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Nesting, Nagging, and Nurture Shock

October 4, 2009   

Note: I might as well write this out rather than having it sit around in draft/ghost form, even if I don’t get to go in depth.

I guess this post is brought to you by the letter N. 😀 To be clear, the three topics have very little to do with each other (at least not directly, just vaguely in terms of my current state of thought), and are not meant to present one coherent thesis.

Nesting. I keep hearing about the nesting instinct and how it kicks in as the due date arrives. I wonder though how much of the last minute frenzy of preparation is just the normal reaction to any sort of deadline, versus a specific & distinct biological reaction to a baby coming. It’s kind of fruitless to try to determine any sort of breakdown though, because the end result is last minute prep anyway.

As for me, I’ve been so sleepy this past week that I’ve barely gotten anything done. I’ve done my best to ensure all the bills are up to date and that I’m calling and arranging things that I can from a resting position, but even a short jaunt out with Mobi or to the store leaves me in need of hours of sleep/rest afterward. There are several hours a day when I feel really great! Middle of the day and about an hour or two after meals are two distinct times that I feel like I’m totally fine and can do a lot more. 🙂

Nagging. I don’t remember why I was thinking about nagging. It probably has to do with some late night thought about how I want to interact with our pending child, how I interact with my own mom, and why sometimes this communication goes completely awry, even when both parties have the best intentions. To the best of my ability, this is what I believe happens during what is commonly perceived as “nagging”:

Nagger’s thoughts: I don’t know why I have to remind them again. I told them before. I can’t even tell if they are listening/paying attention. Is this getting through? Did they just forget? How many times do I have to repeat myself before it sticks? How many times do I have to repeat myself before they “hear” it? I am so tired of repeating myself! They should know better!

Naggee’s (yes, I know this is not a word) thoughts: I don’t know why they are telling me again. They already said this a million times. Do they just like to repeat themselves? I already know this and I will do/not do as they say, because I’ve made up my own mind. Maybe if I ignore them, they will see that I have no interest in hearing them repeat themselves and they will stop. They are being so annoying!

I think that the word “nag” is an unfortunate way to categorize and dismiss this type of communication that can happen between parents & kids, spouses, coworkers, etc. I recall when I was in high school, my mom would come into my bedroom every morning and say to me, “Wake up! You are going to be late!” Then she’d tsk and say, “If I didn’t wake you in the mornings, you’d never get to school on time.”

Every morning, I reacted in a very predictable way to this: I got angry or irritated or just hurt, depending on my teenagery mood of the day. Why?

  • I felt that I knew exactly how long I take to get ready, much better than she did, and she was asking me to wake up on her schedule, not on my assessment of my schedule. In short, I felt she was robbing me of my right to self-determination.
  • I felt that she had a poor idea of me, as a person, believing that I was so irresponsible as to be unable to accomplish a single task like get to school on time without her.

What I now think was going through her head:

  • Going to school is the single most important thing for Ei-Nyung right now. The best way I can help her is to get her started on her day.
  • I’ve never seen her wake up without my prompting, so it’s clear she needs to be prompted to wake up. When will she learn to get up on her own?

When I think about this with 20/20 hindsight, it’s clear that either one of us could have ended this “nagging” cycle by proposing that for one week, I am left to wake up on my own and see if I am late to school. If I am, then she is justified and I have no business complaining or being hurt. If I am not, then I should be left to wake myself up every morning.

The most frustrating part of it, for my teenage self, is that my desired time to wake up was always only about 5 minutes later than my mom’s internal panic timer for rousing me out of bed. Over those 5 minutes, we had countless pointless arguments and silent treatments over the years, and for no real reason except that we couldn’t quite articulate our positions well enough to each other to break through our habits.

If I had said to her, “Mom, I hear you and I understand you are worried and why you are worried. Let me handle it for a week and see if it works out,” then maybe she would not have felt like she was being ignored, wondering if she was getting through, wondering what I was thinking.

Even for things where I disagreed with her, it would have been better for me to have expressed it than have tried to just ignore her, making her feel unheard & frustrated, like her advice and wisdom were not getting through. Instead, in typical teenager fashion, I ignored her and hoped she would stop and just know she was being “annoying” and “nagging”.

Nurture Shock. Good book. Give it a read. I should probably say more, but I’m running out of steam. It’s along the lines of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” as far as being readable and exploring certain types of social/behavioral phenomena (raising of children, in this case). Maybe Seppo or Mack, who have also read it, will have something interesting to add about it. 🙂

October 4, 2009 at 9:17 pm

lol . i love the title of that book. nurture shock.

mama nabi
October 6, 2009 at 6:40 am

I think I might have to look into that book.

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