Mr. Rogers Does Not Live HereBeth Anne Ballance
When my husband and I purchased our first home five years ago, we dreamed of the pitter-patter of little feet across the floor, of Christmas morning by the fire and a swing set in the backyard. We pictured neighborhood parades and playdates and cookouts with the neighbors, of birthday parties and trick-or-treating.
We got half of our dream, thanks to a small boy with a penchant for sliding.
Sadly, not so much on the neighbors. I was shocked when we first moved in that nobody came to ‘welcome” us to the neighborhood. Maybe it’s the old fashioned Southern upbringing in me, but I thought it was custom to bring the new neighbors a pie and introduction within the first week of spying a moving truck. Instead, after four months, I finally walked across the street and introduced myself.
“Oh, you don’t have children?” they asked. I shrugged and said not yet, but we were going to build a family in our new little house. Over the next year, we watched those neighbors host events with children in mind and nary an invitation arrived in our mailbox. (Swear to it, one day we drove by and they said that our invitation must have been lost. Lost? In the 50 feet from door to door? Okay, then.)
So we made nice with neighbors to the left of us — they’re a couple with no children who work odd hours, but we exchange treats at the holidays & they brought us a loaf of bread when Harrison was born.
But then I got pregnant and the neighbors saw me waddle around with a basketball belly under my shirt. Lo and behold, an invitation graced my mailbox — a baby shower! Not for me, but for a neighbor! I only knew one person, but wrapped up a box of diapers. I was determined to meet fellow moms in the neighborhood, dreaming of playdates to come. During the shower, the mother-to-be opened a set of breast pads and the girl teased me that I should be paying attention. Unfortunately, I had not yet been groomed in the ways of motherhood graces, so I smiled and stated that I did not plan to nurse. “Why?” one lady asked. I explained that I had a breast reduction and that I would be returning to work, so it was a decision my husband and I made together. “You’re going back to work?” another asked. I think I heard a pin drop in the room after that.
It didn’t help that I now felt like the black sheep in the pasture, but then once my son was born and I returned to the office, I realized quickly that my ability to socialize with fellow moms was restricted far more than I imagined.
Two months later, my husband almost fell off the roof putting up Christmas lights and yelled a very naughty four-letter word…with a neighbor’s children playing across the street.
I think that nailed the coffin even further. We haven’t even had the courtesy of a “lost” invitation since.
I don’t think our neighbors are mean people. I think we just all got off on the wrong foot and I’m not sure how to change that five years later. I am hoping that once our home sells, we will get another shot at a family neighborhood where parents walk in the evenings with their dogs and children, with neighborhood pool swim meats and cookouts. They do still exist, don’t they?