The generational gap between my grandmother, mother, and me has become far vaster in recent weeks. I don’t know if it’s because my mom and I are home more now that school has ended, or if it’s just because I’m paying more attention to what’s happening and being said around me, but it seems like we are worlds apart. These things will never, ever be something we can agree on:
I didn’t own an iron until my mother bought one for me two years ago. I have used it once, to iron curtains that were driving me crazy because they weren’t hanging straight. I eventually gave up trying to iron them and threw them into our steam dryer, so I don’t even know if that counts. We fold our clothes and hang them up and put them away at least six weeks after they are dry, so we’re really not a very wrinkly family.
When we are invited to weddings, my mom takes the clothes we are going to wear to her house and irons them because she can’t stand knowing that we might make a grand, wrinkled appearance at a social function. Forget that my husband and I have to wrestle two kids while we are getting ready and that being tackled by those same kids while we’re on our way out the door makes us wrinkly anyway. She can’t stand knowing that we are wearing clothes that have not been introduced to an ironing board. This is the same woman who irons jeans. Jeans! She stands and “gets clothes ready” for hours every night so that she and my dad are freshly pressed in the morning. She has been known to take people’s shirts off of their bodies, just so she can iron them before anyone leaves the house.
Then, there’s my grandmother. She irons underwear and kitchen towels. I wish I were using my powers of sarcasm and hyperbole here, but I’m not. The woman literally will iron any piece of cloth in her home if she detects even a hint of a wrinkle. I know for a fact that it takes her hours upon hours to iron her curtains after washing them for Christmas and spring cleaning. Thank goodness she’s retired and has oodles of time on her hands.
I own two regular vacuums, a stick vac, a carpet cleaner, and a steam mop. I clean as often as possible, which sometimes means weeks pass before the steam mop is freed from its space in the closet because it isn’t always possible to clean with our two little ones around the house. The only time I get down on my hands and knees to clean a floor is if the little guy pees on the rug during a diaper change or if someone spills a massive amount of liquid. Otherwise, I grab one of those handy dandy appliances and go to town on our vinyl, laminate, or carpeted floors. The steam mop means no chemicals and a quicker drying time.
My mother and grandmother turned up their noses when I got the steam mop. They even turned up their noses at the stick vac, until my grandmother tried the thing and loved it. It probably helped that I had her use her broom and dustpan in front of a sun-filled window so she could see all of the dirt and dust flying around while she “cleaned.” I gave her our older model stick vac, and she’s still using it. My mom, on the other hand, can’t seem to let go of that broomstick. We tease her that she clings to it because it doubles as a mode of transportation for her, but she doesn’t appreciate our stab at humor.
What these two old-fashioned women can’t seem to get past is the fact that I don’t fill a bucket with hot water and some sort of cleaning agent, grab a rag, and scrub the vinyl and laminate floors on my hands and knees. Apparently, a floor isn’t clean until you’ve killed your knees and back in the process of cleaning it. They ask me when I’m really going to scrub our floors. I have offered to let them do it for me, since I’m apparently failing by using the steam mop, but neither has taken me up on the offer yet.
My cell phone is within arm’s reach virtually every minute of the day. It’s my link to email, texts, tweets, updates, weather, likes, comments, and almost everything else during the day. I am not perusing the web every day, all day long, on my phone. I do, however, have to look at it frequently during the day for information about my freelance job, and it’s my number one device for communication.
My mother has caught on to the cell phone era almost as well as my grandmother caught on to the benefits of the stick vac. Mom texts and calls proficiently, and she knows that if she wants to reach me quickly, she has to text.
My grandmother, though, bless her heart, has no idea where her cell phone is 99% of the day. She hardly ever turns the thing on, and she has no idea what a text is. She says the cell phone is best used in emergencies, and I hope she never needs it because she’d be screwed. Her aversion to her own cell phone, though, means that she avoids our cell phones as much as possible. My landline exists because of her. If my phone rings, you can guarantee it’s because Nana is calling. Our little one yells, “Nana!” when he hears it ringing, because even he knows that she’s the only person on the face of the planet who refuses to communicate with a cell phone: that includes refusing to call mine from her landline. Ugh!
I embraced Facebook five years ago, and I haven’t looked back. What started as a means for sharing our older son’s very first pictures with long-distance friends and family has become a daily routine of status updates, photo uploads, shares, comments, and likes. I find recipes and warnings and articles and videos – well, everything – on the social media site. These days, I use it for promoting this blog and our small business and for reading as much as I can since I have my freelancing and blogging gigs.
My mother does not “understand” Facebook. She doesn’t know why people have to tell each other where they are and what they are doing and what they are supporting through social media. She doesn’t understand why I “like” things and comment on things from people I don’t even know. She does not want to create an account, does not want to see how it works, and does not want me to spend too much time on it. I don’t know what she’s afraid of, but those are some pretty powerful emotions I encounter whenever I ask her if she wants me to help her get started with Facebook.
This is the area where my grandmother and mom agree the most in their reaction and their resistance to the things of my generation. When I talk with one of them about Facebook, I might as well move into the other room and talk with the other one, because they have the same reasons for disliking Facebook and refusing to make a profile.
In the frustrating end, I love my mom and grandmother with all my heart. But, it seems as though lately our generational gap is making it harder to communicate and see eye-to-eye. I probably can live without getting them to come around to Facebook. But, I will not give up my steam mop or give in to ironing all of our clothes. So, I guess we will just continue to mutter, “What the Hell?”
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