Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Neighbors: Then, Now, And Motherhood is Lonely

My childhood neighbors meant easy-access friends, open doors, warm porches, sheet forts straddling short chain-link fences, and grabbing rights to the kind of soda and snacks never allowed in my own home. There is one neighbor who I cannot remember without picturing the bushes between our houses.

Those bushes were a hiding place for us, our treasures, a time capsule, a fortress, and a refuge from the world of his abusive parents, although I didn’t realize that for many years, and not until long after he’d moved away. I can still smell those bushes and feel the light pressure of rubbing a Juniper Berry between my thumb and finger, leaving them both blue.  Those bushes were a place of exploration, whispered secrets, elaborate plans of how we’d run away to California, and my first real love and six-year-old kiss.

Back then, neighbors meant tribe. A place to go when my own backyard was too boring, too used, and too lonely. Neighbor kids were the ones who taught me what the F-word was, that you get pregnant when a boy touches your belly button with his penis, and that if you eat Pop Rocks and drink a soda, your stomach will explode until you die.

YOUTH THEN: Eat pop rocks and drink soda and your stomach explodes until you die.

In the 70’s and 80’s, we met, unsupervised, at the school parking lot to greet the dares and the cheers of riding down the scary-steep hill hands-free on our bicycles, and of climbing up to the school roof using nothing but a well-placed dumpster and a boost-up. Neighbors meant community. Inclusion.

They were the people that always showed up for a game of spotlight before dusk, even when they didn’t acknowledge you at school the next day because you were too young and maybe too uncool to be cool.

Short chain link fence in the 70s and 80s

I miss those neighbors, although I don’t remember all of their names. Today, my neighbors, or maybe it’s my neighborhood, are different from those open door, grab a snack, mi casa su casa memories of my youth.

When I was pregnant with my son Tucker, and new to this neighborhood, I was convinced that I’d have the home in which all the kids gathered, that my door would remain unlocked and open, that snacks would be taken unasked for, and that Tucker would usually be here, because this would be the place that his friends wanted to be.  Once he was born, I quit my job, strapped him in his snazzy Baby Bjorn, and trolled. While there were anticipated “OOOH! How old is he? Precious!” comments, kisses on his fine little bald baby head, there were no open doors, or invitations for play.

I didn’t expect that my neighborhood would feel so lonely.

That motherhood would feel so lonely.

With my family and friends far away, and my few local friends either careering and not mothering, or newly mothering but not up the street, my wandering around looking for neighbors and community while wearing Tucker needed expansion. I joined Mommy and Me groups. I joined Soccer Tots. I said hello and I was mostly normal, I think. Still, no neighbors. No open doors. Something was wrong with the picture that I’d had in my head.

I did end up meeting a friend when Tucker was about six months old, at a Mommy and Me event. After wandering my sidewalks for six months, eagerly sniffing for anybody who might relate and welcome me, I was beyond grateful to have found S and her daughter, who was only three months younger than Tucker was. We spent many afternoons and evenings and sweaty walks together. We laughed at our kids’ new abilities, them kissing one another, and their naked butts on a beach towel taken on a girl/kid weekend trip.

Naked Baby Butts

Framed, on my office wall. I have the original somewhere but I am lazy and it’s on the wall in front of me.

At some point, the girl started to do things that my boy wasn’t doing. At first, I wasn’t concerned. The girl started to do more and more, while I was struggling with evaluations and language delays and worry and fear and knowing that life will never be the same while desperately wanting life to just be the same, even if it was lonely.

I was struggling with “Please, just let Tucker be normal, or at least be okay, or at least let him have a friend and not be bullied, and please let him know what love is, and please, if I die, let somebody love him…” I was struggling with the please. The desperation. That lasted for a good while.

We no longer see that friend much; our last playdate lasted about 11 minutes, ending with her daughter crying “I just want to go home” and Tucker having a meltdown because she took his toy.

Still, we lived our normal.

