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The Best Fringe Benefits of Being the Baby of the Family

Image source: thinkstock
Image source: thinkstock

After 15 months of trying to conceive my fourth child, seeing that little pink plus sign filled me with incredible happiness … followed by immediate anxiety. I scrambled to do the math – How much younger is this baby going to be than my other three kids? Having children with a large age-gap was new territory for me. I was just taking life as it is, when infertility set in and the time between my babies just kept getting wider and wider.

I wasn’t going to let infertility prevent me from the family size I knew I wanted; everything in me told me there was someone missing. But to say I wasn’t worried about this little person’s possibility of existing would be a lie.

My husband and I intentionally had our children close in age. We liked the benefits it gave us: having playmates who enjoy the same type of activities, getting over the hard stages like “terrible twos” faster, and having them all in the same diaper size were huge perks for us.

With three kids in as many years, I was concerned with how this new baby would fit into our lives, five years after our youngest and eight years apart from our older child. Not only was it going to feel like we were starting all over again (how much was not sleeping again going to suck?), but I didn’t know how it would affect the sibling dynamic.

I worried that my youngest would feel left out. I worried he would not connect with his older siblings in the way my older three do. I worried they would be overly annoyed with having a baby around and want nothing to do with him. I worried and I worried.

And then he was born.

We always obsess over the things we don’t know and I quickly realized many of my worries were unfounded. Turns out the 8-year age gap was nothing to lose sleep over. This boy has so many wonderful perks, thanks to having an older brother and two older sisters around.

Here are just a few:

1. From all that time listening to his siblings talk, language came quicker for him than other kids, and at 13 months old, he’s already speaking in sentences.

2. He gets to eat foods I never would have allowed my older kids to eat at his age – like Cheetos (not because I say so, but because his siblings drop them on the floor or sneak him one).

3. He’s able to participate in activities above his age level, like watching the latest Marvel movie or staying up later.

4.  He has his own cheering squad whenever he achieves a new milestone.

5. He escaped hand-me-down purgatory, because we got rid of all the old baby things with the 5+ year age gap.

6. He has more than one person to meet his demands, so if he wants water and I’m busy, one of the other kids will grab it for him.

7. If I don’t understand what he is trying to tell me, chances are at least one of his siblings can translate for him.

8. He has three other people who are always looking out for him and making sure he’s not putting something too weird into his mouth.

9. Playing with toys is much more fun because he can choose between his older sister’s Barbie dolls, his older brother’s Star Wars figurines, or his own Little People characters – all the toys!

I know that has he gets older, the perks are just going to increase. He has people who he can rely on, ask for help with homework, and get in all kinds of trouble with.

The age difference that once kept me up at night no longer worries me in the slightest, because in the year that he’s been here with us, I’ve realized that it’s not age that matters, but being a family.

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