I always figured I’d have two kids close in age. It just seemed like the reasonable, “regular” thing to do. They’d always have a built-in playmate, a built-in friend — despite the inevitable bickering and clothes stealing. My sister and I are 27 months apart, and although we’ve had some competitive issues and our abundance of fights, I can’t imagine growing up without her. I don’t have any memories without her in my life, which I think strengthens our bond.
And having kids two years apart doesn’t sound that close. That’s two years of recovery between kids, right? Except that it’s not. I didn’t think about how a pregnancy lasts almost a year — not to mention the “trying” phase, which could take a huge chunk of time itself. And beyond that, I simply couldn’t entertain the idea of pregnancy until my son was well into his second year. Even now, over 3 years after I first got pregnant, I’m on the fence about the next one.
As much as I know I wasn’t ready to have another baby so close to the first, I can’t help but feel a sadness when my son is playing with toys by himself, imagining a world full of silly voices and songs. I see photos of twins, hear stories of close-set siblings, and I wonder if I made a mistake. Did we wait too long? But after much thinking (and thinking and some more thinking), I realized that there are a lot of great reasons to space out children — and specifically a lot of great reasons for me, personally:
1. More one-on-one time
I like that I can give more one-on-one time during those first three formative years. I know every child is different, but my son went through a very possessive-of-mommy phase in the beginning of his twos (he’s starting to come out of it now at 32 months), and I know it would have been difficult to introduce another baby during that time. And because my first son will be in school when the next is born, I can give more individual attention to the next baby.
2. I’m not a fan of chaos
I know it’s part of the parenting description, but I’m not one of those women with endless bounds of patience. I give A LOT of credit to women who can have a lot of children in a row and still remain sane. Because me? I would be a crazy mother, for sure. And do you know what children need more than a close-set sibling? A sane mother.
3. We can build more financial security.
As I’ve written about before, I wasn’t ready for the first baby. Emotionally, yes. Financially? Pssh. I was an unemployed college graduate with no health insurance or savings account whatsoever. And we’ve thankfully built a nice life in the last two years, so I’d rather be financially stable for the next go ’round. I know I’ll never be completely financially ready — no one is — but I need some sense of “we can do this” for the next addition. That wouldn’t have been so had we started trying a year and a half ago.
4. Two in diapers? No thanks.
Do you know what’s less appealing than potty training? Finding time to potty train one while changing the other’s diaper. If I’m not going to have kids back to back, I might as well wait until one is out of diapers.
5. I have biological time
I’m only 25 years old, so I should technically have plenty of fertility left. There’s no rush!
6. My oldest son can be a little helper
Of course I’ll never know how he’ll react, but knowing Noah, I think he’ll love the role of “big brother.”
7. There’s no consensus on the “ideal” spacing
Trust me; I’ve asked. A lot. I’ve asked parents about their kids, adults about their siblings, only children, big family members, etc., etc. — and I’ve never had a clear answer. The answers vary as widely as there are variations, largely (solely?) depending on the children themselves. (Although a recent study showed children born within two years of their sibling are more likely to have autism than those born three or more years apart.)
8. I didn’t “want” another baby
For the longest time, the idea of having another baby made me feel more panic (and exhaustion) than excitement. I didn’t want another baby, and I only started considering getting pregnant for my son. But the question kept ringing: Is this the best reason to bring a baby into the world? For his/her sibling? I decided to wait until we fully, wholeheartedly wanted our next family member — and I’m very happy with that decision.
9. My body can recover between pregnancies
Now that my son is in preschool, I have a little more alone time to sneak in exercise and focus on myself.
10. It’s right for our family.
And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. As clearly as I felt that Noah was meant to be a part of our family, I feel like the next one wasn’t ready to come yet.