One day, a woman named Leslie came into our home, our hearts, and into Tucker’s brain and abilities. She is a Preschool Autism Classroom teacher here, uses ABA therapy, and I swear- is the reason that Tucker talks. Through her, and that classroom, I found a new neighborhood, even though I cannot walk to most of them. I found a mom tribe of people who understand and accept my little boy. I found friends. I found open doors, even though they mean something very different from what I’d dreamed of, years ago, trolling the neighborhood looking for camaraderie.

Life, and this neighborhood haven’t been normal since. Ever, really.

Except that it has been exactly and perfectly normal.

Families with special needs kids feel normal, by the way. We don’t realize that anything is anything less than thislife, our house, and well, here. One month ago today, I sent my little baby boy – who is no longer a baby boy – to kindergarten. I grieved and I cried and I know now that this passing of the years while the days feel so long is normal for all of us. Special needs or not.

Also, this week, Tucker played with his cousins. He played with Stephanie’s girls. He played. And it was totally normal enough.

And I’ve gotten to know my neighbors a little bit more. I’m now a part of the Bus Stop Mom Crew. Except, I’m not. I want to be, and I don’t want to be. There are the bitches, and the crazies, and the inbetweens. There’s the one nice one, who remembered Tucker’s name…

I’d be lying if I said that I still don’t approach this ‘hood and the bus stop daily, hoping for what I used to think this neighborhood would be like. I’d be lying if I said that it is not a stupid high-school click thing, that the cool moms barely acknowledge me or my son, and I’d also be lying if I said that I was no longer hoping that they will, or that it matters much whether they do.

Because somewhere, in looking for my neighborhood, I found my neighbors.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s hosts are:
Finding Ninee (moi)
and Allison Carter of Go Dansker Mom (guest host as in please show her some extra love)

  • Kelly L McKenzie - Yes, we go looking for the neighbors and we find them. Eventually. It may not be where we thought we would but we find them.

    This topic has leads me to make the follwing apology. Should anyone reading this know Rosemary Breeze, please apologise to her for me for pushing her constantly into the neighborhood hedge oh so many years ago. And for making her sing “Twinkle twinkle little star” over and over in her oh so out of tune voice.October 2, 2014 – 10:12 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kelly, here’s to finding them, wherever they are. Also, poor little Rosemary Breeze!October 3, 2014 – 6:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie @ The Latchkey Mom - Oh Kristi. I remember toddler play dates. I hated them I was constantly comparing the boys to other kids and always coming up short. It was terrible. In our first neighborhood, we met really good friends, but had to leave to get Barrett more help. In the Maryland neighborhood we had no friends – it was a long story. In our last neighborhood, we were the autism family with the kid who always ran away:). And now, well I don’t know what we are, but we’re happy. The bus stop is hard. When Hunter went to school it was just me and one other mom, who I am still friends with today, but our kids never clicked – and that was weird. Kindergarten moms are a bit over the top. They all chill out by 4th or 5th grade, I promise.October 2, 2014 – 10:12 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Allie! Our bus stop is actually K-6. There are a couple of really nice moms there but it’s just not the kind of setup that I’d like to have with kids running around together and all that. Maybe it’s us? That’s very possible… Sometimes I wonder if it’s because so many moms with kids Tucker’s age are so much younger than I am. Anyway, maybe I’ll find that ‘hood one of these days. Or somebody cool could move in next door…October 3, 2014 – 6:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - Mom friendships are such an odd thing. I’ve found that as my kids got older, I chose my friends based on them and not their kids’ friendships with my kids. I like it better that way, and I feel lucky to have some of those friends as neighbors. Oh, and I was never a bus stop mom, but if I had been I would have totally hung with you.October 2, 2014 – 10:22 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Dana! I wish you were at my bus stop. And maybe one of these days, I’ll meet an awesome mom neighbor who likes me and my kid. It could happen! 😉October 3, 2014 – 6:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate (Shakespeare's Mom) - I’m so glad that you were able to find supportive “neighbors” through Tucker’s teacher and his preschool, and as Dana said in her comment, I would totally hang out with you at the bus stop too!
    I’m not sure physical neighborhoods will ever be as open and welcoming as they were in our childhoods, but I’m learning to find neighborhoods in other places, especially through blogging. I haven’t been on top of things enough to participate in FTSF for a while, but it’s nice to be back!October 2, 2014 – 10:50 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks Kate! I’d totally hang with you and Dana any day. I know what you mean about finding neighborhoods through blogging. Maybe because we all share so much of ourselves including the most personal – we “know” each other in a way that is harder to get to with small talk? I’m so glad you’re back at FTSF!!October 3, 2014 – 6:38 pmReplyCancel

