When they say that having a child changes everything, it turns out they mean everything. Not just the obvious stuff—your priorities, your sleep schedule—but also unexpected things, including the way you relate to the people across the street.
With that in mind, I’ve made you a list of the thoughts I have whenever I see you getting your mail or mowing your grass—things I think but will probably never say due to the fact that there’s a 30-lb toddler hanging off my arm and bits of Play Doh stuck in my hair.
- I’m sorry I ruined your beautiful view with the gigantic swing set I put in the backyard. But I’m really not sorry because I can’t get enough of the joy on my son’s face when he flies down that sliding board—not to mention the exhaustion he feels from scaling the climbing wall fourteen times in a row. Who knew having a play set would help everyone sleep better? I personally think it’s worth losing your backyard view, and hope you agree.
- I know I haven’t been very neighborly since that whole giving birth thing happened. Mr. Rogers would be ashamed, I’m sure. But I promise I haven’t permanently replaced my friendly smile with a frustrated scowl or my leisurely chats with rushed hellos and goodbyes. It’s just that I usually see you first thing in the morning or at the end of a long workday—neither of which are my best times.
- You probably heard that hair-raising scream at 8:00am yesterday, and might be wondering the cause. It was because I said my two-year-old couldn’t have cookies for breakfast. How dare I?
- I see how carefully you pull in and out of your driveway since my little one started running around, always double-checking to make sure he didn’t scurry towards your tires. I appreciate that extra care more than you know!
- Every time you tell me how cute, sweet, and well behaved you find my boy, I smile politely, say thank you, and move on with my day. So you might think your compliment went in one ear and out the other. Trust me, it didn’t. Your thoughtful comments have given me sustenance when I was starving, energy when I was dragging, and encouragement when I was defeated—and for that I am always grateful.
When I see you, I often think of the line in Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” that reads, “Good fences make good neighbors.” I beg to differ. Good people make good neighbors, and you’re one of the best.
Your [crazy, busy, totally flawed but also really genuine] neighbor
p.s. I promise I won’t ask you to feed my cats during our next family vacation!
Katie Markey McLaughlin, M.S. is a freelance journalist and blogger, plus mama to a very energetic toddler. Read more of her mama ramblings at Pick Any Two, a parenting site for moms who can do anything, but not everything.