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So Far Away: The Reality of Having Kids Far Apart in Age

photo (76)I have two sons, a 10-year-old and a 5-year-old.

I didn’t plan on having kids so far apart in age; it just kind of worked out that way. When I first became a mother I slipped into a fog of depression for a few years that I’ve written about six dozen times. It wasn’t until the fog lifted that I decided to take another crack at motherhood. About 24 hours after I decided to try again boom. I was pregnant. I carried that baby for only nine short weeks only to lose her. I waited a little before trying again. My heart wasn’t ready, my head wasn’t ready, and I had serious doubts about my body ever being ready. But alas, in time I conceived again and gave birth two days after my eldest started kindergarten.

I felt pretty damn smug about our sibling spacing throughout my last pregnancy. Look at me, all figured out and such! I wouldn’t have two in diapers hell no! I’d have one kid who did everything from wipe his own butt to take his own shower and one little baby who depended on me for everything. This I could handle.

My older son helped out quite a bit. He gophered diapers in explosive poopy situations, helped with spit-up eruptions, and entertained his baby brother while Mommy grabbed a two minute shower. Once again, I was smug. What were all these parents so frazzled about? Why did my parents only have one kid? My God, this was the way to go. It really was the way to go…until it just wasn’t anymore.

I soon learned that having kids spaced more than a couple of years apart caused friction in millions of little ways. While I’m sure parents of close-spacers could easily argue why their path is more difficult than mine, I can only speak of what I know.

As my boys grew, it became increasingly difficult to manage their age difference. BooBoo all but skipped toddlerhood in favor of full on kid status. He was into Sesame Street for like a hot second one Tuesday afternoon and was over it by dinnertime. From then on it was all Pokémon, SpongeBob, and Star Wars.

Soft, plush, no choking-hazard age-appropriate toys? Fuggetaboudit. My toddler jonesed for itty-bitty please-swallow-me-Legos. The kind I couldn’t get my then 7-year-old to wrangle up if I tried.

Then came everything else. Every time Boy Wonder wanted to play in the front yard with his neighborhood buddies, little brother would throw an epic fit. I couldn’t exactly blame my then 8-year-old. I mean, I wouldn’t want my 3-year-old brother tagging along and getting in the way either.

Boy Wonder has privileges that were hard won on account of his age and maturity. Privileges BooBoo doesn’t understand. It’s a constant state of, “That’s not fair! Why does he get to do cool stuff and I can’t?” I don’t care how many times tell him that he and his big brother aren’t the same, it just doesn’t even register.

Maybe two in diapers wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world. Maybe these kids would have had more in common. Maybe they would have played better together. All I know is that 5 and 10-years-old feels like centuries apart right now. And sure, maybe it won’t always feel this way, but today it sure as hell does.

Indeed there are precious moments of togetherness between them, but they’re rare and fleeting. My greatest hope is that someday these two will understand the tremendous gift they possess in each other.

Do you have kids far apart in age? Are they close?

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