Life Out Loud: Who cares what ‘they’ think?

People are insufferable. Oh, not taken singularly, of course. One-on-one people are lovely. It’s when they go plural you have problems.

If there are any two things that can ruin just about any good time it is “people” and “they.”

No one is quite sure who “they” are but “they” are very judgmental. “They” also have “people.”

You start worrying about what “people” think and before you know it, “they” run your life.

Trash talk

I have spent years terrorizing my family in my aim to have our home actually appear as if no one lived here at all. I was certain that “they” were coming any minute.

Worse, “they” were going to be TICKED if everything wasn’t white glove perfect. What if “people” thought we were trashy?

Speaking of trashy, “they” can be real buzz kills when it comes to outdoor tasks. I can’t tell you the times we spent the weekend working dawn to dusk in the yard. We mulched and fussed and trimmed and weeded because “they” had set the bar so high.

The yard had to look manicured or “people” might talk.

Granted, some of us benefit from being endlessly concerned with the opinions of others.
We have the dog groomed, trimmed, and spritzed with vanilla to prevent “people” thinking we don’t care for our pets.

Fear mongering

“They” can be real speed bumps on the technological superhighway too. “They” are currently keeping a lot of people from enjoying the warmth and beauty of social networking with family and friends online for fear that someone will steal their identity or their soul.

Social networking isn’t just a great way to trade vowel-free words with friends: “BRB LOL K?” — it’s a great way to connect with the daily lives of loved ones too.

Don’t let “people” scare you off. “They” are the death of convenience, too.

I swear if one more person tells me that they refuse to pay bills online because “people” say that it’s dangerous, I’ll just cry.

“They” never seem to bother to point out that every time you write a personal check you give out your full name, address and account number anyway. Suffice to say that I have spent my entire adult life dedicating an awful lot of my time and attention to making sure everything around us was orderly and at least as close to perfection as I could reasonably fret about so that “they” wouldn’t judge me.

So that “people” wouldn’t think less of us.

Five

Then my son turned 13 last year. That was quite an eye opener. Age 13 to 18 is five years. Five short years. Five years — and we don’t even know for certain how many of those five he’ll really want to spend with US.

We have five years to really embrace and enjoy our firstborn’s front-row presence in our home. This was the year it all really clicked.

We have five short years of weekend family camping, soccer games (and practice), of “watch this mom!” and “Dad can we?”

It’s wonderful — and a real point of pride — to keep a tidy home, a well-maintained yard and an orderly life.

The sweet-smelling dog is just a bonus, really.

Still, if one spends too much time on the minutiae of daily life and not enough on the big picture, all might be lost. Five years is nothing. A blur. A blink.

I’m going to admit it in print right now: I don’t intend to spend the next five years worrying what “people” might think of my lawn.

Fun

This summer we met our commitments but let our self-imposed standards slip just a bit.

When choosing between toil and travel — we traveled. When choosing between fanatical lawn care and fishing — we fished. When choosing between cleaning and camping — we chose the camping every time. We swam. We traveled. We hiked, biked and picnicked.

We had handfuls of friends over for backyard campouts (and yes, the grass was a tad too long).

We met our commitments and obligations, of course, but we dropped any non-necessary commitment in a heartbeat if it meant more time to spend with family. This was the summer we gave up worrying what “people” might think.

The grass grew shaggy — and nobody died. Our friends still came to stay and play, and “they” never said a negative word about our housekeeping.

As we enter another season, I hope to look back in six months and say the same. We lived. We loved. We had a less than perfect lawn, home and standards — and lived to survive — and thrive.

My advice? Meet your obligations and commitments but don’t let them rule your life. Breathe, embrace, enjoy your life — and loves.

“They” say “people” really like that too.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt lives to love a shaggy dog — and lawn. She welcomes comments c/o LifeOutLoud@Comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; or www.KymberlyFosterSeabolt.com.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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