Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Everybody Needs Good Neighbours.."

My neighbours have been known to tell me that my washing has been on the line for too long, and then take it off and even bring it inside for me. They have also been known to keep my husband away from our house at length. I worry about them seeing how dirty my verandah can be, or hearing me shout, or my kids fight. I don't like them to see how often I cook 'banged up meals'. In the past they have commented on how inappropriate my clothes are for the climate, and they even tell me that I go out a lot.

My neighbours will also happily take my children for whole days at a time. They give up their time to enable me to have a social life. I can't work unless my neighbours take my children for me. They have been known to cook meals and send them over when I am tired or sick or busy. They help me clean my yard and verandah, and they lend me food items when I am short. They are there to help me when I am feeling 'off'. They never complain about all the things I do to complicate their lives.

My neighbours are also my in-laws. They are genuinely nice people who make my life easier. They live about 70m away.
My house on the left - in-laws house on the right.

It hasn't always been so wonderful, and more and more I hear about people living in similar situations who struggle with it. I wanted to be able to talk about this without pointing fingers. I wanted to let people know that they are not alone.

In our case, there were several years of adjustments that needed to happen. I cried a lot! By nature I am something of a control freak, and I think the idea of having 'parents' who knew about every aspect of my life, was a little overwhelming at times. In fact, it took until after the birth of all three children for me to truly appreciate what a blessing it can be having your parents in law live next door!

The 'in-law' relationship is perhaps one of the most difficult relationships you will ever have. In my case, I am nothing like my in-laws at all! I could write a really long blog about all the negatives that come with living next to any parents at all. At times it feels like there are four of us in our marriage. Having said that though, living where we do has been full of more positives across the years. Perhaps having children was the catalyst for helping me understand how much I need those extra people in my life? Without child care freely available out here, I am dependant on my in laws to help with minding the children. I'd like to know how many neighbours would go to the lengths that mine have to give me some help, peace of mind and respite when I needed it.

There have been tears, laughter and everythig in between across the years.

Any situation is only going to be as good or as bad as you make it. It's taken me having to learn when to speak, and when to stay silent. It's taken me learning more patience. It's taken me realising that they aren't always against me, and that they actually want to help - even though they help in ways I don't often appreciate or understand. It's taken me learning when to ask for help and when to say 'that's enough'. It's taken me years of learning how to communicate, to be able to love what I have here.

I can honestly say that I love my neighbours. Even through the good, the bad and the ugly. And we've been through most of it!

PS. For the record, I also have some other awesome neighbours too - thanks Leesa! - but they didn't crack the in-law category!

How do you go with your neighbours? Or do you live near your own parents or in-laws? And how do you fare?


  1. Jess, you're a great example to daughters-in-law everywhere. Too often we hear complaints from these girls who perhaps forget that it isn't only their lives that are being turned upside down by this marriage. Sometimes it needs to be remembered that those who've gone before us have done the hard yards and are providing a home and a lifestyle for us.

  2. I have what can only be described as excellent in-laws. They have been so supportive, generous and helpful over the years. The closest they have lived is 2km away though so I am sure that helped iron out any potential glitches. And I agree with Fiona about people sometimes forgetting the hard yards done by the generations before....

  3. I have had the best inlaws anyone could ask for! The outstanding generosity and everything they have done is for the love of their son and their grandchildren and me as their wife and mother. I am truly the daughter they never had. my husband is an only child and it has given them such joy for us to give them 3 grandchildren. They live 6 KM away, in town. My FIL died on 25th of June and my MIL is in hospital awaiting a spot in the nursing home. When they are not in a position to suddenly mind the kids for a couple of hours is when you truly appreciate their handiness in that aspect. My neighbours out here though are fantastic and will drop absolutely everything to rush to our aid for whatever(as we have done!) and partake in an on the spot partee, from the car fridge in the back of the cruiser, in the middle of an adjoining paddock, tee hee.

  4. Well, my in-laws are NOT nearby, although my parents are closer. My mother-in-law passed away before we got married, and I have regularly missed her in our lives. I don't know, of course, what our relationship would have been like, but I know that family support when the chips are down (and man, have they been down at times with us) is everything.

    I think you are lucky if your closest neighbours know how to walk the line between helful and interfering. I'm not sure how I would go, being THAT close. I could do with someone remembering the washing though! LOL.

  5. I guess I'm the opposite - the mother-in-law living 200m from the younger ones. Because I disliked my own m-in-law through all the years of my marriage, I think am doubly happy about really loving my d-in-law. We all have our moments, I guess, but I wouldn't change my neighbours for anything.

  6. My in-laws live 40km away, but they are our second closest set of neighbours. They are fabulous and I feel lucky to have them... I do try to remember that they've done the hard yards for almost 60 years for me to be able to swoop in during a good season and have a fairly great life out here... I wish there was a way I could really show them how much I appreciate it, but I just try to always be friendly and easy to get along with in return.


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