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AIBU to think an untidy, but clean house does NOT equate to child neglect?

(70 Posts)
hidingfornow Fri 16-Sep-11 23:56:52

Sorry, I've name changed for this.

I see DM about 3 times a year. Once a year is in their immaculately kept, spacious house, with no storage problems, no kids toys, hardly any books, etc.

The other 2 times is in my cramped, 2 bedroomed terrace, which has barely enough room for my furniture, let alone storage for DS's many toys, nor all the books I've obtained over the years while studying a literature course and having a deep love for books.

Today, DM turns up. There's a box of scrap paper and crayons by the fireplace which DS uses for drawing, arts, that kind of stuff. I've never found anywhere to store it, where it doesn't get in the way of something else. There's a few books on the mantelplace, just from that being closer to me when I was reading earlier. Oh, and a few wires. The house is far from being a tip. It's not spotless, it's not immaculate, but it's not a tip.

DF comments saying "I thought you said it was tidy", then laughs as he arrives. The first fucking thing he says to me.Straight away, DM starts launches into a rant, telling me that DS could be taken off me for neglect if social services came round, as my house wasn't tidy enough. Again, I accept my house isn't spotless, but it's tidy enough, given the lack of storage options here.

The thing is, she criticises every time she sees me. If it's not that my hair's too long, it's that I'm studying too much, or DS is getting too cheeky, or she doesn't like the curtains I've got up, or that I've not tidied up to her standard... Even that I bought the chocolate biscuits DF doesn't like on occassion.

AIBU to want her to stop criticising? And AIBU to think an untidy house does not equate to child neglect?

MaryMotherOfCheeses Sat 17-Sep-11 00:01:06

Of course you aren't being unreasonable.

Sounds like you're struggling to do anything and feel approved of.

This isn't about your house, it's about your parents' expectations of you. Sounds like hard work.

LikeACandleButNotQuite Sat 17-Sep-11 00:01:54

Next time she critisizes you or your home wilst visiting you, just say "gosh, it must be really hard spending time here what with me being such a slattern / bad mother / shit biscuit purchaser. You are such a trooper for putting yoursef through this woe for me".

AgentZigzag Sat 17-Sep-11 00:02:42

I don't mean this in a flippant way, but could she miss you needing her imput and so foists it on you in a clumsy way?

Did she enjoy doing stuff for you when you were small?

There's no way I'm excusing her criticising you because I hate that kind of shit, but it's what went through my head when I read your post.

carpwidow Sat 17-Sep-11 00:02:50

YABU. How dare you have chocolate biscuits, long hair and those curtains! Unbelievable! You unfit mother!! ;)

AgentZigzag Sat 17-Sep-11 00:05:42

And if I'm wrong and she's just got into the habit of criticising you about everything, then you don't have to have her approval and be upset/get pissed off if you don't.

What does it matter if she doens't like your hair? It's not her call to choose your hairstyles any more.

SaffronCake Sat 17-Sep-11 00:06:06

SS wont take your child off you because you have a box of paper and crayons (aka toys) at floor level.

SS wont take your child off you for having books on the mantel.

SS would only take your child off you about wires if the wires were a hazard and only then if it was a deadly serious hazard, like the sort you need an electrician to make safe or the sort that causes people to crash downstairs to a broken skull.

SS do not give a fuck how long your hair is, what your curtains look like (beyond the fit for purpose level) or what brand of biccies you buy. They might give a fuck about the studying, but you'd have to be doing it to the point of not feeding your son for that.

In fact, about the only thing I think SS would care about is if "cheeky" has an ASBO, a school exclusion or similar.

She sounds a nightmare, no wonder you retreated to the library.

thecaptaincrocfamily Sat 17-Sep-11 00:07:21

YADNBU - when I visit families I worry if it is spotless and extremely tidy because I think how are the children stimulated. I always tell new mums not to feel the house should be spotless. For me it is a good indicator of PND, especially if it wasn't like that ante-natally if I have visited. Children are the kings and queens of mess and it is normal grin
I've got one of the most untidy houses of all my friends smile

Crosshair Sat 17-Sep-11 00:09:56

Yanbu, my mum is the same, whatever you do it will never be good enough. sad

thecaptaincrocfamily Sat 17-Sep-11 00:10:05

Rest assured that if I walked into your house by what you say I would think it was lovely compared to some of the filthy states I have seen, that the children were not removed from. i.e. filthy, stinking of fags, kids with lice and worms, clothes filthy, never attending school etc.

MillyR Sat 17-Sep-11 00:12:11

Perhaps the main issue is that quite a lot of women have believed that keeping an immaculate house is a really important part of bringing up children, and so have spent huge amounts of their time on housework as a result.

If they then enter a house and it is untidy, but actually the child is perfectly happy and having a lovely time with some crayons, they may feel that is a criticism of them and all the time they spent doing housework rather than getting the crayons out for their kids.

Nobody likes to feel that something they spent a good portion of their life doing actually didn't really need to be done.

