It never fails: strangers with only the nicest intentions comment on the HUGE age gap of my children with something like “WOW! You waited a long time!” or “You were almost done, why did you start over?” “Don’t you want boys?” Then there is always the less offensive “Do they have the same dad?” Of course, I smile and nod and don’t go into my long ordeal of the death of my first husband, infant loss, miscarriages, and secondary infertility.
I guess people assume since you have kids, you didn’t have trouble having kids, and your private business is their business. They really are just making small talk, which I am admittedly terrible at. I think because I always have such big things on my mind, and everything said brings up all these heavy things, but you can’t talk about them with strangers, nor do I wish to. So I end up all awkward and come off rude and snobbish. Sorry, all you strangers. I will work on it. I would not have planned to have my girls 10 years apart, but it was all part of God’s plan and it has worked out to be the best thing for our family. I polled everyone I know that has a big age gap in kids, and all agreed the good by far out weigh the bad.
The good: My oldest was an only child for 10 years, so she was ready to have a sibling; way, way, more than ready. She had been praying for a sibling since she was 3. She also suffered the infant losses with us and that gave her an even deeper desire to be a big sister. She was at that age where she loved babies and loved to play with babies and baby dolls, so having her own tiny little baby to play with was an amazing gift. My youngest, now 4, thinks her big sister hung the moon! She wants to be just like her, and do everything the way her big sister does. She wants to hold her hand at the store instead of mine, she wants her sissy to fix her hair instead of me, and big sissy really can do no wrong. I also love the helping hands I always have with having an older child around. I can trust her to watch her sister so I can grab a shower, etc. It’s perfect! The oldest is also great at playing with the youngest, something I admit I struggle with. So when I just can’t sit in the floor and play Barbie or tea party again, I have a back up! As they grow into young women, I know they will always have each other, even when my husband and I are gone, and I am so grateful for that special bond.
The bad: try finding a movie or TV show they both want to watch. Impossible. The big gets to go with friends, do sleep overs, and lots of other things the little just isn’t old enough for yet. I find myself always telling the little “when you are older.” She even says now “Momma, can I do XYZ when I am a big girl like sissy?” It’s heart breaking. When sissy is gone to school all day, little sister misses her so much, constantly asking, “When will sissy be home?” The breaks are always fun, but then we have to readjust all over again when school is back in. Finding family activities has also been a struggle. Of course they both like the zoo, Disney, camping, and actually snow skiing now, but for the first few years it really was hard to find something we could all do. That gets easier each year as they get older, but we still find ourselves in the “divide and conquer” mode in many situations. The little always has to be taxi driver with me, too, because big sissy has some activity most days. Of course, the youngest probably learns older language and sassiness earlier than her cohorts. Sometimes you wonder if you are dealing with two three-nagers or teenagers, as the behaviors are quite similar!
I also would have had another closer in age to my youngest if I could have. It was not my choice to be done, but God had other plans. While I dread the day my oldest goes to college, which is just 4 years away, I know then my youngest will get to experience being an only child. Like bookends, they each will have similar experiences as sisters. We will have an altogether different take on the empty nest. We will all mourn the change, but probably none as much as little sister. Until then, we will just make the most of our time together under the same roof and continue to bask in the glory of sisters 10 years apart.
Are your kids separated in age by a “great divide”? Tell us about it in the comments!