Saturday, December 1, 2012

This is Not My Beautiful House

by Samantha on December 1, 2012

How clean is your house? Could it withstand a visit from an unexpected guest?

How clean is your house? Could it pass the test that we all dread: unexpected guests?

I pose the question because a friend of mine relayed an irritating scenario to me that I just had to write about.

A friend of hers had been surprised by the friend’s mother-in-law (MIL) at her home. Apparently the MIL was horrified by the state of the house because the kids had (surprise, surprise) made a mess. The mother-in-law expected the house to be perfectly clean and in good shape at all times. Now here’s the kicker: the MIL insists that other people with kids have perfect houses that don’t look like a bomb went off in every room.

For the record, I think this MIL is insane.

On any given day, my house looks like both a tornado and tsunami have simultaneously crossed the threshold with a force that only Mother Nature could create. Toys abound, laundry baskets (full, of course) are plentiful and there may even be some scribbles and various “art” pieces that adorn my walls, courtesy of my twin boys. So??

I HAVE KIDS! Small kids at that! And like the mom who was berated by her oh-so-perfect mother-in-law, my house is not perfect. It is, however, in perfect disarray. As it should be. Kids, by definition, mean chaos. We love them, sure, but let’s face it: raising them on any given day, is chaotic, to say the least. There are soccer games to shepherd them to, and of course there’s the requisite soiled laundry pile that never seems to get done. There are playdates and birthday parties, homework assignments yet to be completed and class projects that require the full use of the dining room table. There are dishes in the sink, the dishwasher and, sometimes, in the kids rooms. Yes, the kids’ rooms (I may or may not have agreed to this, but it’s irrelevant). Regardless of where these dishes are found, they all need to be cleaned. My point is that some level of “mess” is part and parcel of having children. It’s a package deal, folks.

Perhaps this MIL is “old school,” and perhaps she ran her house like an army barracks when her kids were young. Everything had it’s place, I’m sure, and she may very well have raised her kids (and spouse, no doubt) with an iron fist. I know the type. Nothing less than perfection in housekeeping is acceptable. While this may work on the surface of things (the house is always clean when folks come over, unannounced or not), the reality that belies this type of scenario is less-than-perfect. Because, let’s face it: keeping a house in order at all times takes work, even if you don’t have kids. Add even one little rug rat to the equation and you will gain more than a few grey hairs and your blood pressure will likely skyrocket. It’s just the way things go. Add two or more to the mix and…well, I don’t have to go on. As far as I’m concerned, we parents need a break and a pass from the prying eyes and subsequent criticism of those who feel holier-than-thou. Mother-in-law or not, unless you’re also dealing with the perpetual laundry hell borne of a family of active children, you have no right to comment.

Judge lest not ye be judged. Remember?

So back to this friend of a friend and her prying mother-in-law. Here’s what I would suggest to her:

1) Tell the mother-in-law to back off and mind her own business. Difficult to do, I know, but oh, so cathartic when done.

2) Refuse to answer the door when MIL (or anyone else) drops in unannounced. It’s your house, after all, and you should be the one who dictates when someone crosses the threshold to your comfortably messy house.

3) Enlist the support of her spouse (MIL’s son) in getting the message across that insults and criticisms are not welcome. It is his mother so he should take the lead in speaking to her and supporting his wife. He’s wise to remember that old but  very truthful expression: “When mom’s not happy, NO ONE is happy!

So let me pose this question to you: Is your home ready for unexpected guests? How would you deal with this mother-in-law in this situation?


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Hashtag, I am Your Father

by Samantha on December 1, 2012

Will little "Hashtag" change her name when she becomes an adult?

What’s in a name?

In the age of social media, hashtags. To be specific a hashtag. Proper.

“Hashtag Jameson” apparently made her way into the world recently, and to mark her entrance, her parents named her after one of the more popular social media symbols around. The “hashtag,” or # symbol, is used primarily on Twitter to mark a trending topic, keyword or subject so that others using the same marker can find each other. Simple right? One would think so, though the introduction of the symbol as a first name may complicate things somewhat. Like it wasn’t hard enough that parents have difficulty naming their babies without having to now add options such as the @ sign, the Facebook “Like” or the Google + to the mix. The possibilities are now even more endless. Sadly.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about individuality, unique baby names and standing out from the crowd. Heck, I’ve even written about my stance on this topic, here, and practice what I preach. That being said, naming a child after what was previously known as a “pound sign” is a bit much in my humble opinion.

On a more serious note, isn’t it hard enough for kids these days considering the (unfortunate) ease of cyber-bullying, the proliferation of those looking for the next “viral” video and and more to worry about? Did the parents really give this decision enough thought, considering the fact that the name “hashtag” is not likely to top those annual lists of the most popular baby names for the year? What will little Hashtag be called for short? “Hash?” “Hashie?” “Hash-Hash?”

Kids can be cruel and while we are living in a more enlightened age than before and our kids are exposed to a diverse range of cultures, the concept that the name “Hashtag” will become the next “Emma” is a bit of a stretch. Kids will be kids and little Hashtag may be at the mercy of the schoolyard or online bullies.

Yes, I know that other parents have embraced the impact of social media in their lives, like the ones who named their child after the Facebook “Like” button and the folks who decided to name their child “Facebook.” While they may have had their reasons, one still wonders if they fully thought their decision through.

I’m really hoping that the baby named “Hashtag” is yet another internet hoax, a viral joke gone awry, and that there isn’t really a child who will have to defend their moniker for years to come. After all, interesting topics on Twitter deserve a hashtag; babies don’t.

What do you think of the parent’s decision to name their child “Hashtag?” Do you think that these types of names will become more popular as social media use increases? Answer in the comments below.


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