Do you set a good example to those around you? Are you “good” all of the time?

The last time my mother-in-law was coming to visit, I spent a good hour or so racing around our house, cleaning and tidying. It wasn’t that dirty or messy before I started, either. It is just that her standards of tidiness far surpass mine.

I found myself telling my daughter that when she has her own home, she doesn’t needClean, white kitchen. Setting a bad example to clean or tidy for me. But what will she remember? That one sentence, or the shouting and anxiety that preceeded it?

I think our most extreme example of this was before another relative came to stay. She is the sort of person people get their best China out for. I have rebelled at times and given her tea in a mug (gosh!), but this wasn’t going to be one of those visits.

We moved into our current house over 3 years ago. There are lots of things we have changed, particularly downstairs. One area of our house that hasn’t changed a jot is the 1980s bathroom.

I grew up in a house that had a mid-brown bathroom suite. It was perfectly functional, yet not all that gentle on the eye. We didn’t have the money to change it.

In a similar way, the majority of our 1980s bathroom is in working order. The shower may leak into the kitchen, so we use the one in the ensuite. When we rarely use it, we couldn’t justify the expense of changing it. Given that our daughter is now in double figures, we are reviewing the situation as she may require more privacy in the future.

There was one part of the bathroom that I couldn’t bear. And that was the toilet seat. It was an old wooden one, swollen in places with potentially unmentionable fluids. Before our regal guest visited, I insisted on a replacement.A pristine bathroom. Setting a bad example.

Apparently, that’s pretty hard-core.  Changing the hand towel, yes. Buying a new loo seat for visitors: they must be some visitor.

And so it continues. My daughter is unlikely to remember that people can take us as they find us (a little messy but loved and homely). What she is more likely to remember is that someone posher than us comes to stay, we make radical changes. I only hope she doesn’t fall into this trap herself!

Perhaps it is something to do with keeping up appearances.

Most of us change our behaviour to some degree depending on who we are with. Our visitor was slating Debenhams. To me, it is quite a posh shop! Did I open mouth to say this? I did not. I did not wanting her to think badly of me.

And yet I know there are some people who would describe our family as “posh” because of where we live. (They forget, of course, the road noise and the distance to school…) The biggest compliment I have been paid recently is when a friend described me as being “one of us”.

It can be hard not to change when we are with others.  Providing our behaviour is not different from our core beliefs, perhaps it does not matter.  Perhaps coming to the level that others are at is a good thing.  However, if we feel we need to change in order to be acceptable to others, this can be a shame.  Letting people see that we are the same inside and out can only be a good thing, providing we have good intentions.  We do not always have to wear a mask.  If we can get to the state where we don’t need one, this will bring us happiness.

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18 comments

    1. I think,for me, it’s the accumulated junk that needs putting away that I get anxious about. My children have a habit of throwing their coats and shoes under the stairs, rather than putting them away. I’m never at my best after I’ve been bent double, trying not to bang my head, whilst tidying that area…

  1. This one really made me smile Becky!! Our mother would get in such a panic when certain visitors were expected. We all had to rush about making everything ‘ perfect’ because ” The Clouds are coming!” It has remained a source of amusement for all our life for my sister and me. Sadly, I think, a bit of this has rubbed off on me but I try not to worry too much now. We should accept who we are and how we live and, surely, the welcome visitors get is more important. Easier said than done!!

    1. My mother-in-law has always been teased about having her little finger up when she drinks a cup of tea on front of this relative. I think her anxiety has rubbed off on me somewhat! I wasn’t impressed when an elderly neighbour called in one day, and wondered if other people with children wouldn’t mind the clutter. I wouldn’t have minded but I had tidied up before she came!!

  2. I’ve been obsessed with trying to be cleaner and tidier recently, but I don’t know why I do it. I mean, people come to see me and the family, right? They don’t really care how clean the house is!!

    Louise x

    1. I’ve been trying to tidy up “troublesome” areas of our house. It does feel really satisfying when they are done!

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