I recently had a rare night off in which I met up with a group of mom friends. We had a wonderful time. I showered, ordered grown up beverages, calmed no tantrums, and got almost nothing spilled on me. It was so magical and so liberating.
Until the conversation inevitably turned to the ideal age gap between kids.
(If you’re reading this and you were with me that night, there was nothing wrong with the conversation and you did nothing wrong, other than make the mistake of being friends with a shameless blogger.)
Some people fall into the Have Kids Close in Age group. There are many advantages (so I’ve heard). Siblings close in age entertain each other. They are lifelong friends. You get the hard baby stuff out of the way in less time. You’re in baby mode anyway.
Some people fall into the Have Kids Far Apart in Age group. There are many advantages to this family as well (so I’ve heard). Children who are older when the sibling is born take on a protective and supportive role. The older child can more easily entertain himself while you tend to the baby. The older child may already be in school part time. You get a chance to get your body and mind and sleep schedule back in between pregnancies.
Family spacing falls into the same category as breastfeeding, sleep training, homeschooling, baby wearing, (I could go on, but I’d rather die). There are families that do things one way and it works and families that do things the exact opposite way and it works too. No one is ever judged for the years or months they put in between pregnancies or adoptions, but it’s hard to bring an opinion to the conversation when that space hasn’t been your choice.
Life happens. Death happens. Divorce happens. Infertility happens. Miscarriage happens. Career happens. Failed adoption happens.
When you’re like me and the age gap you put between your kids feels totally out of your hands and possibly the opposite of how you want it to be, you can feel like a failure. Like there’s some age gap sweet spot you have to hit or you’ve ruined your family dynamic forever.
Today I got together with the same mom group and started chatting with someone I hadn’t spoken to much in the past. We talked about Legoland and nap schedules (the juicy stuff) when I noticed there was a larger than average age gap between her kids. I asked her how she liked it and her face lit up listing the reasons. Some I’ve heard before, some were new. I was encouraged by how happy she was. Then her eyes looked down.
“It wasn’t my choice, but I love it now.”
Bingo. Solidarity, sister.
I revealed my son will be much older than I would like him to be when his sibling comes along, if that even happens. We both shared how life doesn’t care what you want or what you think is ideal. And that’s okay.
I hope when and if my son gets a sibling I will be like my new friend. Overjoyed and focused on the positives of my family structure. But also honest about how it wasn’t my first choice. And that’s okay.
I also hope the group still invites me to mom nights out. Please don’t block me on Facebook. I promise to behave.