  • MyTwice BakedPotato - Hey!! You sound like a kid from my neighborhood 🙂 We used to play kickball in the street, say we were running away and hang out in the woods, or hide out talking in an abandoned tree house making plans for the next school year. I remember those outside years.October 3, 2014 – 2:09 amReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Got to tell your that for the longest time our block here was so very quiet, but now it is reminding me more of that of my childhood and youth with the kids all on the bus, going to school together and playing after school and weekends, too. So, definitely thankful for this now, too 🙂October 3, 2014 – 2:14 amReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - I can so well relate to you and your neighborhood, Kristi. We moved before P was born, and thanks to those friendly faces, I found weekend playdates for him when he had nearly started crawling..

    Life earlier with neighbors is still missed…in my parents days we would go for a bowl of sugar if need be…cant think of now unless they are very very close 😉

    Happy to link up!
    TGIFOctober 3, 2014 – 2:17 amReplyCancel

  • Nicki Gilbert - I love your interpretation and discovery of “neighbors” – so so true and thank goodness, right?!
    Your description of your childhood neighborhoods made me long for similar in my childhood, Kristi. I did not grow up that way at all – South Africa was a weird place in the 70s and 80s :).
    And also, “cool moms” who don’t acknowledge other people are definitely not cool! You’re the cool one, and they are missing out! They’ll find out soon enough ;).October 3, 2014 – 2:55 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Nicki, yes so so true! And I just realized I spelled your name with two “k’s” on your blog – sorry about that. Thanks so much for your sweet comment and for doing FTSF this week. You’re awesome. I loved reading about your childhood in S Africa and then Israel.October 3, 2014 – 6:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Alison - I am lonely. We live in an apartment, and I don’t see my neighbors much, and there’s very little opportunity for interaction. 90% of my friends live around the world. I have a couple of friends I text/ talk to/ see often (until the twins were born), but I still feel lonely.

    If I didn’t have my Internet friends, I would probably die of loneliness.October 3, 2014 – 6:30 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m so sorry that you’re lonely, Alison. I know how you feel and so hope that you find relief from that soon. Maybe there will be some awesome twin group where you meet a mom as amazing as you are. Here’s to internet friends. For real. xxooOctober 3, 2014 – 6:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - I am always so impressed with the post you turn out when I know you wrote it in just under an hour. I loved this post and I listened to you read it just like you did at that “listen to your mother” thing. I think this would be another good entry.

    I really think our childhood neighborhoods were the best. I lived in an apartment up until 6 grade and even in the apartment complex we had some wonderful adventures.October 3, 2014 – 6:59 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kenya,
      That’s cool that you “heard” it in my voice! Thanks for thinking it’d be another good addition to that show (people are not allowed to try out each year – we have to wait for another year to make sure there are new people for each show). And YOU should try out!! EEP! That would be cool!
      I miss the old days with the easy kid playing adventures! And the 45 minute thing – sometimes I think it’s kinda sick that I need the pressure. Also, I always end up editing after hitting “publish” and feeling like a moron!October 3, 2014 – 6:57 pmReplyCancel

      • Kenya G. Johnson - EEP is right. I don’t think public speaking is my department 😉 LOL at hitting publish and then editing.October 4, 2014 – 8:06 amReplyCancel

