When The Mommy (the M) first walked into my apartment, she gasped “Oh the houses are really small”. Then she proceeded to find the kitchen cabinets too dirty, the sheets unclean and the towels unsavoury. I trailed after her tearing my hair out.

An MSN conversation with my sister allayed my fears a little. Apparently, our cleanliness standards do not match up to The M’s despite the years spent apprenticing under her eagle eye. When mum visited her, she was also critical, I was told.

Curly pointed out that moms are always critical. That’s their job apparently. To lament at how despite our upbringing, we are so useless.

I find it all a little unsettling. Admittedly, I’m a slob. But I never thought of myself as filthy. I make it a point once a week to clean up debris left in my wake and when the mommy came, there was none. I had even vacuumed in the dead of night because I had been out every single evening before she arrived. On weekends, if my helper doesn’t show up, I dust, mop floors etc. Maybe I’m a little loose on the removing everything and wiping surfaces but I do that at some point.

My mistake was in assuming that mommy would be less critical because she was well, my mother. So maybe I didn’t change the sheets and do the sparkling kitchen deal. What I forgot was that gave her the freedom to say exactly what she thought. Which wasn’t exactly flattering. (I have new respect for the in laws who made no such comments despite what they might have inevitably thought. They still managed to make ‘other’ annoying comments though, so they are not completely in the good books yet).

My mom is a stay-at-home and so she has the time and energy to clean every day. Because that, well, is her fulltime job. She claims, however, that she wouldn’t hold me to those exacting standards but that I fall short of even the lowered one. Hmph!

I am also beginning to fear that I am morphing into a loner. I was spiky with V and I was snappy with mom. Yes, there were specific things that got on my nerves but I had also become used to doing my own thing when I came back from work. The stress of daily interactions and adjusting to another person were wearing me down.

Because living alone does make you selfish. You do things your way – whether it’s leaving the dishes unwashed overnight or letting the contents of your handbag vegetate on the coffee table. You sprawl on the couch channel surfing and reading a book, and yes, talking to yourself (ok I sometimes do this even when I have company). You get into a routine and though it may not be as fun as the one you had earlier, you get into it.

I am, it is obvious, a creature of habit. Nobody moves my cheese. But being alone allows you to do that. Because if you don’t put one foot in front of the other in exactly the same way, then how will you go on. Feet all over the place will get you thinking about, hey, what it might be like to have someone else around to tango with.

When single people talk about liking their space, I now know what they mean. Or rather, I’ve rediscovered what they mean. You get comfortable not with space but with a routine. I have to say though, once I break into the mess of company, I’m happier there. It took a bit of getting used to, but I’m happier with mommy in the bed with me than noone.