The Anti Nesting Instinct


We still have 8 month left of this term.  Itineration is still too far away to begin disengaging from responsibilities and friendships.  But I can tell that I’ve already begun to lean into the change.  How can I tell, you may ask?  I have noticed a purging impulse has been activated in me.  I call it “The Anti Nesting Instinct”.

When a mother is waiting for a baby to be born, she starts frantically putting the house in order in preparation for her new arrival.  The Honey-Do list starts to fill up with all those little household repairs that have been ignored for so many months or years.  Mom-to-be starts filling up the house with new purchases and organizing drawers full of teeny tiny clothing.  That’s The Nesting Instinct.

Photo credit: jamelah / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: jamelah / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

So, logically, The Anti Nesting Instinct involves purging, cleaning out, throwing out, and giving away things.  It is recognized in the peacefulness of gazing contently into a nearly empty closet.  Its joy is magnified with each new pile of possessions successfully delivered to its new owners.  My recycling bin runneth over.

Last Saturday I tackled my daughters’ bed room.  It was a hoarder’s paradise.  The amount of cardboard and paper that I hauled out of their room was horrifying.  The scraps of old craft projects, plastic bottles rescued from the recycling bin, and half colored pieces of paper were pretty much the only things holding up my middle child’s bed.  I removed 4 full garbage bags of pure trash from their room, a mountain of toys and books that they had grown out of, and another bag full of clothes to give away.  This morning my daughter told me that she’s been opening and closing her closet door just for fun.  I understand this since more than once this week I’ve stood gazing with satisfaction into their super clean and nearly empty closet.  I love an organized closet.

Yes, the urge to purge has even manifested itself in my work at school.  I am tackling disorganization, clutter, and an absurd amount of pure junk that has been stored here since Jesus was a small child.  I am busting through cobwebs and pawing through moldy boxes in search of anything useful for my teachers before I dump the contents of a whole cabinet in the recycling bin.  Clean is a beautiful moment.

So even though it’s really too early to start thinking about leaving on itineration, my emotions are releasing their connection to the things I live with.  I have a mental To-Do list with dates attached to each task.  I will tackle these projects one by one and whittle away the last few months before we must face the overwhelming task of packing up the house for storage.  The Anti Nesting Instinct has kicked in.

5 responses »

  1. I have to admit this is the one thing about missions that I didn’t see coming. I thought missionaries go to the field and die there. When I realized that was not true (well not normally) and that they actually come home every few years or move to other fields I was disturbed. Why? Because we as women like to nest, grow roots, decorate, make a home. It has taken me some time to wrap my brain around even buying furniture. The old will do because its only for a short time. But then what if that short time becomes a life time? Oh it is hard living in limbo.

    • I can’t stand the idea of having two households, one on the field and one at home. So we sold almost everything back home. I hate going home and saying, “I don’t want to buy one of those for just a year… I already HAVE one back in Costa Rica!” America now feels more temporary than ever.

      • I totally get that. For me its just the opposite. Because we are MAs I feel more in limbo. Our commitment time line is less and there for there is always the question of ‘what’s next?’ Instead of ‘I’m home.” And then I am cheap and hate to waste money! Lol!

  2. I’m glad it isn’t just me… The countdown to a big task like moving again starts in my mind long before it should. Maybe to mentally prepare, to declutter, to let go and begin readying to say goodbye. but yes to this

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