  • christine - I used to do the same thing, trolling the neighborhood for someone, ANYONE, who would be my friend. I was blessed to find one. And several years later, another one moved in next door. Neighborhoods certainly aren’t what they used to be.
    Oh, the things we used to do all day long. While my kids have had a great childhood, I’m sad that my kids don’t have the same type of experiences. This living in the country can be very isolating.October 3, 2014 – 7:26 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Christine, I’m SO glad that you get it – trolling for somebody, ANYBODY to be a friend. It’s kinda sad that it seems so many of us have been there, especially when we have small kids, which is pretty much when we need friends the very most as married adults. I’m really glad that you found one. The place next to us is currently vacant, undergoing renovations so….maybe? Maybe a friend? And as to your kids’ experiences, I’d vote that the fact that there are many of them is almost as good. Plus, pigs. And mud.October 3, 2014 – 7:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerri - Oh my friend, I get this. I totally get that the neighborhood of 1970’s (Christ I’m old) is not the neighborhood of the 2000’s. Some of it isn’t Tucker-related but just how this world has evolved. But the part that is having a special needs child-related. That sucks. Because you need your hood now more than ever.

    Hugs, my friendOctober 3, 2014 – 9:10 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Kerri. I think it’s all of the things, combined. I really almost went somewhere different with this post but well… here it came. I guess it was good for me to write. And you are MEAN to send me that amazing house that is affordable – here it would be $2m I bet. Because now I want to move there. And what’s this about a job for Robert?October 3, 2014 – 7:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I feel like we grew up on a similar street in the same neighborhood…or maybe that was our generation and how neighborhoods were “back then”? It’s funny because when we moved to our current house, I wanted to live on this street because it reminded me of the street I grew up on, where everyone had small yards and so we all played in the street. As for the mom-friends, I can so relate to that lonely feeling of not finding that tribe at first. When we lived in NYC and my kids were young, I was desperate for the mom companionship and in the city, it’s so hard to find that feel of a neighborhood. I joined a playgroup and had a few mom friends in my building, but it still felt so isolating at times. I can see I’ve now rambled — I guess I should have participated in this prompt this week!October 3, 2014 – 9:17 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Emily, I think it’s a combination of the when and the where. Where we are now is so transient. A lot of people move in and out – stationed here for just a few years. I’m not sure if that’s it, or if it’s that I’m so much older than some of these moms, or what, but I miss that and wish Tucker had it! And um no pressure but the link code is open for an entire day more…October 3, 2014 – 8:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Leonor Vidal Carrosquilla - I miss the neighborhood of my childhood too and as often as we have moved, I still find myself looking for it. Miss you my friend! October 3, 2014 – 10:16 amReplyCancel

  • Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom - I feel like blogging has become my neighborhood of sorts! Thanks to Kelly McKenzie for encouraging me to join in the #FTSF fun.

    Your post resonated with me. I feel much the same way, especially at the bus stop. What’s interesting is that in my old neighborhood (which was an old neighborhood from the 50s with older homes and people of all ages), it was sort of like neighborhood nirvana. Our homes were smaller and closer and we seemed to let the kids wander more and enjoy themselves more. It’s only the last 3 years in a subdivision that I feel like everyone keeps to themselves and it is very artificial vanilla!October 3, 2014 – 10:26 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I feel like blogging friends are neighbors too, Katy. I think that there’s something to be said for how much we disclose through our writing, that we might not in person (at least me… when people are busy and whatever, we don’t really talk about us and our pasts and how we feel.. but we do do that in blogging, which is why I think we’re more neighbors than our neighbors a lot of the time). Ugh to the artificial vanilla. We have that here, too…October 3, 2014 – 10:29 pmReplyCancel

  • don - Your childhood sounds eerily similar to my own! We were never the house that had the good food and fun stuff in it, so we lived in the neighbors’ houses as often as we could!

    I find that many of these bus stop ladies are intolerable, if you get to know them well enough, so save yourself the time. Better to find one or two kickass mates than have a posse of fake bitches to call friends. Or something like that.October 3, 2014 – 12:58 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - What the hell happened that our kids don’t do this anymore and thank you iHubs for the reminder that the bus stop ladies are intolerable even if they’d ever know me.October 3, 2014 – 10:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Vidya Sury - Oh Kristi – neighbors, while growing up..even until I was in my early 20s were tribe. It seemed like everyone’s house in the neighborhood was Liberty Hall, an extension of each others’ families. Not any more. I think busy lifestyles and the mad rush from one thing to another has made it harder for people to connect face to face. And moving to a new place and trying to fit in, ugh.

