Love thy neighbour

Every morning I lie in bed and listen to my neighbours. Not like a stalker you must understand. No, our walls are like paper. I hear my neighbours (on both sides) turning on light switches, plugging things in sockets etc. Sometimes I hear soft muffled conversation or a burst of laughter. After months of lying in my quiet state trying not to move incase l prematurely wake my children, I have even decided that my neighbour to the left (as I lie in bed) has Ikea furniture. Crazy I know to ponder such things but it makes the same ‘schumm’ noise as they open the drawers as mine do so it seems likely.

Now, while I lie there picking up on these tiny details and relishing one of the few moments in the day where both kiddies sleep in sync, it dawns on me the implications of the less than sound proof walls. Not only can I hear their quiet movements, they must be able to hear mine and I would imagine the noise from outside is less than enjoyable. Being a mom you feel guilty about something 24 hours a day. Should I let her eat that? Should I let him watch that? Am I giving them enough stimulation? The list is endless, but this is a new guilt and one I could really do without but it lies there festering until I raise my voice or struggle to calm a hysterical child. It’s the same guilt that I get when one of my little darlings break down in a restaurant and I feel all those childless eyes boring into me. Neighbour guilt as I’ve termed it, occurs when my baby is screaming at 1 am, 3am and 5am and I feel overwhelming guilty knowing that surely my sounds must pass back through to my mouse like neighbours.

It’s 7pm and my toddler is getting irritable and of course the baby wakes to join the fun. Insert “toddler whine” insert “100 forceful, yet useless no’s from me” insert “babies waaa!” I bet at that point my neighbours are really enjoying their dinner and slowly turning up the volume on their tv’s.

Maybe I am over thinking all of this, maybe my walls only permeate sound in one direction and maybe my neighbours don’t hate me. I’d hate me if our roles were reversed and have complained in the past when my own neighbours couldn’t rein in their children. I guess my past judgement has come back to bite me. Karma?

I sometimes wonder if my children have become the topic of tweets or Facebook status’ “kids next door screaming at all hours. AGAIN!” or worse. That’s one thing I’ll never know so I shouldn’t spend too much energy worrying about it. My guilt is at the level now that nothing but a curt ‘hi’ passes from me to them if i ever happen to bump into them outside. I’m pretty sure I can see judgement flicker across their faces but then paranoia is a friend of mine. So I’ll just carry on feeling guilty I guess, I would make a damned good Catholic, I just hope my neighbours will forgive me.

The letter my neighbours are waiting for…

Dear neighbour,

Just a quick note to let you know that as of tomorrow I will be moving out. I am either going to pitch a tent in the middle of a field where my babies can scream to their heart’s content and annoy only the cows, or join some sort of commune, I haven’t decided yet. I have let the house out to a nice quiet couple who have no intention of having children and if they do know they’ll be required to join me in the field.

Many apologies for any discomfort and broken sleep you may have encountered, just know it wasn’t a picnic for me either.

Your neighbour.


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