I have two sons aged 2 and 11, what most would consider a big age gap. I have very, very rarely told people the ages of my children and not had them remark on it. I don’t mind, I’m sure I’d do the same, but the trick is managing my response. At the beginning I would feel pressured to explain the ‘reason’ for the gap, now I tend to make a joke about life being interesting and leave people to wonder. The truth is, my sons have different biological fathers, but they are both being raised by the same fantastic daddy.
When I was pregnant people would often comment that I would have a fabulous helper when the baby came along. I always felt this was a bit unfair, my eldest can be really helpful, but I have always been careful not expect him to do too much. And in all honesty he’s either at school, reading or playing computer games.
I felt sad for many years as I watched my eldest sons friends with their siblings and it wasn’t on the cards for him. Once I was in a relationship he would often ask for a brother and occasionally people would insensitively ask him if he wanted one and I would feel a pang of guilt. I’m one of four and whilst my siblings and I fought A LOT, we were also thick as thieves and lucky to have each other as ready made playmates.
When we did decided to a have a baby, whilst I knew my eldest would be happy, I felt the time had passed for him to have a sibling in the playmate way I grew up. I was convinced it’d be a little like having 2 only children, that the age gap was too large for them to have that tight bond.
They have of course proved me wrong; they adore one another and in the last 6 months they have really started to play together, chasing games, wrestling and just generally teasing one another are favourites. I definitely thought the big age difference would mean I wasn’t telling them off for squabbling, but I surprisingly frequently find myself saying ‘don’t torment him’ or ‘stop winding each other up!’
There are drawbacks; if we want to go out for the day it’s pretty tricky to find something that works for them both; bowling or the cinema aren’t hugely compatible with a toddler and my eldest is past the age of soft play or farm parks. So we try to frequently weave in some one on one time or make use of awesome grandparents for babysitting.
There have been some amusing parallels though, they’ve been at the same shoe size for a year; infant size 5 and adult size 5 currently and teething at the same time, as my toddler got his baby teeth and my preteen grew his adult set. Also preteens; they are emotional, frustrated people, as they try to figure out the world around them and who they are, a lot like toddlers!
That first summer being a mum of two showed me why big age gaps might be underrated in the most sanity saving way. In the throes of the fourth trimester I had a companion there everyday to have a chat with, yes, we had to chat a lot about You Tube or the computer game of the moment, but it was so good to have a proper conversation.
I would’ve loved to experience two children close together to hope to replicate the bond I had with my siblings, but I hope my two will have it in a slightly different way.