The first time I met my next door neighbor she was young, newly married and expecting her first baby. She had no idea how much she would learn in the coming years. I was a seasoned mom with a teenager, a preschooler and two in-between. I had no idea how much I would learn in the coming years.
I was the first person to meet and hold that baby. The first to hold the next three. We have been friends through painful times of life and times of joy and hope. Through toddler drama, pregnancies, potty training, diaper rash, and tantrums. Through terrifying teenager trials and bittersweet transitions from one stage of motherhood to the next.
She has loved my kids and counseled them as they navigated elementary school and high school and then adult life. She has watched them grow and mature and change with a mom-like love. She has cried with me and for me when my children have gone astray and broken my heart. She has cheered me on as I found my footing after life has knocked me down again and again.
I have loved her kids, hugged them, pushed them on the swing for literally hours, snuggled them as babies and watched them become independent and wonderful little people. I have captured literally thousands of photos of them playing in the yard, jumping on the “frampoline” and being little people from the time they were born. I have sat by my friend as she grieved the loss of her expectations, navigated the journey from a powerful working woman to stay-at-home mom of more and more kids. I have cheered her on as she found her footing after life has knocked her down again and again.
We’ve had backyard barbeques and smores around the fire. Impromptu chats in the yard too numerous to count. Days when I wandered from my house of teen-horrors for a long snuggle with a small person who still loves purely and simply. We have keys to each other’s houses and borrow each other’s tools and eggs (okay, I “borrow” their eggs and butter and flour and paprika and they borrow our tools). Our trampoline is pretty much their trampoline and I put in a swingset to get the kids to come our way (it worked). I wander over with a cocktail and keep her company while she cleans her van, wipes noses and answers 2,000 preschooler questions. Her toddler comes to my house with dandelion bouquets and her kids have all learned to say my name before they could say much at all.
I freaking love them. Having neighbors like that is what life is all about. One day they will move away and a little piece of my heart will go with them. Actually, six little pieces. We will always be friends but there is nothing like having a friend like that living next door. It’s kinda’ the best.