Tuesday night, a handful of neighbors and I walked to the newish restaurant down the street for a mellow mid-week ladies night. (I guess that's why I didn't write anything on Tuesday. Well, that and I forgot.)
We're sort of a motley crew, brought together first and foremost by where we live. Are we similar? Different? Who cares?! We're neighbors!
I haven't had location-based friends like this since my year abroad in college when I had roommates I adored. Or when I was a kid and chose friends not by what we had in common but rather on whether we had assigned seats together in class or could ride bikes to each others house. Plus there was always my sister. Siblings are the greatest location-based friends ever.
Until we lived here, I had only had grown up friends based on more substantial things like a shared history or taste in music. Bill and I knew our neighbors' names (sometimes...) but certainly didn't form relationships with them simply because they lived nearby. I never would have guessed I'd be having girls night out with my neighbors at this stage in my life but I'm so incredibly glad that I am.
As it turns out, location-based friendships are pretty fantastic. You don't have to size each other up to make sure you have enough in common to make an effort, you can just go ahead and be friends already. No one has to "fit in" because there's nothing to fit into. Do you live on this street? Good enough for me! Just come as you are and bring what you've got.
It can make something as simple as dinner and drinks a totally eye opening experience. Because when you hang out with people who are a little bit different than you, you almost can't help but grow kinder and more tolerant. If you only hung out with people who had every last thing in common with you, you'd have little need for change (not to mention empathy, patience, leadership, etc...).
This is probably why parenthood is such a brave endeavor. Having kids opens you up to a lifetime of unknowns. Will your kid be exactly like you? No chance. Even if he is a chip of the ol' block, you'll be in completely different age brackets your entire lives. One way or another you'll both have to find a way to tolerate (not to mention love!) one another every single day for a LONG time. No wonder it feels like our kids teach us so much (and why some days the growing pains are so much more obvious than others...).
Same goes for siblings. Which, believe it or not, is what I actually sat down to write about today (hello, random tangent!). At dinner we were talking about how far apart our kids are and the consensus seemed to be, the closer in age you can have them, the better. Sure, it's a nightmare for the first year or so but if you can find a way to survive, you're golden!
I was the only one at the table whose kids were more than two years apart so of course I was also the only one who thought four-and-a-half years was the perfect way to space them. I wanted to make a case for having kids a little farther apart but now that I've written all this, I realize it doesn't really matter much at all (which is kind of a bummer because now my title doesn't make sense!).
Siblings, like neighbors, are most likely going to be very different. No matter if they're close in age or far apart or identical triplets. They're not in the relationship based on similarities, they're in it because THEY HAVE NO CHOICE. But that's a good thing! The differences are what help us grow into more well rounded people. As a parent, I'm happy to make it my job to force the issue. Not having a relationship with each other is just not an option. Conran boys are required to make it work, whether they like it or not, every single day!
Liam and Finn have already learned so much from one another and are both better people for having a brother. (Just as I am for having two sons!) Hopefully by the time they have college roommates or neighbors or kids of their own, they'll be so used to the push and pull of a forced relationship, they'll hardly notice the growing pains.