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Monday, July 15, 2013

What Would The Neighbors Say?


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.
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7 comments:

.....Elizabeth..... Polka Dot Skies said...

Such a thought-provoking post! I love it! Have a great time with your hubby!

Pam Cason said...

What an interesting perspective and oh so true. Our neighbors probably are the ones who see the "real" us day in and day out.

And, yes, do enjoy that sweet time alone with your hubby. I'm hoping to get that time with mine for our anniversary coming up. And that's something to celebrate!

Anita said...

When we moved in here there was an elderly couple across the street. Mr.Sam knew everything that happened on the block, and he knew our comings and goings from his front porch swing. He knew we went to the hospital in the middle of the night to deliver our son, he knew most things and we also traded foods made,especially after his beloved Sarah passed away. I don't know most of our neighbors as well. We now miss Mr. Sam. I think the neighbors and the mail man would say we get a lot of packages/books!! Everyone knows the girls are away in college, and they did notice when Nick got his learners permit. Hmmm this was good for thought!!

Marybeth Whalen said...

Thanks Pam and Anita and Elizabeth! This is one of those posts I ruminated on for awhile before writing it. Still thinking about it actually...

Anonymous said...

I am really glad I came across your blog. I really enjoyed reading this. It makes em stop and think, what do people really think of me? Would they say good about me to others? This is defintely something to ponder and be better at.
I think all married couples need time away from the kids. My boys (18 & 16) have been giving us time to ourselves since they got older and I have really enjoyed it. It is good to have some love time together.

Stephanie said...

Enjoy your time away! I once spent some time wondering what my reality show would look like. Uncensored. With cameras on non-stop. Because the truth is that God sees it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly! Thanks for sharing!

Rachel Olsen said...

Good post - I missed it the first time around and read it from your year-end round up.

I'm tracking with you. Course, if you live on a big enough lot, with enough space and trees, even your neighbors can't see the goings on at your house. But as Stephanie commented above, God sees it all. Plus, He looks at your heart.