So she would then be criticising you because on some level she feels criticised by you making a different choice?

hidingfornow Sat 17-Sep-11 00:12:54

MaryMotherOfCheeses, I've given up expecting her to appprove of something. sad I've deferred my last year of uni, to spend more time with DS before he starts school next september. When I got my timetable had I studied this year, she moaned that I had a late lecture and it wasn't fair on DS. When I said I'd deferred a year, she moaned that I wasn't committed, etc.

LikeACandle, before she turned up, I was considering what to say when, not if she started about something today. I couldn't. I wanted to tell her that if she was going to criticise me, she could get out. I couldn't. DBs and DSis all say they've given up trying to keep her happy.

AgentZigZag, I think in a way, she does. I always remember the "but you can't do that" things she'd come out with when I was young.

Carpwidow, I know... unbelievably rude of me. wink

thecaptaincrocfamily Sat 17-Sep-11 00:12:57

Fwiw my mother is the same, I say to her that I will have all the time in the world for a tidy house once the dc leave home, but for now my priority is to keep the place cleanish and spend as much time playing with them as I can smile. I don't ever remember her doing anything vaguely messy when we were young - no painting, play doh, baking was much older, very dull sad but we did do walks and she read to us hmm

thecaptaincrocfamily Sat 17-Sep-11 00:19:10

Hiding its funny you say that because when I studied for my PG Dip which finished in Feb, dd2 was only 22 months when I started. All I got was 'its a lot to take on' 'are you sure you can do it' 'you won't see much of the girls'. This was true because for the course I also had to work full time and also study.
Yet she has no qualms about boasting to her friends about what I do now hmm

DooinMeCleanin Sat 17-Sep-11 00:29:24

My mother 'tidied' my house for me while I was on holiday (for 'tidied' read moved things from they should to god only knows where. I still cannot find my trainers).

She told me when I returned that I all had left to was to clean my skirting boards as they were a disgrace. My father told me if I did not keep my house the way my mother had it and I did not clean my skirting boards then he would call SS. I thanked them for looking after my cat and house and then reminded them that they know where the bucket and bleach is kept, if my skirting boards are that important to them, because I am buggered if I am doing it grin

YANBU, but don't let it get you down. Just shrug it off.

SaffronCake Sat 17-Sep-11 00:41:06

MillyR I think you might be onto something there.

madhattershouse Sat 17-Sep-11 00:44:20

I have been in immaculate houses that, without the photos, show no signs of a child living there. To be honest I find that more worrying than a messy house crowded with childrens paraphenailia IYSWIM!

hidingfornow Sat 17-Sep-11 00:53:11

Madhatters, that's almost like DB and DSil's house. 6 year old DNiece is only allowed to play with her toys in the conservatory or her bedroom. There's a few photos of the kids dotted about in cabinets, but I'd rather DS was in the same room as me, so I can join in his games as needed, or keep an eye on him.

thecaptaincroc I could almost ask if we share a mother, there... grin

dooinmecleanin One of the many reasons I wouldn't let DM house sit if she lived nearby.

i also think MillyR is onto something...

thecaptaincrocfamily Sat 17-Sep-11 01:01:33

hiding I am starting to think we also share the same mother and my DB and SIL house is also devoid of mess grin Maybe we share a secret family gringrin
milly you are definately onto something ......in fact my DM said to me when dd1 was 6 months 'you're a better mother than I ever was' sad Did feel sorry for her though because she probably had PND which wasn't really heard of then, as her mother, my DGmother died 3 months before I was born sad and she had no sisters to help or anything.

hidingfornow Sat 17-Sep-11 01:06:49

thecaptaincroc grin Now, that is odd. Sorry to hear your DM felt like that, though. sad

thecaptaincrocfamily Sat 17-Sep-11 01:15:01

It was one of the few moments I have been lost for words grin but yes it is sad

fit2drop Sat 17-Sep-11 01:15:29

When my health visitor visited (ok years ago now but same applies I reckon) I remember clearly apologising for the untidy house. I had three children at the time all under 4.
She told me she was always more concerned about the kids in houses she went to when there was no toys about, no photos, no baby paraphanalia etc. Almost as if no child lived there.She said unease would flag up in these homes. She said she would rather see a doll /teddy with no arms and scribbled on with tatty hair than a doll that looked like it was brand new as at least it proved the toy was played with and loved rather than a show toy which she had come across in her time as a HV.

As long as your child is happy and thriving and you are happy and content in your environment it makes no never mind even if its a cave, its got Feck all to do with anyone else no matter who they are.
^well maybe a cave is being a tad over dramatic but you get my gist ^grin

thecaptaincrocfamily Sat 17-Sep-11 01:17:15

I'm a HV and yes that still sets the alarm bells ringing smile

SaffronCake Sat 17-Sep-11 01:29:19

I had a terrible childhood, one of the problems with it was neglect/filth. Of my friends, the families who lived in houses stuffed with books, with mums who wanted to join in making collages, were the ones I most desperately used to pray would adopt me one day. The ones in the shiny houses were just as scary as the sticky carpets and dog poo in my own house, just in another way.

thecaptaincrocfamily Sat 17-Sep-11 01:45:10

sad safroncake

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