I'm going to be away from the blog this week, taking some time to spend with my husband while the kids are gone with their grandmother on a trip. We have been looking forward to this and I won't lie to you, or my kids. They know we love them, but they also know we loved each other first and will be together after they head off into the wild blue yonder to start their own lives. So we don't apologize for sending them off with grandma. We miss them, sure. But we also miss each other in those times they're all around and we don't get a moment alone!
So here's something to think about while I'm gone, something I thought of after a short little conversation with my next door neighbor in the strip of grass where our two yards meet. He gives us barbecue he makes in his smoker. I send him and his wife treats when I bake. It's a good trade and somehow balances out. He knows all the kids' names and gets a kick out of our little dog. And a lot of times he sits on his back porch and watches me come and go, schlepping kids hither and yon. And sometimes I wonder what he thinks about the goings-on at our house.
And I thought of this the other day after our he and I talked, how in some ways, though we don't know each other very well, he's one of the best judges of what's really going on at our house. Close enough to keep track of the time we spend at home, to hear the words exchanged, to see whether we are taking care of our kids or abdicating our responsibilities as parents, to see whether we actually do load them up and get them to church or we really do grill out and sit down to eat as a family. The neighbors, even if we don't talk to them all the time, know a lot more than we think. The neighbors might just know us better than anyone because they see the day-to-day, not the gussied up, best-foot-forward part we show people.
As I thought about this I started wondering what my neighbor would say about me if he was asked? Would he say I was a good mother? That we had a good marriage? That our kids were happy and loved and valued? That our family was functional? I think we think of that phrase "What would the neighbors say?" with a judgmental, "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality. But in some ways it's actually a good gauge of who we really are. If someone had a front row seat to your life would they find it matched up to your Facebook profile? Your tweets? Your posts? If someone asked your neighbor what kind of person you are, what would your neighbor say? It's a good question to ask yourself from time to time, and a good barometer of the life you're really living versus the life you wish you had. As I've been thinking about all this I've decided that I hope that what the neighbors would say would be just what I'd say about myself.