Are women hardwired to nest?

My husband has been working some out of New York City and staying in a corporate apartment when he’s there.  We went to visit him during Christmas break and while the apartment was perfectly lovely, I couldn’t believe how little he had in his cupboards and refrigerator.  It was truly a bachelor’s apartment.

He had some milk, eggs, cheese, bread, peanut butter, grapes, lettuce, some cold cuts and some spreadable butter but that was pretty much it. What in the heck had he been eating? Was he going out or just not eating at all? (He said the office kept having parties and he was living off of that.)

When he first started staying at the apartment, I had him show me via Facetime what I would have to work with in the kitchen when we visited. There was one fry pan, three pots, one brownie pan, the top to a broiler pan but no under part. There was a coffee maker. The apartment only had five sets of cutlery – we needed six because Michael’s brother was also joining us. The knives were sub par.  So I packed my favorite knife, a cutting board, a set of cutlery, my favorite coffee and photocopied favorite recipes before leaving.

I shoved into my overstuffed luggage new cozy slippers for him and books to read. I tried to fit in a throw blanket but didn’t have the space.

When we arrived in the city, I hit the grocery store around the corner and stocked up on essentials for cold weather — tomato soup, good sourdough bread for grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta, hot cocoa with marshmallows, and lots of fruit.  The only catch is that in New York, you have to be able to carry what you buy. (They do have delivery service for groceries for an extra $5 but I like the challenge of lugging it all home.)

I bought tin foil and disposable foil pans to roast in. With the foil I could turn the broiler pan into a workable cookie sheet for Christmas cookies and rolls and biscuits.  I bought pre-made manicotti, added sauce and cheese for a lovely pasta bake with friends after a cold day visiting the Statue of Liberty. I bought a spiral-sliced ham with a pre-made glaze and baked that for Christmas Eve and for sandwiches. I used the ham for breakfast too in cheese biscuits. Then did roast beef two nights later, which lasted several days. I made mashed potatoes several nights with the spreadable butter and half-and-half that I used for coffee.

I left him with a full cupboard, leftover roast beef and even got him a shopper’s discount card at the local grocery store for when he’s there.

Even staying for just 12 days, I felt the need to make the apartment home, why didn’t he? Are women hard-wired to homemake or is this just me? When you go into a new home environment – like a condo for vacation – do you want to make it homey or is that different than the holidays? Or is it all about having food in the house for kids?

29 comments Add your comment

motherjanegoose

January 2nd, 2014
10:08 pm

Not big on making a vacation condo homey. I am there to relax, not to drum up more work for myself. Perhaps that is just me.

Mother of 2

January 2nd, 2014
10:14 pm

I don’t think it’s just you, but I also don’t think that all women are hard wired to nest. My husband lived out of an apartment while we were in transition. He didn’t want it to be more homey because he just slept there. I found the place depressing.

FCM

January 3rd, 2014
8:51 am

I read that you cooked a bunch…but how did that make it all homey? Now if you had gotten a bedspread, pillows, artwork, that throw you mentioned, etc….yeah I can see that as nesting.

My SIL and I have discussed it…We think most women go into a home and redecorate it in their head. Even the really nice ones :)

You did a good job of stretching what you bought. I need to do more of that in 2014.

catlady

January 3rd, 2014
8:55 am

I think we are hardwired to PROVIDE for our families. Some do that by working full-time and housekeeping, and some do it by just housekeeping (that includes cooking, of course).

catlady

January 3rd, 2014
9:05 am

In the case of Michael, Theresa, I doubt he considers it his home. It is where he sleeps. It would be his home if you and the children lived there.

catlady

January 3rd, 2014
9:11 am

BTW, Theresa, I hope you put your healthy kids to work “lugging it home.”

Mayhem

January 3rd, 2014
9:21 am

I think it has a lot to do with how men are raised. My husband and brother were both raised by parents who insisted they know how to take care of themselves. Both hubs and my brother are excellent cooks, and both take care of their families.

Anton Chigurh

January 3rd, 2014
9:22 am

John and Thirsty are mean. Ignore them.

