clucky’. Just because I am holding someones new baby doesn’t mean I want to race out and procreate! It just means I am obeying the social norms and wanting to make someone I know feel happy by accepting their offspring….

    I have NEVER been clucky a moment in my life. Even when I was pregnant with my own two children I couldn’t have been less interested in other peoples babies. I really, REALLY wanted my own kids, just not anybody elses.

    Nesting never happened in our house until I had actually given birth to number 1. I came home to a wonderfully clean house where the bathroom had even seen a lick of paint. I was only away for two days! Of course Man of the House has never before or since shown any kind of inclination to get so carried away without serious prompting, bugger….

    I have to say I do believe a little in instinct, before I had number 1 I thought I loved Man of the House with all my heart. After I met that tiny baby I realized that comparatively I did love the Man, but LOVED that little mite with every fibre of my being. (god I hope the man never reads this!) Overnight I became the mum with whom you do not want to f**k, surprising even myself.

    • I know the feeling of not feeling grown up. I think that’s part of the reason I’ve never thought seriously about having kids, until I met Michael. I’ve never felt fully confident that I could be trusted with the physical and psychological well-being of another…you know…living thing.

      Also, I suppose my refusal to believe in a nesting instinct is due to the fact that I really, really do not want people thinking I’m soft. “Clucky.” Yeah, no. The experiences I’ve had have taught me how to be, emotionally, like bone. And not some eighty-year-old arthritic, osteopathic bone either. I’m talking Olympic bone. Grrr!

      I watched Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” yesterday and I identified quickly and strongly with Kirsten Dunst’s character Justine. I may be a fatalist, but god damn it, when a random planet threatens to crash into mine I’ll be damned if I run all over Hell and back in a golf cart trying to do something about it. I’m going to chill on the stone wall and watch the damn thing roll in.

      That being said, I tear up any time a baby is born in a movie and I’m refusing to allow anyone but my husband, who will be sworn to eternal silence, into the delivery room. Because I know that the moment I see their bloody, cheesy little faces I’m going to transform – right that instant – into a quivery, pulpy mess of tears and snot. So…that’s going to be embarrassing. 😉

  2. Olympic bone, I love it 🙂 I am also not soft, although my family are loving and supportive so I am very fortunate. I am the meanest, hardest one of them all. I suppose it all had to come out somewhere!

    Nevertheless, when the kids do something that involves being brave in a way that really means something to them (getting up in front of a crowd, standing up to a bully) I am wearing sunglasses so nobody sees the tears of pride.

    I still don’t feel grown-up and I have managed to keep them alive for years and years now. I can’t tell you how surprising it is to me!

    I’m betting your husband will also be transformed into a teary mess, it will probably be a case of you keep my secret and I’ll keep yours 🙂

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