Age gap

When Henry was a baby, I wrote an essay about having children nearly five years apart. Some of my friends have asked about the age gap now that the kids are older.

I still think that this spacing is easier than having children close in age. I have had a lot of time to enjoy Henry’s baby and toddler years because Eleanor is so independent. They rarely compete with each other and generally like hanging out together. Eleanor loves the big sister role, sometimes too much. She’ll warn me, “Mom, Henry is getting into trouble, and I think you need to do something about it.”

Here’s hoping that she still loves to play the mom at 12 or 13. Free baby-sitting! (I know this is super unlikely.)

The hardest part is finding activities that are fun for both. Henry is masterful on his little strider bike, but he can’t keep up with Eleanor. Eleanor is getting into complex games, while Henry is just beginning to learn the basic ones. I worry that Eleanor is not quite matching her peers on an emotional level because she spends so much time with a 3-year-old. She’s still happy to watch the little PBS shows that Henry watches (lots of “Bob the Builder”), though I know I should do more to find things that interest her.

Even when she has friends over, she isn’t getting the full big-kid experience because Henry wants to join in. Henry’s quite the social butterfly and will shout “My friend is here!” when an 8- or 9-year-old shows up at our door to play with Eleanor.

Strangers still comment all the time about the age difference. “That’s a big gap!” or “Five years? And it’s just those two?” My response is almost always the same. “That wasn’t the plan, but that’s how it worked out.” Sometimes I will get two comments in one day. Those days are rough.

I remind myself that someday the kids will be through school and people will stop asking about their ages. I’m always wishing that they were closer in age and could share more life experiences. Even with the gap, their lives are much richer for having each other. No regrets here.

5 thoughts on “Age gap

  1. Hi – I started following your posts when I found you in a search for stillborn or baby loss. My son was stillborn on October 7, 2016 and he and my daughter would have been 2 years 4 months apart. We wanted our kids about 2-3 years apart…as you know all too well, plans don’t always go accordingly. I just felt the need to drop you a note to say thanks for that appropriate response to the question, “why did you have them so far apart?” I find myself anxious for all those questions the next time around…”Aw, is this your second?!” – “Actually no, my son died.” then watch as they gasp and you feel bad for making them feel awkward. So, thank you…for an appropriate and very simple answer that people can go whichever way they want to in their heads. Your kiddos are too cute:)
    Have a good day!

  2. I am three years apart from my older sister and I had always planned for the same gap. That plan was ripped apart when my second baby was stillborn. My rainbow came a year later, si my boys are five years apart. I was obsessed with this gap for a while…thinking they wouldn’t be as close, but I’ve actually come to really enjoy the 4 year gap. Like you say, there is less competition and my older son is a huge help. I didn’t plan it this way, but it’s beautiful to watch this special bond of brotherhood growing every day.

  3. Whitney, I am so sorry about the loss of your son. I hope that you are finding the support that you need. Blogs were a lifeline for me in the early months; I needed to know that others had been through the same despair and had somehow gotten back to living life.

    Heather, I think I am mentioning Genevieve less as the years pass. It used to pain me to have to engage in small talk with people, and as you know, mentioning stillbirth can end the conversation pretty quickly. Also, I needed for people to acknowledge my daughter. I’m at a place now where I can accept that strangers are just trying to make conversation for 10 or 15 minutes while they’re at the park or the library. So many people are locked into their phones that it feels special when someone actually wants to talk. The nosiness still drives me crazy, especially because these comments sometimes are directed at people in the middle of infertility or grief. I hope my response is enough to make people realize they have crossed a line.

  4. Thank you for this! My son and daughter are just over 5 years apart, also due to a loss in between (twin boys, in our case, who were born prematurely and didn’t survive). We are currently wrestling with the question of whether to have another kid. I want another, my husband thinks we are done. I’m worried that I want another baby because I think it will fill a hole that I know, logically, won’t ever be filled. My two living kids have a lovely relationship (they are 7 and 2) and I am trying to be happy with that, to feel like that’s enough. It’s hard!

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