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Laura on Life

Don't Judge Me
By Laura Snyder
Jun 19, 2012 - 4:56:21 AM

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The old cliche warns us not to judge a book by its cover. I would like to go one step further and say that you can't judge a parent by their house.

Did you ever see those houses that have weed-free, perfectly manicured lawns, trimmed hedges and not a single tree growing out of their gutters? Most people will look at those houses and think "Wow, those people are really good landscapers!"

I think, "Wow, those poor people must not have any kids!" This may or may not be true, but if they have kids, how do they have time for all that?

For some people gardening is their hobby. They enjoy it. Therefore, whenever they have some "me time," they go weed the pansies or edge-trim their driveway. Most parents will tell you that "me time" is rare, but necessary. When I have "me time," I read a book or do a crossword puzzle.

As a result, my yard looks generally unkempt, like a teenager in need of a haircut. However, all my teenagers' hairs are well-trimmed.

I have not tested this theory, because I'm afraid that I will once again find myself deficient. But, if my kids' hair is well taken care of, does this mean that the gardeners' kids look like hippies? If this is true it would certainly excuse my complete lack of landscaping skills. Who cares about your lawn as long as you are raising your kids well? Right?

Knock on wood, my kids seem to be in pretty good shape. But my house, inside and out, will never win any awards.

My hummingbird feeder has been empty for three months, but at least my kids are well fed. I have closets that hold clothes that have not been worn in a decade, but my kids have never gone naked (at least, not by any decision on my part).

There are cobwebs in every corner of my house, but I have attended every tournament, recital, lesson, or event that involved my kids. There is dust on every exposed surface of my house, but my kids... well, they don't have any dust on their exposed surfaces.

In modern times, even with all the technology that is supposed to help us, busy moms and dads must prioritize. All the experts say you must make time for your spouse, your kids, and yourself (which may, by happy coincidence, include planting perennials). You are not going to have time for everything and you can't beat yourself up over it.

If you can somehow morph spouse-time into yard work - which I will add, is not conducive to romantic feelings - that would be great. If not, yard work will have to wait.

If you can convince your kids that dusting and cobweb destruction is way more exciting than a stupid old soccer game, than chances are, you have some defective kids.

The point is, when you pass my house and see dandelions in the lawn, Frisbees on the roof and hedges that have taken over my bird bath... don't judge me. My job description is "mommy."

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at Or visit her website for more info.

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