SEE

January 3rd, 2014
9:55 am

When I went to South Korea to teach, the female and male teachers were housed separately. The female apartment had plants, extra furniture that we “found” (left on the side of the road to be dumped) and spruced up. It definitely had more cooking tools and we took pains to decorate for the holidays. We also had curtains. We enjoyed every minute of the decorating and the look it produced. The guys did none of that and didn’t seem to notice the lack. When we invited the guys over, we served home-cooked meals. When the guys invited us over, they would buy home-cooked meals. So yeah, I believe there is a difference. It’s not a matter of the guys “not taking care of themselves”, they just didn’t see the need for all the little “extras” that we gals felt made our apartment a home.

motherjanegoose

January 3rd, 2014
10:18 am

@ SEE…I see your point :). If I were going to be there for a while, I would certainly want to make the place comfortable. If I knew it was temporary, not so much.

I recently mentioned that my son did not have a Christmas tree, to a friend. She thought I should go over to his apartment and put one up for him, as a surprise. I laughed and said that would take security codes and a code to get in and park my car plus I would have to lug it up on an elevator. I mentioned it to him and he told me that since he was there by himself and working quite a bit, it was not something he needed. Perhaps Michael is not too concerned with the apt. as he is only there to sleep? My son had several friends help him decorate his apartment and it is nice but he did not think he needed a tree.

@ Mayhem…lucky you! My husband did not come with many cooking skills. He has learned to make a few things, since I travel. He does make breakfast and is MUCH better at eggs over easy than I am. I seem to break them half the time.

My husband told me, years ago, that his mother and sister came to the apartment he shared with his brother and cleaned it once a month. HAHA…I am not doing that for my son. I have met several moms of college boys who tell me they still do this. NOT me.

@ FCM…I do not redecorate. I do find different decors fascinating. I also find different housing interesting. What is customary in one part of the country is not even thought of in another. When I first started teaching ( in Texas) I mentioned basements to my Kinder class. They had NO idea what I was talking about. I had to draw a picture on the chalkboard to illustrate and they thought it was really cool.

TWG…are you sure you are ready for the winter transition from Phoenix to what is happening weatherwise in NYC today? YIKES!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 3rd, 2014
11:24 am

A couple of notes —
He did get a little Christmas tree and like five balls and two strings of lights. it sat on the coffee table.
FCM — I think for me cooking is homey. I didn’t feel the need to decorate because it is so temporary but did want the kids to feel cozy especially because was cold during our visit. (Not as cold and snowy as today.)

I love New York because of all the exercise and walking — We walked 10 blocks up to our old church and then stopped at a cheaper grocery store in that neighborhood and then the big kids helped carry all the groceries 10 blocks. (Other trips I went to the close one alone.) They did a good job lugging for 10 blocks. (I actually lost weight on the trip even though it was the holidays. We walked a ton.)

MJG — since we lived there before we know how to layer. We did pretty good job with lots of light layers under big coats – out here once it hits 115 there’s nothing you can do but swim or stay indoors.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 3rd, 2014
12:13 pm

SEE — I think that’s a perfect example — I think the college kids’ apt and dorm rooms are the same. The girls in my class were sooo about crafting, cooking and decorating. I would be afraid to see the boys’ apts. But the girls were super crafty!!

motherjanegoose

January 3rd, 2014
12:47 pm

@ TWG…good for you! It is a good thing not everyone likes to live in the same place. I do not care for NYC, as it is too busy for me. I do like Boston and we visit every few years. I had a friend put something on her Facebook about enjoying country living…as in on the farm. That does not appeal to me either. I like where we live in suburbia. I could live in Denver though, as I enjoy the change of weather and the mountains. They get a fair amount of snow but then the temp. can be 50. It helps that we know quite a few folks there.

jarvis

January 3rd, 2014
1:52 pm

I don’t nest, nor do I care about “sleeping in my own bed”. These are both more typical female traits I believe.

I like NYC. Fun place to be. Will you try to raise your family in the city?

motherjanegoose

January 3rd, 2014
3:01 pm

@ jarvis…I can sleep anywhere…if I fall asleep!