    Sending you hugs!October 3, 2014 – 1:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Vidya, thank you so much. yeah to the moving and fitting in, although we’ve been here for a bit now and still don’t… maybe it’s us. Or maybe it’s being an older mom, unwilling to get into the drama? But thank you for your sweet comment. It means so very much to me.October 3, 2014 – 10:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Ryan - What ever happened to the busy streets full of kids?! I used to have that in my neighborhood. Now my daughter is the only little kid on her street!

    Screw the other moms, you are wayyyy too cool for them anyway 🙂 Love your post as usual.October 3, 2014 – 1:13 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I KNOW right girl Ryan? I want the streets and school parking lots full of kids. haha to me being cool. You are too cool. F’real.October 3, 2014 – 10:38 pmReplyCancel

  • jaklumen - I think everyone can relate to the change of community. I for sure can, because my childhood was during the ’70s and ’80s, too. Neighborhoods were much more open then, and they definitely aren’t, now.

    I don’t intend any guilt with this next statement, really– but I’ve felt much more alone as an actively engaged father, especially since I’ve been on disability. Guys would repeatedly ask me about my employment, and then clam up when I couldn’t give them an answer they wanted. I stopped doing play dates long ago because I’d be the only father there, and when the women stopped talking about parenting stuff, they talked about women things. I felt terribly out of place.October 3, 2014 – 1:24 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - UGH to the change of community… really. They were so much more open (and better??) way back then. And no guilt needed for you admitting that being the dad in those situations was shitty and lonely. Being the only dad there was, I’m sure awkward and icky and empowering and also just plain old weird because moms are sucky bitches sometimes and other times the best of all of us… I’m sorry you felt so out of place…October 3, 2014 – 10:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - When I grew up in the ‘burbs of D.C. I remember it being lonely, too. People moved a lot – with changes in administrations, because they were from other countries and their governments moved them, because they were military families and their postings changed. Now I live in a neighborhood of starter homes, 75% of which are rentals, and the tenants change a lot. We find our neighborhood with friends even if they are not withing walking distance. You are so correct that we have to create our own neighborhoods.October 3, 2014 – 1:45 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Maybe it’s DC then, Elizabeth? Because OMG I cannot believe that I’ve walked down the sidewalks here, said hello and not had even a reply back. It blows me away. Your neighborhood now sounds really nice… even though it’s not in walking distance. Also? Thank God for the internet. Really.October 3, 2014 – 11:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Yvonne - I love your last line Kristi, “somewhere, in looking for my neighborhood, I found my neighbors.” I have felt that way often, that neighbours aren’t necessarily those people who happen to live in our street, but those we connect with in some way.

    What you wrote about feeling lonely reminded me of how I felt when my girls were very small. We moved when our older daughter was a baby and, although I thought I could make friends anywhere, that particular town beat me! We moved a few year later, and have lovely neighbours now. There have been times when our street is that open door street you dreamed of, and our house has often been the centre for kids coming and going. We’re going through a quieter spell just now since the girls are older and busy with school work, but climbing trees, cycling in the streets even playing “Hunger Games” – it does still happen. I hope you get your dream!October 3, 2014 – 3:39 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I feel it too and thank you for getting that line, Yvonne! The world is SO messed up right now that it just breaks my heart and I wish that the kids we all have could just run free and easy from one house to another… not that they’re related but maybe? Maybe they are. And thank you. I hope that I do, too!!October 3, 2014 – 11:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - You’re *my* kind of cool mom. The other kind – the snubbers – can eff off. Glad you found your neighbours, even if they’re not as local as you’d like.October 3, 2014 – 4:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Bianca @ Rant Rave Crave - Your post made me smile & cry. I miss my childhood neighbors. Like you, I struggled finding that kind of community after I became a mama. I’ve dealt with mama drama, with mama wars as well so I totally feel you. I am glad you found your neighbors, even though they’re not on your block, I’m glad you found your people.October 3, 2014 – 4:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I so miss my childhood neighbors and am so glad that you could relate, if only that it leaves me less alone – thank you! I’m glad I found my people too – you, being one of them. Thanks for that.October 3, 2014 – 11:42 pmReplyCancel

