I'd always thought I wanted kids with two-year age gaps, like my siblings.
Because of mental-health and fertility challenges, I had kids who are four years apart.
The larger age gap has been great for parents and kids alike.
It's always been easy to keep track of how old my siblings are. There are four of us, two boys and two girls, all exactly two years apart.
The well-balanced brood appealed to my type-A personality, and I grasped it as a template for my future family. When my husband said he wasn't quite sold on four kids, I replied that maybe I could compromise on the number, but the two-year age gap was too perfect to pass up. I pictured our future family with a baby and a toddler chasing each other through childhood in quick succession.
Then we started having babies.
I realized my family planning might not be as precise as my parents' when it took me nearly nine months to get pregnant. My baby's first year was a whirlwind of interstate moves, job changes, sleepless nights, and postpartum mood fluctuations. By the time we made it to 15 months — when we would have to start trying to hit that two-year age difference — I wasn't even sure I wanted another child, but I knew I didn't want one right then.
Slowly, over the next two years, I began to find balance in motherhood. Many months of trying and one miscarriage later, my daughter finally became a big sister, a month after her fourth birthday.
Now we're contemplating a third baby, who would be about five years younger than our little one. For years I worried that I had set my girls up for a distant childhood by not having them closer together, but I've learned to love our age gap.
It helped me be the best mom possible
Despite years of nannying for infants, I had no idea how exhausting the infant stage is.
I know some parents love a snuggly baby, but my husband and I are not those people — give us a silly toddler over an infant any day. Neither of us operates well being sleep deprived, and getting through the first two years took everything we had.
Spacing the kids out allowed us to get through that time without the added stress of a pregnancy and a newborn.
The age gap helped my child thrive and made the transition seamless
My first daughter was a high-maintenance baby. For the first year she demanded the uninterrupted attention of her parents; after that, she just asked for it. She thrived having Mom and Dad to herself.
I worried that she might feel dethroned, but by the time her sister came along she was confident and flourishing. She was old enough to understand the new addition, and there wasn't even a hiccup when we brought our second home.
The kids play but don't bicker too much
The big perk of having kids close in age is that they can play together, so I worried that a bigger age gap would mean siblings stuck on parallel tracks.
I couldn't have been more wrong. My girls adore playing together, with the added perk that my older daughter has patience for and is understanding of her sister's toddler antics. That means less arguing, and less refereeing from me.
There's so much pressure on parenthood, especially early on. Assuming that we need to have kids close in age just adds to that, especially when family planning isn't always something we can control. Whether it's for financial reasons, a result of fertility challenges, or just because, having kids with a bigger age gap can be a beautiful way to build your family.
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