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.