I recently watched a nature documentary about animal homes and one episode was about nests. I learned some interesting facts about nest building that related to my emerging human homemaking skills.
If you are new to my blog, you might be interested to know that I am a rookie housewife by day and a blogger by night. OK, that sounded really cheesy so if you have to navigate away from this page, I understand…
….Oh! You’re still here! Yay! With the Avengers movie buzz in the air I must be thinking of myself as some type of self-help superhero with the words above…
I must admit, I have much more practice at writing and photography than homemaking. I had to write a lot of research papers in graduate school and have always kept a journal. I have taken photographs since I was a preteen when we still used film, had to wait nearly two weeks before getting prints back, there was a high likelihood that the shot you wanted didn’t develop or you cut someone’s head out of the shot. Whenever I open my photo albums full of photos from middle and high school I thank God that during those days Facebook and social media did not exist.
Writing and photography feel like second nature to me, so this blogger by night thing comes more easily than my housewife by day gig.
I have been married for a few years now and until a few months ago, I was working full-time and used that as an excuse to let the housework slide until the weekend or when company was expected. Now, housekeeping is basically my primary responsibility and at times I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. A dish wand and a broom feel foreign to me even though I love to wear an apron, be a wife, and watch afternoon talk shows.
How did I reach adulthood without a knack for cleaning you might wonder? As a child, my mom and college-age sister kept our house clean and I always had a messy room that my mom would help me clean when it got out of control. I remember my ploy for getting out of cleaning was to sit on the floor in front of my bookcase and tell her I was dusting or organizing the books. She would speedily clean up my room while I would flip through my favorite Berenstain Bears and Fraggle Rock books.
I took over the responsibility for cleaning my room as I entered adolescence. I occasionally had to clean the bathroom I shared with my mom, but can’t recall a time where I had to mop or wash dishes. My biggest household contributions were vacuuming and voluntarily cleaning out the family refrigerator while my parents wore big smiles.
In college and graduate school, I didn’t have much stuff so clutter wasn’t a terrible issue and when I lived alone my messes could be cleaned up within a couple hours. Now, cleaning up after myself, my husband and our dog makes me concerned how I’m going to deal with kids once they are introduced to the mix.
The PBS nest documentary taught me a few things about eased some of my worries about nest/homemaking:
- Some birds make a nest first and then choose a mate to then have babies. Until I watched this, I thought birds were making nests as the eggs were in the bird waiting to be laid. This probably comes from my last minute attempts to clean before any major event.
- The male bird might start making the nest first to attract a mate. This taught me that your partner’s homemaking skills regardless of their gender greatly effect your marriage if you don’t learn to deal with conflict in a positive way.
- Some birds steal other birds’ well-built nests. I guess this is where humans hire housekeepers or browse Pinterest for organization and cleaning ideas.
- Cow birds lay eggs in other birds’ nests for the other type of bird incubate to raise as their own. Adoption is awesome!
- Experienced nest builders build better nests than first-time nesters. This gave me the most comfort of all. It reminded me that I’m not a loser because I’m still learning what is the most effective way to clean a bathtub, organize my cabinets and closets, and clean floors.
Before I watched this documentary, my husband commented a couple times that all the organizing, cleaning (or attempting to clean), etc. that I’ve been doing around the house is “nesting.” Huh? I’m not expecting and about to give birth. Before watching this nature film, that’s a term that I would associate with third trimester pregnant woman. As I watched the program, I realized that I am nesting even though I am not currently expecting.
To think of it another way, maybe we nest in our lives to usher in any new stage: a new baby, a new dwelling, change of season, experiencing a death in our family, getting divorced or breaking up, starting a new habit…
As a teen, I would often rearrange the furniture in my bedroom when I was having social issues ranging from crushes to mean girl problems. Looking back with what I know now, I was nesting.
Building a nest is difficult. It takes large amounts of patience and time. Birds have to scavenge for and gather all their nesting materials one piece at at time and then weave and arrange them using only their beak! Imagine having to scavenge for each piece of straw to make a broom and then once it’s made sweep with your hands tied behind your back. I feel overwhelmed just typing that sentence!
Because I am a first-time nest builder I am experiencing a bit of a learning curve. Which techniques and products are best, what daily/weekly routine works for me, etc. I shouldn’t expect myself to be some combination of Betty Crocker, June Cleaver and Martha Stewart in a few months.
My aim is to be my own brand of modern feminist housewife, but more importantly, my best self.
Those who admire the freedom of birds have never built a nest.
Thankfully, I have the freedom to choose to be a housewife, a career woman or some blended balance of the two. From my experience, balance is almost impossible when you’re trying to “do it all.” For example, I was entertaining hiring a housekeeper before I resigned from my job because I couldn’t do everything and be healthy and happy. I have had working women friends tell me recently they are envious of my ability to be home full-time. I feel flattered, but also slightly embarrassed that I’m possibly being self-indulgent.
Then, I reframe the thought and remind myself that for now this stage of life is about self-care and all I have to focus on is building my nest…which brings its own joys and challenges daily.