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The Mom is under the rather unusual delusion that there was some point in time when her house looked exactly as it does in her head. Since I’m not privy to the inner workings of her imagination, I can only surmise that it must look like some kind of amalgamation of all the Good Housekeeping and Mordern Home-type magazines she reads.

You know, beautiful vases of flowers on every surface, artfully arranged, with pristine white furniture, top of the line appliances, gleaming marble countertops in the kitchen, an expensive bottle of wine and some crystal glasses on the table from which to drink said wine, beds covered in throw pillows, sunlight beaming through windows so clean one could eat off them.

In reality, this day has never happened.

And yet The Mom persists in her strange and unattainable fantasy. I suppose it’s not unlike when women look at fashion magazines and picture themselves looking exactly like the model does. Or, rather, judging themselves to be wholly inadequate because they bear no resemblance to the picture (never mind that the model doesn’t either, witness this month’s Vogue magazine, now I know Kate Winslet is gorgeous, but the face on the cover does not look human).

The first thing The Mom does whenever I arrive home is throw her hands up in the air and say, “The place is a shit sty, welcome home!”

The house will in no way be a shit sty, rather it will look like a place where people and pets live. There will be bird gravel and birdseed under foot, sheets covering the white couches (why the woman ever decided on white couches with three children with a tendancy to spill things like coffee and red wine, will forever remain a mystery), and all the necessities that come with having a variety of dogs, in various states of filth, traipse through her house.

When I’m home, there will also be swimming towels draped over the top bannister. Hers is not the only house where this happens. Though, I suppose it’s mostly at cottages where it’s endemic, but you take the point. Swimming towels are meant to hang around.

There always comes a point in time, normally before people who don’t normally hang out at the house come over, where The Mom goes into some kind of a fugue-like state, and runs around, flapping her hands at anything that’s not where it’s meant to be.

“Put this shit away!” she’ll cry.

“People will think we live like pigs!”

This is not the time to point out that we do, but we’re quite happy and unashamed, and that everybody else does too.

There’s a meme thing on Facebook that surfaces every now and again, about how women can judge the quality of their friendships. How close they are to their friends. It says something to the effect that if you’re properly close, as in move a body close, you’ll get invited over and the hostess will still be in her pjs, with unwahsed hair, there’ll be nothing to eat or drink in the house, so you’d best bring your own wine or coffee or cake, and that the house, in general, will look like some kind of home-invasion has just taken place. But the woman who is smiling happily, and pushing a dog or child out of the way with her slipper-clad foot will be the truest of true friends.

This is how I like to think of The Mom’s house. I feel that if, one day, she attained the level of perfection she aspires to, that people would stop coming round. Our house was quite the popular hang out during high school because people felt comfortable. It’s the worn in jeans, old sweater kind of house. The one you always take to when nothing else is right.

And, what with the towels and laundry everywhere, nobody notices if you do a load of your own washing whilst you’re over.