Generational Gap Differences – What the Hell?

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.

Scrubbing Floors

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.

Cell Phones

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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Where Does It All Come From? – What the Hell?

Trying to clean the house with these boys in it is like trying to keep an ice cream cone from melting in 95-degree weather.  You get so close to keeping it all cleaned up, but then you turn around and there’s a mess in three different places.  At least with the ice cream cone, you get a sweet treat and feel at least a little satisfaction.  With cleaning, you just feel like you should go bang your head off the wall for fifteen minutes because it would be more productive.

The one place that always seems to have dirt is the entryway.  I have a very nice, handmade rug there for little hineys to sit on and be comfortable while putting shoes on and off, and secretly that rug was supposed to keep the dirt in one central location.  You put your shoes on while on the rug, and you take your shoes off while on the rug.  How hard is that?  But then one realized that he doesn’t have his iPad.  And then the other realized that he doesn’t have his Thomas.  And the first one realized that he still has his shoes on while trying to find the iPad, so he kicks them off where he’s standing; I swear that makes more of a mess than keeping them on while on the great iPad hunt because he slams them down once they’re off, which forces all of the dirt and grime and boy-stuff out onto the floor, rather than just having quick footprints from Point A to Point B.  And then the second one realized that it makes lot of noise when you slam your shoes down on the floor, so he does it too.  As hard as he can.  A dozen times.  AAAAHHHHH!

Another place that always seems to be filthy is the refrigerator door handles.  The little one can barely get the door open, and he has this nifty trick of grabbing the handle with his left hand, putting his right hand dangerously near the hinges, and sort of swinging until he gets the fridge open.  This means there is a trail of handprints left behind because he “slid” down the handle, PLUS two foot marks on the lower freezer door because that’s his ending point.  Similarly, the big one opens the fridge whenever he wants something, which is almost always, and he seems to have to grab the handle five times until he finds just the right spot to hold on and get the fridge to open.  That’s five sets of handprints for every one time of opening the door.  That’s not good math if you’re me.

And then there’s the front of the dishwasher and the floor around it.  I’m pretty sure that if you are my child, you had to agree to the condition that you cannot put down your plate or cup or flatware until AFTER you’ve already opened the dishwasher.  So, anything on said plate, cup, or flatware now is being fashionably worn by the front of the dishwasher and the floor.  Oh, and there’s a good chance that you then step in the mess on the floor and continue walking to whatever your destination was in the first place, so there is a trail of sticky or wet footprints from the kitchen to somewhere in the house.  Thank you, dear children, for making me so lucky that I get to play treasure hunt every day for the offending feet.

Oh, and who could forget the actual toys themselves?  If we have a toy that isn’t covered in milk, Silk, juice, or what-is-this-curiously-sticky-substance-that-smells-like-old-socks-and-is-the-color-of-tar, I’d be totally shocked.

My favorite dirty spots are the windows.  You can tell which child is the culprit, of course, judging from the height of the finger art.  They don’t just use their fingers and hands, either.  Sometimes I get lip prints and nose prints and face prints.  Oftentimes, I get trails of Cheerio-covered fingerprints the entire length of the window.  They’re sticky and a little too greasy for being caused by a boy and his Cheerios, and when they’re really fun, they have tiny grains of the Cheerios stuck in them, for extra scrubbing power pleasure.

I love our boys, and I still wouldn’t trade them for the princess-following, everything-pink girls that so many of our friends have.  They just mess up our home and make my cleaning job infinitely harder than it needs to be.  I don’t know where all of the dirt and grime associated with them comes from, but I can tell you that every time that I clean, I find myself saying repeatedly and with gusto, “What the Hell?”

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Cleaning Day – What the Hell?

I’ll admit that I don’t do heavy-duty housecleaning as often as I should, but we do the weekly routine of light dusting and vacuuming and steam-mopping pretty well. I keep up with the laundry and dishes because there is no alternative, and I clean the kitchen counters and table several times a day. The Department of Health and Children and Youth haven’t been here yet, so things must be acceptable… or at least clean enough.

Today was one of those days that I set aside for heavy-duty cleaning. I have been dreading it for weeks. I know that I’m going to be stuck inside cleaning while everyone else is out having a day date or playing in the backyard or doing anything other than helping me clean; and, I absolutely think that they should be since the boys are so little. It just leaves me with a lot of the work. And a lot of time to complain about the work while I’m doing it, so it’s a good thing little ears are not here to hear me.

I had planned on cleaning our whole first floor – kitchen, playroom, den, walkways, dining area, and laundry room – today. I started by putting away the 900 million Thomas the Tank Engine parts and all of his friends’ parts and asking the boys to put back any toys they got out during the day, and five minutes later the toys I had just cleaned up were everywhere. On the floor. On the couch. On the end tables. Ugh! By lunch, there were more toys out than I thought we owned. I only had sat down to eat breakfast, and I had been picking up and organizing for four hours, but there was the tornado of toys yet again. What the Hell!

Part of my heavy-duty cleaning days consists of sorting toys into “Keep” and “Yard Sale” piles. All of the toys that I recognize from some form of a kid’s meal immediately get tossed into the trash, if I haven’t seen someone playing with them within the past day. It’s important to note that I never broadcast my heavy-duty cleaning days ahead of time to our five year old because I know that he has caught on to my toy-trashing plan and will sit and play with all of the toys that still faintly smell like nuggets or fries because he wants me to think that he still likes them and wants to keep them. He doesn’t even know where they are until I find them and sort them, but he wants them, by God!

Similarly, all of the not-from-a-fast-food-joint toys that I know nobody has touched in the past few weeks get put into the Yard Sale pile, and again, the phenomenon of “Keep that. I love that. I play with it all the time” starts up in full force. My favorite memory of this is the following…

Me: I haven’t seen you play with this. What is it?

Five Year Old: I don’t know and I don’t think I have all of the pieces.

Me: Let’s throw it away, then, if it’ missing parts.

Five Year Old: But I want it. We’ll find them. It’s SO fun.

Me: You don’t even know what it is!

Five Year Old: But I know it’s fun. I can tell.

After a day full of finding all of the parts to toys and putting them together and figuring out which ones to keep, putting them in the appropriate toy bins, and gluing those that we are keeping but need a little TLC first, I had two minutes to dust, wash windows, vacuum, move furniture, clean curtains and blinds, and put out the Fourth of July decorations. I got one room totally done today. ONE! What the Hell?

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