When we brought our daughter home, I was a bit nervous to introduce her into our household. We had become accustomed to the only-child lifestyle. The “little kid” stuff was gone; we gave it all away when kindergarten started because it was just taking up too much space. It was easy to travel and do more activities or take off on a whim. By the age of 9, our son had traveled around the country more than I had at 25. There was quite a bit of an age gap between them.
Needless to say, things were about to change a bit.
Enter the explosion of new baby items, a car seat, stroller, and all the other baby gear and our home changed. Add the current state of the world and we are really learning what quality time is all about. It has been a truly unique experience for our son to be home to see his baby sister go through every single part of her day. Every little squeal, whine, giggle and wiggle were things he would have missed while at school or out doing activities all the time.
The beautiful thing I get to witness is his new-found pride as a big brother and his fierce guardianship of her. He proudly states, “All I want is to keep her safe,” as he blocks sunlight from hitting her eyes in the backseat of the car. What a gift it is to see this sibling adoration in action. I’m not sure if that’s quite so noticeable with kids closer in age. I have nothing to compare it to other than my own 3-year separation from my older brother. Let me say, although we get along wonderfully as adults, I don’t recall much adoration coming from him as a child.
I know other families with large age gaps between kids, but most also have other kids sprinkled in between. After many years of secondary infertility, we were blessed with our second little one through adoption. Both of our children are a true miracle to us, and while I didn’t plan to have such a large age gap between them, I find I am falling in love with the gap. And here’s why.
Our oldest is learning so much about babies.
At age 9, he already makes comments about all the things he’ll know already when he becomes a dad. He will truly remember his sister coming into our lives. It’s also a really great opportunity to teach more about understanding and patience. He really loves being a big brother (at least for right now).
I make sure to allow him to help but not rely on him to take care of her. It’s not his responsibility to be in charge of his little sister. Maybe when he’s older it will be appropriate, but in the meantime he enjoys entertaining her and giving her lots of love. I also try to explain to him what is appropriate for her to play with. He is already planning her first Minecraft adventure, but doesn’t quite understand just how far off that will be.
We get to plan one-on-one time.
Our attention is definitely divided with an infant in the house. I can be in the middle of almost anything and get completely distracted by her needs. Sometimes I can’t even hear what someone else is saying or be able to concentrate with the baby chatter. I recently took the opportunity to play 9 holes of golf with my big kid. We’ve never gone just the two of us. Halfway through he took up the ladies tee box with me instead of playing the kids one. It was such a fun and memorable experience together.
I enjoy being an “older” parent.
Since we have been married for some time and have an older child, we have a sense of comfort in our family with less to discover about each other. We’ve been together for many years. We’ve been settled in our home for many years. I’m settled in myself, as is my husband. We have routines figured out. We are able to fully discover this new little one and adjust to our family with less struggle than we did when our first was born. I’m more willing to accept support or say no when I need to.
It’s never too late to add to your family.
There are so many ways to grow a family that are worth every effort. I love where we are right now and I am falling in love with the age gap we have. There were many times over the years I doubted and thought, “maybe we should just quit trying and accept it’s just the three of us.” But something felt unsettled and we knew someone else was meant to complete our family. Now, we have a beautiful girl full of energy and sweetness. The gap in age of our children and even the gap from what I thought my life might look like by middle age is a new, beautiful thing.
When I reflect back on what my vague expectation might have been on marriage, career, and parenting I’m all of a sudden struck with how vastly far away I am from any blueprint I might have had. Still, I can’t imagine it any other way. I’m a mom in the 40+ age category with 2 kiddos and a large age gap. Between our 6-month-old sweet, baby girl and the big boy who just distance-learned through second grade we are a happy family with an eight and a half year gap. When you Google “family planning age gap,” the ideal maxes out at a 4 year spread. That’s a pretty narrow span; and let me tell you, life doesn’t always work out according to plan.
In fact, from what I’ve learned, it rarely does.