High Expectations

Yesterday, as I waited for Little Brother’s coach to arrive at soccer practice, a mom whose son is new to the team parked next to me. We chatted a little about the schedule for the first game and when our boys would be starting school.

When I mentioned that Little Brother attends Catholic school, she commented that she’d grown up next door to one of the teachers from an area Catholic school that closed 7 years ago.

“Even though she was Catholic, she really wasn’t friendly at all,” this mom said of her former neighbor.

I don’t think this mom meant her comment as a slight toward Catholics. On the contrary:  the implication was that Catholics should live by high standards when it comes to how we treat others. Since the mom I met last night had such high expectations of Catholics, this probably means that most of the Catholics she has encountered do live by these ideals. At least, I hope so!

  • Are we welcoming and helpful to newcomers?
  • Do we anticipate the needs of others?
  • Do we show concern for others?

We don’t have to be the most outgoing people in the world to evangelize by treating our neighbors as we would want to be treated.

Finding Some Silence

Being an introvert, I need some quiet time on a regular basis to recharge my batteries.  My kids don’t know from quiet.  My younger two are so extroverted that they practically have others orbiting them on a regular basis.  Little Brother, in particular, needs near-constant company.  And when his friends are here and it’s quiet, that’s usually not a good thing either.

Between the radio (loud enough to be heard throughout the house), the TV (at a competing decibel level) and the general kid chatter–or bickering–I feel like I’m being assaulted by noise constantly.

I’m not getting to daily Mass like I’d like to (and like I do on average of 4 days a week during the school year), and that doesn’t help.  It’s hard to listen to my favorite radio show, The Catholics Next Door, because I don’t want to add one more sound source to the sensory overload I’m experiencing.  It’s like the lyrics from that Harry Nilsson song, “Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me.”

And when everyone’s outside, I relish the silence for as long as I can get it.

At Catholicmom.com, Sarah Reinhard brought up the topic of summer parenting.  I mentioned in the comments that with my desk in the middle of the house, in the living room, I run into a lot of sound overload (and a lot of interruptions.)  I’ve been contemplating a way to find some space elsewhere in the house where I can work in quiet.

This afternoon, I got it all figured out and Middle Sister did the heavy moving.  I’ve got a bookcase full of books emptied out all over the bed, so I have to get those put away, but there’s a small desk in my room near a window that has a backyard view.  It’s not going to be my primary work space.  But when things get Just Too Loud here in the heart of my home, it’s good to know that I’ve got a spot where I can (temporarily) retreat.

I can run, but I can’t hide.  I can’t stay up there all day, tempting though it may be.  That won’t do my family any good.  Besides, I’m not so sure I want to be working in the same room where I sleep.  We’ll see how it goes.  If nothing else, I’ll have sorted through all these books–and that’s not a bad thing either.

Opposites Attract…and Clash

TheDad is an extrovert. Holidays bring out the best in him. He’s always ready to invite guests over, or attend one gathering after another. Even on weekends, it drives him crazy to have to stay home.

I’m an introvert. Holidays bring out the worst in me. By the Third Day of Christmas (that would be the second Road Trip out of at least 3) I am ready to lose it, if I haven’t already. And by this point in the year all I want to do is spend a day in my pajamas and Never Leave The House For Any Reason. This morning I was wound up so tight I was ready to burst into tears with no provocation. I had to escape to the supermarket where I could be alone.

TheDad also likes to drop all routine and do something different, whereas I thrive on familiarity–except for furniture arrangement and trying new recipes.

Parties, even family gatherings, can sap my mental strength in a way that even arguing with a four-year-old doesn’t. I feel like it costs me a great deal, some days, to put on a smile and socialize, whether it’s with family members or near-strangers. And parties become something I dread; I almost never look forward to them. Right about now, I’m just plain exhausted–and I look it.

We’ve got 2 more parties and one more visit scheduled in the next four days. After that, people in this house will start going back to school and work, and I will stop feeling like I need to go and hide.