These kooky, friendly faces belong to my next-door neighbors, Myric and Jennifer. They moved in three years ago, around the same time we did. This newly-wed couple found themselves next door to a rockstar Dad, a stay-at-home Mom and two tiny (read: noisy) kids. But they taught me an awful lot about how to actually live out the old saying "love thy neighbor". Here's how they did it:
They were available. When Myric scaled back his work hours, he said "you know, if you ever need help with little things, like getting groceries from the car, just knock". He wasn't saying "use me whenever you need", rather, he gave me a well defined parameter in which I could ask for assistance. And from time-to-time, this came to mind and I did knock. When heavy parcels needed to be posted that day or else, he was there. When a crying toddler froze on the stairs, he was there. Sometimes those tiny pieces of help changed the entire course of my day.
They were forgiving. I wish I could say that my family is an easy family to be neighbors of, but we are not. My husband and I are both musicians. I have two young children (3 and 1), both of whom we have sleep-trained while Myric and Jennifer have lived next door, with a shared wall to where our baby sleeps. They never complained about noise. They were so easy going. It took so much stress out of parenting to know that they weren't waiting to knock on our door and complain.
They were encouraging. Sometimes being a Mom is awesome, but sometimes being a stay-at-home parent is like doing a really complicated job with one hand, without a single co-worker to say "wow! that's great!". But Myric and Jennifer said that. They said it when they complimented my kids' behavior, their cuteness, their temperament. They made me feel like I was doing a good job at home, and it regularly gave me that energy boost I needed to get through the day.
The saddest thing is, Myric and Jennifer moved out last night. After three years of having the best next-door neighbors ever, they've gone to be best next-door neighbors for someone else. Now, while their apartment is vacant, we wait to see who will move in next. Maybe it will be another couple without kids. Or maybe, just maybe, it will be a Mom who I can love, in the way these two have so utterly, wonderfully loved me.
(Image: Myric McBain, used with permission)