I dealt with secondary infertility for a long time, and I spent a lot of that time really angry that my kids were going to be so far apart. One “friend” even commented “Why even try to get pregnant again? It would just be like trying to replace your other one.” o_O Once Vivi finally got here, I knew exactly why I had to wait 6.5 years for her — Addie. I’m sure Addie would have been an amazing sister no matter when she became one, but something mighty special happened when these two met for the first time.
Watching these two girls together has been the the greatest source of joy in my entire life. I know in talking to friends that the love Vivi and Addie have for each other is a little more unique than a lot of sibling relationships and the 6.5 year age gap is the biggest determining factor in the difference. There are some negatives to having your only two kids be this far apart, but the benefits FAR outweigh any of the inconveniences when you see them together.
One of the greatest things I hear from women dealing with secondary infertility is that my girls give them hope that not only will they survive a big age gap, but that it may be the very best thing that ever happened to their family. If I could go back and have a do-over, choosing when I got pregnant (HA!), or if I were to get pregnant again (which, nope), I would want another 6 year age gap, at least.
Here’s a few of the benefits and reasons I’m glad my kids are 6 years apart:
An Extra Set of Hands 1 of 20
From the moment Vivi was born, Addie wanted to (and has been able to) help. Having her around to (willingly) grab this or grab that during not only the early weeks of newborn haze, but the current survival-of-the-fittest toddler years has proved invaluable.
Old Enough to Be Responsible 2 of 20
Addie was nearly 6.5 when Vivi was born, meaning she already had a year of kindergarten under her tutu. She understood that newborn Vivi was fragile, and understands now that toddler Vivi is prone to fits of rage. I could leave them alone in the other room (so I could shower! BLESS!) and not worry about Addie trying to make the baby fly or smothering her with pillows.
Now that Vivi is a toddler, Addie is great at keeping an extra eye on Vivi when we're out and about and when I need to get something done around the house (SHOWER), Addie can hang with Vivi long enough for me to get things done.
Young Enough to Play 3 of 20
Addie is still young enough to actually play with Vivi - in this picture she was teaching her how to draw ponies.
Forever Young 4 of 20
Having Vivi around keeps Addie a lot younger than some of her friends without much younger siblings. She still plays dress up, house, school, and lots of pretend with Vivi around. They build forts, they watch Sesame Street and Addie helps Vivi with toddler iPad games, which she also happens to enjoy herself.
Each Raised Similar to an Only Child 5 of 20
Addie is in school Monday-Friday, meaning I have that time alone with Vivi. Addie had a good solid 6 years of solo time with her dad and me and it's nice to have similar solo time with Vivi as well, just yesterday we went on a little lunch date. It's fun to date your toddler.
They're not forced (or even really able) to have the same interests, the same friends or the same hobbies. Each one is very unique in what they like and how they like to do it, but work very well together.
Pure Silliness 6 of 20
No one on this entire planet can make Vivi giggle the way Addie can, and Addie has no reservations about being absolutely ridiculous for her baby sister. This may not have much to do with the big age gap, but there have been times when Addie has brought a grumpy Vivi back from the depths of toddler despair in a way no one else could.
Patience 7 of 20
MY HEAVENS, the patience Addie shows with Vivi blows my mind. She may not show a tiny bit of patience when it comes to going to get ice cream or opening a package meant for her — but the patience she shows her little sister proves to me it is there.
If we can't get Vivi to do something, chances are Addie can convince her to.
Imagination 8 of 20
Addie teaches Vivi about things I know nothing about, like pretending to be werewolves in princess dresses. Vivi has the greatest example of imagination in her big sister, as Addie learned to develop it over her 6 years as an only child. The fact that Vivi plays right along thrills Addie.
Never in the Same School 9 of 20
My girls will never overlap in the same school. I was always two years behind my sister and there were many teachers that remembered my sister and treated me differently because of the way they remembered her.
College at Different Times 10 of 20
Assuming things go textbook (pun!) with college, our girls won't be getting their undergrad at the same time. Meaning Addie can help guide her sister, Vivi can look to Addie as inspiration, and our wallets won't weep as hard during the college years.
Vivi will also be able to go visit her sister at college, or maybe even babysit for her once she's a parent and Vivi is the one in college.
Less Hectic Schedule 11 of 20
Addie is involved in some pretty intense gymnastics classes. I can't imagine trying to juggle multiple schedules as busy as hers. Vivi is still a few years away from being heavily involved in anything, which gives me the sanity and calm in my life my personality so desperately needs.
No Competition 12 of 20
They won't be going for the same boys, the same bands, the same friends, the same spots on athletic teams or the same scholarships at the same time. While there will be some overlap, and I'm sure some drama when Addie can date and Vivi has to stay home with her parents, they will essentially each have their own very different lives.
Weekend Mornings 13 of 20
If Addie is feeling particularly helpful, she'll sometimes get Vivi out of bed on a Saturday or Sunday morning, help her go potty, then get her breakfast, watch cartoons, and play with Vivi until Cody and I roll out of bed.
If only she knew how much this really meant to us, she could probably swindle us for a pony or something.
Help on Long Flights 14 of 20
Addie is a flying pro - give her a book, something to color, a snack and maybe a game and she can entertain herself on even the longest flight. Vivi, on the other hand, she's not having any of it. Having Addie around on long flights is like having two parents, but one is way more fun and Vivi listens to her a lot better than she listens to me.
Potty Training Assistance 15 of 20
Vivi is potty training almost a year ahead of Addie — thanks to Addie. Addie has taken her into the bathroom with her since Vivi could walk and has been putting her on the potty (and reading her books) for just as long. While I dread potty training, Addie thinks it's fun to teach Vivi a new life skill.
Again, if she knew the depths of my gratitude, she could probably get another pony.
Life Lessons 16 of 20
Addie has a way of explaining things to Vivi that make sense to her little two-year-old brain. She teaches her little things I would never think to focus on, like how to curtsey properly or make a bed out of a box.
Backseat Helper 17 of 20
Having a bigger kid in the back seat makes road trips or even trips to the store SO. MUCH. EASIER. She can hand her toys, read to her, get her snacks and relay what is going on to the driver (me). On really long road trips she can start a DVD and help Vivi with her headphones.
Help in Parking Lots 18 of 20
Addie's to the point where she knows running across the road and in parking lots is a terrible idea. Vivi, however, is still figuring out that cars don't stop just because you're around and having Addie around to help Vivi cross streets and parking lots when my hands may be full has saved me a lot of shouting and panic.
Bedtime Stories 19 of 20
Addie can read and read well, that alone makes her the best possible toy for Vivi ever. Addie loves the captive audience, Vivi loves the silly voices that Addie does and Addie never gets tired of reading to her little sister. She even uses her "free book" option at the school library to pick a picture book out that she can read to Vivi.
Vivi even requests that Addie read her bedtime stories now. (Addie doesn't mind because it gets her out of bedtime as well.)
Absolute Adoration 20 of 20
I'm sure it's true with most any siblings, but there's something about this 6.5 year age gap that is simply magical. They don't fight, they don't argue and they don't demand Cody's and my attention in the same way at the same time.
They absolutely adore each other and I can see their relationship staying this magical forever, as there's no reason for it not to. It truly is a blessing to witness and the very best part of being a parent of two.
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy or her Babble Voices site Shutterlovely. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.