I used to be a really social person. I used to organize gatherings and have parties and hang out at cafes talking with various friends. It all seems like a million years ago but I do remember a time I sought out people and enjoyed the fruits of their company.
This all changed after having my son. It isn't like I went from having friends to not, it was more like I was so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of parenthood and the swift kick in the pants it means to not have any freedom because there is this tiny person depending on you. I just didn't have time anymore, nor did I know how to navigate the social world I had known with this baby in tow.
I managed somewhat thanks to all the friendships I had developed prior to LM rocking my world but then we moved cross country and I had to start anew.
We have lived in MA now for almost 6 years (Whhhhhatt?? How did that time go by so fast?). In the past couple of years I have hit my stride in developing closer friendships here. It took a while because I was different. I wasn't the social butterfly of my past self, I was an overwhelmed mom with issues and I found it harder to put myself out there and to do the work of being social. Talk on the phone? Yuck! Have people over? My house is always a mess and what will I feed them? Then there is the fact that we still live in a smallish rental apartment when 90% of people we know have large nice homes. I sometimes am self conscious with people who haven't come over yet.
Plus, I don't necessarily feel the gift of the gab anymore. I am happy that I have managed to make the few close girlfriends that I have now, even though I still feel like I can't open up to them the way I can still talk to some of my close friends from CA.
Anyway, where this is going is that it recently dawned on me that we are really bad neighbors.
We live on a smallish street and when we first moved here, we were so excited by all the families with small kids that we helped organize a first block party. We would hang out on the lawns with other neighbors and watch the kids play. We even had the family next door over for dinner and B spent a huge amount of time and a small fortune making a goat cheese cake with toasted pine nut crust for dessert.
We also got invited to the annual spring tea party and Christmas open house of a very old woman who has lived here for over 60 years and who still walks her dog around every day.
We don't get invited any more (we see the encelopes slipped through our mail slot for our upstairs neighbor only) and the summer outings have dried up because half the families with kids moved. We could invite the family next door over, but we just haven't.
We just don't put in the effort anymore. Between working full time and parenting and trying to slip in things like physical health and cleaning the house and helping with homework, there just never seems like time to keep up these relationships.
And so it came to be that one recent winter weekend afternoon I took the kids outside our house to let them blow off some steam and play in the snow. My upstairs neighbor came out with her daughter and we talked some. I learned that the teenage son of the family next door (the ones we had to dinner) was in the hospital having brain surgery and that the old man who lives across the way had died....3 months ago. I knew none of this.
I did get in contact with the neighbor, it was a cyst on the brain and their son is doing fine, back home even. When he first came home I knew it because I saw people live park their cars carrying casseroles and plates of food.
And so we determined, "This is what we will do! We will make cookies!"
Here is a little peek into how things work around here. Our intentions were very good. Our execution, horrible.
He came from from the hospital Tuesday night. B went to the store to buy ingredients Tuesday night with the intention to make cookies Wednesday night. Wednesday night we discovered we forgot brown sugar, off to the store. Thursday night he made the cookies but the recipe he chose to make (that involved things like melted caramels, etc) spread out too thin as it baked and 1/2 burnt and in the end we had maybe 10 good looking cookies.
Friday, nothing - we forgot to make more things or bring over the few good looking cookies.
So now the kid has been home for a while and we still haven't done anything (that they know of). I am going to make some bar cookies this morning and carry them over late afternoon after having the kids make a get well card.
This year I resolve to be more social and to be a better neighbor. I am starting by trying to accept more invitations (going to a high tea birthday party today for a work friend!) and to make some invitations of my own. It is time to get out my old social queen hat, dust it off and see if it still works.
It is really hard trying to balance work/kids/exercise and the fact that most nights I want to fall asleep by 9:30pm with anything else but I have to try.
I don't want to be the bad neighbor anymore.