Our next door neighbors are a group of young guys I call Jeep, Man-Bun, and 3 a.m. Loud Laugher. We live in a tall, skinny town house, so when these guys are having a late night karaoke jam sesh, it sounds like it’s happening in our bedroom.
But, I really like these guys. I seriously mean that.
The other night, Brandon and I woke up at 3 a.m. to the sound of, I think it was Jeep, BELTING “Kryptonite” and playing clanky guitar. “If I go crazaaay than will you still call me Superman…” I smiled at Brandon and said what I always say when they wake us up, “I like those guys” and “I love that song.”
Their noises don’t bother me. They are nice. They’re always having fun and in my heart, I still feel like the carefree twenty-something who would totally be sitting on a porch at 2 a.m. belting 90’s songs if I weren’t instead singing that one line of “Wheels on the Bus” maniacally because it’s the only line of any song that will keep my 10-month-old on her back long enough for me to change her diaper without her crawl-running/power-rolling away.
As much as I like our neighbors from what I hear of their patio parties, my only actual interaction with them is an occasional “Hi!” when we’re in our driveways at the same time.
So, here’s the question I keep asking myself: Why aren’t I more neighborly?
Well, because to Man-Bun and most other category of person I see out and about, I’m a MOM.
I used to be what my English teacher called (with an overdone eye-roll accompanying it) a “High I.” An extrovert. But, becoming a mother has changed me, or at least put me in this weird limbo. I used to love talking to people. All people. But now, I feel like my frenzy of tiny humans makes me a burden to be around for most people, so I shy away where I used to be friendly.
In our small group the other night, we were talking about how we interact with “outsiders” – people in our neighborhoods, strangers, and the rest of the world. And I was sitting there trying to figure myself out. I don’t withhold friendliness because I dislike my neighbors. I’m not afraid of them. I just feel like, how on earth do I go up to anyone who doesn’t have young children with them right that second and invite them into my world?
Boiling it down, this is part of my much larger issue – fear of disappointing people. I can’t really think of any actual harm that would come from inviting Man-Bun and his posse to play their 90’s songs in my living room with my family. I guess the worst thing that could happen would be that our bi-weekly “Hi” would become something more distant, like an awkward look-away.
The point is, I think I’m missing out. I’m missing out on new community. I’m missing out on opportunities to do one of the main things God put me on this earth to do – love people. All because I’m afraid that people might feel uncomfortable around me because I have kids. Maybe they will. But maybe they won’t. Maybe Brandon and I have something to offer those guys – like our source of hope. And maybe they have something to offer us – like an opportunity to karaoke the crap out of “Kryptonite.”