The Upstairs Family (or, Emily’s a Horrible Neighbour)

In the apartment above us, there lives a small family of four, consisting of two parents, a toddler son, and an infant baby girl. I’ve chatted with the mother a few times while doing laundry and she seems nice enough (though when I first met her she scared the living day lights out of me as we almost collided in the dim hallway, both sending heavy baskets of dirty clothes flying in all directions). 

The one complaint I have about this family is that they are exceptionally loud. Our apartment walls are thin, but at least I can mostly tell that the twenty somethings across the hall with their loud music and weekend parties are actually across the hall. The Upstairs Family often seem to be right in my apartment. 

And because I am easily entertained (and a terrible neighbour), I have decided to document an average day in the life of Upstairs Family through the eyes of Downstairs Family. 

4:30 AM– The alarms of the Downstairs Family go off. Downstairs Husband rises and starts to get ready for work as Downstairs Wife (that’s me) lies in bed trying to sleep for a couple more minutes. Upstairs Baby starts to wake up too, crying her signature colicky cry.  

5:00 AM– Downstairs Husband kisses Downstairs Wife and leaves for work. Shortly after, the stomp of heavy military boots hit the floor upstairs, clomping about until another set of adult feet hit the floor and somebody goes to comfort the crying baby. Upstairs Father has a brief, half shouted conversation that boarders on an argument with Upstairs Mother before running down the stairs, shaking the walls of my living room where I sit, drinking tea. 

6:00 AM– Upstairs Toddler wakes up and starts shrieking. I’ve finished my devotions and breakfast at this point. My nanny senses (are they mommy senses now?) start tingling as the cries of the colicky baby and the toddler grow louder, as if they’re coming from my kitchen. Soon, however, the sound of Dr. Jean’s guacamole song replace Upstairs Toddler’s complaints…. And proceeds to play over and over again until he inevitably gets tired of it and switches to the fun activity of running the length of the apartment, laughing and screaming while he runs.

7:00 AM– Upstairs Mother wrangles Upstairs Toddler into day clothes. I can hear nearly shouted conversation. 

“I want the Spider Man shirt!” 

“It’s dirty, you wore it yesterday.”

“But I WANT IT!!!”

“Fine! Just quit yelling, oh my god!”

There’s some more running back and forth from Upstairs Toddler before he is herded out the door (punctuated by a slam that sets the lamp in my dining room swinging) and all three march down the stairs, presumably bringing the Upstairs Toddler to preschool.

7:30 AM– Upstairs Mother returns. You can tell they’ve come back into the building because Upstairs Baby resumes crying. Upstairs Mother plays her own music on the speakers (she likes Adele and country music), providing some musical accompaniment to my dishwashing and puttering. 

8:00 AM– Upstairs Mother clearly has her home a bit cleaner than mine as the sound of the vacuum drones through my ceiling every morning. In a sense, it gives me a feeling of productivity. Even though my floor’s not being vacuumed daily, it prompts me to tidy up some things. Positive peer pressure! Thanks, Upstairs Mom!!!

9:00 AM– Upstairs Baby has finally stopped crying which means that it’s a good time for Downstairs Mom to take a nap. Peace and quiet for at least two hours. I hope Upstairs Mom gets her rest in too.

11:00 AM– Upstairs Baby starts crying again. I decide that now is as good a time as ever to pop down to the store and buy something for dinner tonight.

12:00 PM– Downstairs Mom returns from the grocery store and, upon cutting the car engine, can hear that Upstairs Baby is still crying. Downstairs Mom begins to worry about her own baby and rubs her budding belly. “Please don’t be a crier. I would rather you have a habit for spitting up!”

1:30 PM– Upstairs Mom seems to have had it too as Upstairs Baby’s cries are occasionally punctuated by her own cries of, “Oh my god, would you just stop crying?” I can hear the pacing back and forth. Being a mom is tough.

2:00 PM– Somebody came to drop off Upstairs Toddler, who runs around and jumps up and down a bit before settling down to watch very loud cartoons. Downstairs Mom accepts that she will never escape Mickey Mouse Club House.

3:00 PM– Are they rearranging furniture again? The sounds of scraping and moving roil above me as I fold laundry. Also it seems that Upstairs Family has some kind of shaky machine that is always rattling. It can’t be a washer and dryer, because why would Upstairs Mother feel the need to come downstairs to use the annoying quarter machines if they already have one of their own? Is that a dishwasher? Do dishwashers sound like jackhammers? Is it actually a jackhammer? The Downstairs Family will never know.

4:00 PM– Downstairs Mom, great with child, is now exhausted after doing minimal labour and decides to lie on the couch for a bit. I wonder if Upstairs Mom feels the same way. Loud footsteps start ascending the stairs and my wedding portrait on the other side of the wall shifts sideways as the staircase creaks and shifts. Upstairs Dad is home, as heard by a happy toddler shriek.  

4:30 PM– There is no hope for a nap for Downstairs Mom as Upstairs Toddler proceeds to yell and act out to get Upstairs Dad’s attention. Which only makes Upstairs Dad irritable as he loudly commands Upstairs Toddler to settle down. This is Downstairs Mom’s signal to get up and start making dinner as Downstairs Dad will be home soon. 

5:30 PM– Downstairs Dad comes back and Downstairs Mom can’t hear Upstairs Family because she’s so happy to have her hubby home. 

7:30 PM– Downstairs Dad huffs in annoyance while cuddled up on the couch with Downstairs Mom. He stares up at the ceiling. “What the heck are they doing up there?” The mysterious machine is whirring, Upstairs Baby is crying, the pitter patter of Upstairs Toddler’s feet continue to dance over our heads. Downstairs Dad looks nervous about bringing this level of noise into his life. Downstairs Mom reassures him that not all babies cry like that. 

9:00 PM– Downstairs Mom is ready to get into bed. Upstairs Toddler is clearly not. 

10:30 PM– Downstairs Mom starts to wonder if anybody actually sleeps up there.

12:30 AM– Dear lord, is that the shower running? 

2:00 AM– Have you tried giving Upstairs Baby a pacifier, Upstairs Mom? This crying has been going on since 1AM and I’m sure you need a break from it too.

3:00 AM– Upstairs Toddler seems to have a nightmare. Downstairs Mom wonders if she’s having one as well.

4:00 AM– Upstairs Baby seems settled for the time being. Downstairs Mom snuggles close to Downstairs Dad, hoping for a couple moments of quiet.

4:30 AM– The alarms go off. Another day begins.

And this, my friends, is why I’m prepared for motherhood. I already get little to no sleep because of children! 

DISCLAIMER: I bear Upstairs Family no ill will and am not passing judgement upon them for being loud. Just wanted to clarify before anybody jumped down my throat or accused me of being a judgemental person. I am a mere observer and what I observe, I write. I am also certain that all my neighbours hate me when I go on the occasional Broadway kick. Also I’m sure that I will have just as many frazzled moments as a mom. Upstairs Mom is doing her best and probably has a cleaner house than me so I absolutely have respect.

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