I went on for a bit yesterday about how this project was supposed to highlight mothers apart from their mothering but there are some women in my life with whom this is virtually impossible. Kristen is one of those women.

I met her before she had children, but just barely. She and her husband moved in next door to me six years ago. It's important to understand that I live in a connected townhouse so when I say next door, I mean that we actually share some of the walls in our home. Very close proximity. I'm pretty sure my first memory of her was me trying to explain that my six year old didn't always run around our front yard in his tidy whities and a Superman cape.

Her first child was born the next year and it was really only after that when we became close. (Nothing bonds women quite like motherhood.) Her daughter was the little sibling my son had always wanted. And then we were pregnant together. She with a toddler in tow and me with an eight year old. I was out of practice and she was a seasoned veteran. When I ran out of diapers (rookie mistake) she was there. When I had a gynecologist appointment and was afraid to traumatize my baby for life, her door was open. When my baby fell out of his bouncy seat she calmly got us strapped in the car and off to the hospital, and then turned off my stove and fed my dog. Long winter afternoons were made tolerable by sharing the dinner-making and witching-hour-baby-rocking. Everyone should have such a neighbor.

Now she has a third baby and lives a mile down the street. Our boys are in nursery school together and most mornings she drives them to school. The days of running next door for milk are gone but the friendship remains. Kristen has been an important influence on my own mothering. She is pragmatic and steady and unapologetically human. Although she is younger than me, I sometimes feel that she is more mature than I am and find myself modeling her parenting style.

I miss having her on the other side of the wall but I know the bond of intimately sharing the early years of our babies lives will keep us close.