Once, I was in NE Colorado for a meeting. As I entered the hotel, I saw a lady pulling in the luggage cart. She had a comforter, pillow shams, bedskirt, sheets, towels, pillows and a box fan. I whispered to the front desk, “what is she doing?” The reply, “she stays here one week a month and wants all of her own things…we are not allowed to touch her room.”

WOW!

missnadine

January 3rd, 2014
3:25 pm

Sounds like perhaps he enjoyed living without all the stuff your brought him. He’s a grown man for Pete’s sake. Did you do all his laundry as well? Let the man live as he pleases, whether that is going out to eat, or eating chips on the couch. Office parties? Sure!

FCM

January 3rd, 2014
3:58 pm

@ TWG–perhaps it is the smells of dinner that make it homey to you. My kids are like that when we walk into my parents house. Mom is retired now and she bakes often. The kids love that grandma’s house always smells like cookies and cake. That is just how grandma’s house is supposed to smell according to them.

@MJG I said most women not all. :) You obviously fall outside that observation…although I am willing to change it to most women “we” know. My SIL is currently rehabing a dresser.

missnadine

January 3rd, 2014
4:23 pm

I guess I don’t “get’ why so many women feel the need to mother their spouses. I have been married for 20 years, and my mothering was toward my kids, not my husband. My husband already has a mom.

C from Marietta

January 3rd, 2014
4:39 pm

Hmm

Not hard to figure out. He is working all the time. While your at home at the time. Gender roles nah. Just work.

Class of '98

January 3rd, 2014
5:00 pm

“Was he going out or just not eating at all?”

I’m no doctor, but I’m guessing he probably ate something from time to time.

Cheez Whiz is cheese peeing?

January 4th, 2014
8:28 am

I see……Women are better than men.

SEE

January 4th, 2014
10:00 am

It’s not a matter of women being better than men, it’s a difference of personality. How the inside of my house looks is important to me for psychological reasons that are hardwired into my brain. My husband and other men I’ve known, that is not the case. It’s not that their place isn’t clean, it just seems bare to me. I’m sure to many men, who don’t seem to have that psychological need, all our effort and money spent on home décor seems an unnecessary waste.

SEE

January 4th, 2014
10:09 am

@Theresa, there was nothing wrong with the guys apartment, it was just rather bare. They had what was necessary and that was it. I don’t know if we gals were more “crafty” than the guys, but we had a need to decorate. It’s the same difference, I believe, with electronics. I don’t notice the difference between HDMI and regular picture. My husband and my sons could tell the difference, but not me.

elbert chambers

January 4th, 2014
11:10 am

If the wise men and been women, they would have brought practical gifts, and a hot dish with pampers as well a green been casserole!
Your beloved should be proud of you and your mothering abilities! You are a strong independent woman, who knows what is important!

Atlanta Mom

January 4th, 2014
5:06 pm

What would you have done if the children had not been with you? Would you have cooked all those meals or gone out?
My experience is different things are important to different people. My husband would have had peanut butter, white bread and coffee and been perfectly content. My mother used to comment about how all I had in my refrigerator was carrots and celery. When I was single I ate a big meal at lunch and had canned soup or a frozen dinner when I was home at night.

motherjanegoose

January 4th, 2014
6:00 pm

@ elbert….perhaps the wise men realized they were meeting a King and decided against a bib or rattle. Not sure one would bring a practical gift to a King but then I have never met one nor been invited to be in the same room with one:

Since the early days of Christianity, Biblical scholars and theologians have offered varying interpretations of the meaning and significance of the gold, frankincense and myrrh that the magi presented to Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew (2:11). These valuable items were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world: gold as a precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil.

motherjanegoose

January 4th, 2014
6:01 pm

@ Atlanta Mom….TRUTH: My experience is different things are important to different people.

The older I get, the more I realize this!

Mayhem

January 5th, 2014
8:34 am

MJG do you have any sense of humor at all? Elbert’s post was tongue in cheek……..

motherjanegoose

January 5th, 2014
1:19 pm

@ Mayhem….only in person. :) I laugh with teachers and children all week. Part of the reason I love my job.

I made the comment because it was something recently discussed at our church. Some folks wonder why those types of gifts were given to a baby. Thought I would share that perspective. Maybe everyone already knew?