Set in a fictional US town populated by successful men and their once-normal-now-perfect wives, Stepford is the idyllic place to live. A place where the men spend all of their spare time at a ‘men’s club’, while the women cook and clean and smile docilely into the distance, causing not a trouble at all. Which sounds like a sort of utopia, doesn’t it? For the men, at least. Except that there’s a sinister undercurrent regarding what exactly is happening to these women to make them so, shall we say, agreeable. And while I’m fairly certain it’s never made clear whether the formerly independent women involved in the plot are, as suggested, being replaced by robots, or if they’ve been altered using microchips, or what, I have a theory that may explain everything – and it has nothing to do with mind control.
My theory is this:
All of those women, those feverishly empowered and single minded, brilliant women, are in their third trimester of pregnancy, and have been bitten by the nesting bug.
No but seriously, it makes sense.
… At least, to me it does, due to the fact that that is exactly what has turned me into a cleaning, mothering, is-this-to-do-with-getting-my-home-ready-for-my-two-children-because-if-not-why-are-you-bothering-me-with-it machine, and I’m almost certain I’m not alone.*
(*I’d say I hope I’m not alone, but quite honestly, all I care about right now is whether I have enough Pink Stuff left to toothbrush clean the rest of my kitchen tiles, so…)
Now, nesting is normal. Described by whattoexpect.com as ‘a burst of energy women often get in the last few weeks of pregnancy that inspires them to clean and organise the house in preparation for baby’s arrival,’ it is apparently nature’s way of ensuring the mama bear within us has house and home ready for her cub, with defences in place against predators/that one weird uncle everyone avoids at family functions.
Which is fantastic, clearly.
But, my god, is it counter-productive in some ways, too.
You see, one of the big issues I faced after the arrival of R was loss of identity. It’s not an uncommon problem in the world of new motherhood, though it is one many of us get a bit funny about discussing publicly, because mum shaming. For me, it hit like a tonne of bricks in those first few weeks, as I struggled to marry up the woman I was pre-motherhood to the woman I was now becoming as a mother. I forgot everything about myself that I had spent so long learning. I didn’t know how to talk to other adults about anything other than the colour of my son’s poo. I stopped reading. I stopped showering. Putting on make up felt a step too far. And I didn’t write a word for months. (I did have breastfeeding-issue-related postnatal depression, as it turns out, but I feel that’s beside the point.)
And what that has to do with nesting is this: I’m fairly certain that identity loss began when this (then) new urge took hold.
Which is why, this time around, I am taking back control. Control from my hormones. Control from my brain’s incessant mantra of ‘must get things done.’ Control, full stop. Or, I’m trying to, at least. Because in reality it’s not like I have a huge amount of say in this beast that has taken hold of my brain in as much of a parasitic way as an early foetus can take hold of the big internal button marked ‘VOMIT’. But god loves a trier, as they say. She also loves an honest motherhood moment (I mean, I’m guessing, I don’t actually know) so, truth time, if you were to ask me: ‘Have you found yourself on your hands and knees scrubbing at the floor with that toothbrush you mentioned earlier?’ The answer would be yes. ‘Are you thinking constantly about how to improve every single room in your home in order to make it ‘ready’?’ Again, yes. ‘And are you, even now, rushing to write this just that little bit faster, so you can get back to preparing the new nursery?’ Guilty as charged.
But am I also forcing myself to still engage in some of the activities I enjoyed – both as a mother and a stand-alone member of the female species – pre-nesting itch? Well… I’m still writing, aren’t I? And Bridgerton/It’s A Sin/Best Leftovers Ever didn’t binge watch themselves. Which I am taking as a win.
*Checks watch surreptitiously*
Now if you’ll excuse me, I really do have things to be doing…
… Where did I put that paintbrush?
A SW quote that makes me laugh, every time:
Husband: “Only high powered, neurotic, castrating Manhattan career bitches wear black. Is that what you wanna be?”
Wife: “Ever since I was a little girl.”