Dear Amy:Last year I became friends with a woman at work who, like me, was pregnant. We hung out a few times, and when I visited her house, I was shocked. Amy, I am not a neat freak, but I have never been anywhere so filthy.
Her house was like an episode of “Hoarders.” Every surface — even the stairs — was covered in random papers, trash, dirty dishes, clothes, boxes, recycling and so forth. In many rooms, the trash was 2 feet deep and covered the entire floor. You had to wade through it. I said nothing.
Since then, we have both had our babies, and she has been asking to get together. She brought her baby to my house once, but now she is insistent that we must come to her.
She has called me five times in six days asking when we will come over, each time becoming more insistent.
Amy, I do not want to bring my daughter there because I believe it is a health hazard. I have suggested that we meet at places like the library, but she keeps asking us to come over. I don’t know how to tell her that I cannot bring my infant daughter over to play in a trash heap. I also wonder if I should call Child Protective Services because this environment is also dangerous for her baby.
How would you suggest I deal with this?
— Not a Neat Freak
Dear Not:I wonder if this other mom is so insistent on having you over because she has cleaned up her home.
You can only find out by going. Choose a day when the weather is fine and you can keep the babies outside if necessary. If her house is merely messy (even very messy), don’t worry about it. If it is still a trash heap like before and very obviously a physical and biohazard, you should call CPS and ask for guidance.
Reporting a parent to Child Protective Services is a decision not to be taken lightly. Be prepared to answer questions with detailed descriptions of the hazard. If in your considered judgment this is a dangerous environment for the child, you should place the call. The household could be offered support services to maintain a healthier home.