  • allison - So beautiful. I thought that motherhood as a SAHM would look so different, too, not as isolating. I found my “neighborhood” but then my “neighborhood” changed and I feel like it will change again. Here ‘s to life’s ebb and flow and for community, whatever it looks like. Sometimes I wonder if blogging is our new neighborhood in some ways…October 3, 2014 – 5:01 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allison – what’s UP with thinking that motherhood would be more communal? I wish for that so much. And it seems like so many of us do… Here’s to blogging, baby. Because yes, it IS the ‘hood now. For many of us, I think…October 3, 2014 – 11:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - I remember that feeling of isolation when my oldest was first born. I even put some flyer in my neighborhood to try and start a play group, but nobody showed up. Eventually, I did find some friends, but I have grown apart form many of those over the years. I feel like I have a whole new “neighborhood” of friends in the blog world. They (you) are truly some of the best friends I’ve ever had – it just stinks that we are all so spread out and don’t get to do play dates and girls nights regularly!October 3, 2014 – 5:50 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lisa, I LOVE that you put up a flyer in your neighborhood looking for playdates!!! I tried so many and they were all just plain SUCKY sadly… but I wanted wanted those friends so much and I, too, feel like my new hood is mostly made up of online (you) friends that are really hard to explain to the rest of the world. It’s like, we share so much of ourselves through our writing, things we’d never say in person that I think we do actually know one another better sometimes than we know IRL friends… if that makes sense.October 3, 2014 – 11:46 pmReplyCancel

      • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - It completely makes sense. I agree that we share things online through out blogs that we might not normal share in person and that means many of my blog friends know me better than my in person friends.October 4, 2014 – 9:45 amReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - Mine too! Sometimes that makes me really sad. But then I think “would I really say something like ‘I’m really lonely’ to an IRL friend at dinner or happy hour?” probably not. Sometimes, maybe simply because during those minutes, I’m not? Still though we do share so much more online. Sigh. And hugs. And too bad we don’t live closer.October 5, 2014 – 8:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Julia Starr Arnold - I would love to be your neighbor, Kristi! Move here! :). I’ve had my share of struggles meeting other moms who I can form lasting friendships with. I certainly thought it would be easier in some ways to make new friends; it has taken a long time. My son has challenges as well, and I have found my best friends to be those who accept him and love him for who he is, not only despite his quirks, but even because of them. No small feat, though. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this linkup!October 3, 2014 – 6:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Marcia @ Menopausal Mother - Beautifully written post, Kristi!. I’m so happy that you found your “tribe.” The moms on the block who have not extended their friendship to you do not know what they are missing out on. I’d LOVE to be your neighbor! Funny thing is, I found my tribe in the blogosphere. I know we all live miles apart, but I feel like everyone is right here beside me. XOOctober 3, 2014 – 10:37 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh Marcia, I’d SO love to be YOUR neighbor. But yeah, I get it. this blogosphere thing – we Know one another with a capital K. 🙂October 3, 2014 – 11:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - Hi Kristi: Are you sure that you aren’t one of the cool moms? I’m kinda thinking that you are.

    No, seriously.

    Once you reach adulthood, the cool moms are the ones with self-confidence and self-direction. Which you have in spades.

    So, you ARE the cool mom. And within the neighborhood that you’ve created for Tucker, he will find love and acceptance. Which he is going to be pretty happy about.October 4, 2014 – 1:13 amReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Linda Atwell - This piece is priceless. There is often a gap between what is in our heads and reality. Sometimes, I like the reality I discover accidentally better than the picture in my head that I thought would be perfection. Wow, is that a long thought. I’m thrilled Tucker played with cousins, that he played. Baby steps are the greatest steps of all.October 4, 2014 – 2:51 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sometimes, I like the reality better than what’s in my head too Linda but I do wish that my neighborhood was more like the one that I grew up in – where kids are out all day, dashing into one another’s houses and of that. And yeah, Tucker playing with his cousins was AWESOME.October 6, 2014 – 6:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - The best posts are written last minute, aren’t they?
    I had a similar neighborhood childhood. It was just… awesome. We were like a little army of cretins, swarming the neighborhood.
    I really thought we’d be THE Halloween house to beat. And the one swarming with kids. And it kinda is, but we live in the woods and people don’t even know we live here. No trick-or-treaters at all.October 4, 2014 – 7:08 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sometimes the last minute ones really are the best. Maybe we don’t overthink them or something? I really should be smarter about posting on a schedule and thinking of what I’ll write before the last minute but… well. That’s a bummer you don’t have any trick-or-treaters but your house is awesome and I’ll bet it’s super cool decorated for Halloween!October 6, 2014 – 6:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Crumpets and Bollocks - It was as if you took my life and put it in words. I went through the same thing, and then to boot, my kid’s special needs mixed with mine really makes me too vulnerable to take on a good b-word if I mistake a jerk for a kind person. So my guard is up on top of it all. How did our generation grow up to be so narcissistic? October 4, 2014 – 10:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Kathy Radigan - I related to so much of this! When I had Tom 15 years ago I had just left my job and was in Queens, I knew nobody and spent almost a year walking the parks and libraries as if they were singe bars looking for a playmate. After a year I did find my tribe and loved it, and then had to start all over again when we moved. I also relate to having a child who is different and not feeling as if I fit in my neighborhood but finding such a community among the parents in my daughters special needs preschool and among the parents in my boys classes. I have found community but not where I expected to. xo Beautiful piece!October 4, 2014 – 11:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Brittnei - I guess by the time I was growing up the open door thing was over somewhat. I do remember a few kids who lived in the neighborhood in different places we lived that we played with. Some kids I was closer to than others. Now that I think of it, I can remember going over their houses and vice versa. But you’re right. It just wasn’t the same once I got older. You know what…I just thought of a neighbor I had in our last apartment complex that was a lot closer to me than the rest. She was Cuban lady and I only spoke Spanish with her. It didn’t last because they moved away. I read about the lives of so many bloggers and I tend to think I’m the only one who doesn’t really have local friends, but I see that’s not true.October 5, 2014 – 3:07 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah, I think a lot of us don’t have many local friends. I did find some when Tucker started his preschool program but most of the time we see each other, we’re with the kids so the type of bonding people do when they’re next door neighbors or something doesn’t happen as much maybe. I do miss the way it was when I was a kid though!October 6, 2014 – 7:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandy Ramsey - I feel sad so often for my kids. I think back to my childhood in the 70s and wish my kids could know that freedom, that uninhibited fun and unending adventure. For all the “things” they have today they are still missing out on so much. As for finding friends, I’ve been lucky enough to find a couple that I like spending time with and who get me, accept me as I am. I work on helping my kids nurture those kind of true, meaningful relationships because I’m all about quality over quantity. Our normal life IS normal. It just doesn’t look like the picture in Perfect Mommy Magazine….because it doesn’t exist. I wish I lived by you. We would totally rock that bus stop!October 5, 2014 – 8:19 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sandy,
      I know what you mean about wishing our kids could know the freedom that we had growing up. It’s so different now. I wish you lived by me, too!! And you’re so right – our normal life is normal. Thanks you.October 6, 2014 – 7:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Gretchen Weber Kelly - I too dreamt of that kind of neighborhood. The kind we had growing up. I wanted to be the house where all the kids hung out. My kids don’t have special needs, but it’s still not the way I’d imagined. Everybody’s more isolated. “Play” has to be planned. It’s not as casual and relaxed as it was in our childhood. I feel the isolation, but I can’t imagine how much more lonely it would feel to be surrounded by people who didn’t “get” my child. I’m glad you’ve found your people…October 5, 2014 – 3:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Joy Christi - You had great neighbors! I talk about this w/my family and my husband all the time. Growing up, we would go into our neighbor’s house ALL THE TIME. Their kids were grown, but they would give us treats and talk to us and play with us, they were retired and liked the company, just like we liked having adult attention because there were always TOO MANY KIDS in our house!
    Now my neighbors barely talk to us, never go outside or if they do and we force our way over into their backyard, the kids are so busy fighting each other to play with my kids. The adults are too busy cleaning or cooking or doing something inside to visit. It’s SO LONELY in my neighborhood! It sucks. There is no community. I am trying to build some sort of tribe with the parents from my daughter’s preschool, but it’s on the other side of town, which is where most of them live. We are trying, but it seems like everyone is just so “busy.” It’s sad. I’m thankful for my blogging tribe at least! They’re smart and really funny and lovely. e-hug ?October 6, 2014 – 11:41 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Your neighbors sound awesome, Joy! I love that they were so cool and welcoming to you! Sorry that your neighbors are kinda sucky these days. Never going outside is just weird. My neighborhood is lonely too! It sucks! I strike up convos at the playground but a lot of times those don’t work either (maybe it’s me).
      I’m really thankful for my blogging tribe too Joy!October 6, 2014 – 7:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Smith Sprenger - That brought tears to my eyes. You know who I wish was your neighbor? ME, dammit! Wouldn’t everything in the whole world be better? I miss my 1980s neighborhood, too, and I think of it whenever I see juniper bushes, too, isn’t that crazy?? We are lucky to have the neighbors we do… I just wish you were one of them. xoOctober 6, 2014 – 8:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Lillian Connelly - I miss the neighborhoods of my youth too. We moved into a rural community and everyone on our road is over 50 with grown up children. We fell in love with the house and never really thought about the future. Our daughter has nobody to play with so we make a big effort to get to the park and now she is in preschool and making friends. We are still building a community and it is slow going.

    I am so glad you found your tribe. I think that makes all the difference!October 7, 2014 – 5:34 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sigh to the neighborhoods of our youth (or yewts, to quote that movie we all seem to love from back then). Ugh to the slow going but it sounds like you’re doing all of the very right things!October 26, 2014 – 11:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Is there cheese in it? - yes, I love this! reminds me of this quote from that movie Garden State – “Maybe that’s all family really is: a group of people that miss the same imaginary place.” 😉October 7, 2014 – 7:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I wish we were neighbors!October 11, 2014 – 2:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Tyrean Martinson - Wow. That was powerful. I wish I was your neighbor . . . but then, I live in a neighborhood where the driveways are so stinking long (country road) that my neighbors are the ones who get out and walk/run/bicycle at the same time I do . . .
    I miss the old neighborhood of the 80s too.October 15, 2014 – 6:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Seana Turner - I think anytime we are living a reality that is — in any way — not mainstream, we feel isolated. Whether it is a special needs child, extended unemployment, illness, whatever. It feels like life is going on so normally for everyone else, and we are over here wondering how that can be? I’m so thankful that you’ve connected with a community of people who share your normal. That kind of group has been a lifesaver for me when I’ve been in similar shoes.October 26, 2014 – 2:58 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think you’re right about us feeling isolated but I so wish that weren’t the case. I want to feel more connected and I DO have a PAC community but we’re all at different schools, and well, I wish the moms at the bus stop were better? THanks so so much for your sweet comment!!October 26, 2014 – 11:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - Oh how I love this… I love that you searched for bonding and friendships and through each season you were able to find someone to join hands with you in the parenting journey…

    Those lonely isolated times and feelings stretch into every mother’s heart, I believe. It’s amazing how powerful having just ONE person be WITH you is- and I have lived through seasons of change in those friends as my kids have changed and I have changed.

    I think it happens to everyone really. In our own ‘neighborhoods’ where we roam…

    That picture is PRICELESS!!October 30, 2014 – 12:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Piper George - Oh I know just how you feel. I wanted to make friends and have that kind of life when I was pregnant. I grew up in a neighbourhood where we all climbed the tree in my front garden and cycled round and round the pavements – and now I live in a remote house with no neighbours or pavements and I still, 8 years on, find it so hard. I want my kids to be able to knock for their friends without me having to drive them over first. Still – I found my group, even if it was through the dod walk and not through the mums.November 4, 2014 – 2:37 pmReplyCancel

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