• Wed, Jan 18 2012

Knocked Up: My Kids Will Be Nearly A Decade Apart And I Couldn’t Be Happier

Every night for the past couple of months, my daughter lays her head on my stomach and sings to “our” baby. That’s because I’m pregnant. Although I gave birth to my daughter in 2003, I feel like I’m pregnant for the first time. After all, it’s been almost a decade since I’ve had a bun in the oven, which also means there will be almost a decade age gap between my first and second born.

Aside from the fact I don’t remember anything from the first time around (except the weight gain), I absolutely love this age gap. While I didn’t plan or not plan on having another child so far apart from my first, I believe that this is age gap is positively perfect and is going to make my life a lot easier than most who have children 18 months or two or three years apart.

I know there are a ton of parents who want to have their children close in age, but I really think having children with a big age gap is the best way to go. There are many reasons for this.  [tagbox tag="pregnancy"]

1. My daughter is already independent. She has her own life, her own friends, her own toys and gadgets, which she will not have to share. I look into the future and think, “Well, phew, they’re not going to be arguing over toys or who is next playing Wii!” When my daughter is 12, and this child is two, do you really think they’re going to want to play with the same toys? I watch my friends with young children 18 months or two years apart, and there is a lot of “Mine! Mine! Mine!” going on. And, “He’s touching my Pokémon cards and they’re mine!” It drives me nuts!

2. My daughter is old enough to understand that I’m having a baby. And she’s excited about it, as most young girls are when they see babies, thus the singing to my belly, and calling he/she “our” baby. She can’t wait to change diapers, sing the baby songs, and hold the baby.

3. She’s been out of diapers and off the bottle for a very long time now. I watch my friends with children close in age, and just think, “Man, I can’t believe you have to change your 2-year-old’s diapers and your newborn’s diapers. That’s a lot of diapers.”

4. I will be able to take a shower and not worry about my newborn because, in my family, I’ll have built-in babysitters (my daughter plus my baby daddy’s two older children.) Not that I’ll force them to babysit (although they are old enough to want to babysit, if only for the cash) – but certainly my daughter will be okay watching the baby while I take a five-minute shower (which I was too nervous to do when my daughter was a newborn and asleep.)

5. I love the fact that my daughter already has her own life. She has her own friends at school and at camp, and her own extra-curricular activities. Again, when my baby is six and and my firstborn is 16, they’ll each have their own set of friends and activities, and won’t be envious of each other’s lives. (As an example, my friend bought her 12-year-old a phone for her birthday. Her almost 10-year-old now wants one badly, too, and won’t shut up about it. They also have to go to bed at the same time, so they are envious of each other’s lives.)

I also see my friends having to force their children who are only a couple years apart to “play nicely with each other,” and also they drag all their children with them when sometimes only one is, let’s say, in ballet. I may take this baby with me, but what will the baby care if she/he has to sit around for an hour while my daughter takes her dance class? She/he will be a baby! Unlike my friend’s son who is forced to come watch his sister in ballet class, because they are only a year-and-a -half apart.

6. My daughter and I had almost a decade to form our own bond. Since she’s been an only child for so long, we’ve built a strong relationship, without any interruptions or worry that I was spending more time with one child over the other. There has been no jealousy, and I don’t think will be, because my daughter is old enough to understand, “You love her more than me!” Our bond is so strong, thanks to years of us being on our own together, that not even another child can break it at this point.

7. Even if I have another girl, she won’t have to wear hand-me down clothes. (As if I had or will keep clothes for ten years in storage for this new baby!)

I’m not the only one having children so far apart in age these days. One of my mother friends has a child in college, another in high school, and one in third grade. She explained how her 8-year-old daughter came to be after a night out with her husband, where they decided they weren’t ready for empty nest syndrome. Once, when she couldn’t make it to see her 8-year-old during a class event, her university-aged son came in her place. I thought that was super sweet. Another mother I know also has four children: the eldest in college, two in high school, and one in third grade. The older ones watch out for the “baby” in the family and walk her to school.

8. I won’t have to deal with putting two children to bed, having to change two children at the same time. My daughter can get ready on her own now, and has been toilet trained for years. I’ll have two children, but only have to worry about getting one to sleep.

I can go on and on about the beauty of having children so far apart in age. The only downside I can think of is that I feel like this is my first pregnancy. But, hey, I figure since I’m also almost a decade older than I was during my first pregnancy, I must be more mature, too, having a second child so far from the first. Right?

Now can someone please tell me when babies start to teethe again?

(Photo: iStockphoto)

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  • T

    Here is another: I’m a decade older than my youngest brother. I love him in a totally different (but equal) way than the brother only 3 years younger than me. I remember his babyhood, I cared for him/changed him/gave him his juice box. It is hard being grown-up and away from him, but I cherish (and I think he does too) my memories and experiences with him in a different way than my middle brother.

  • bl

    Congratulations! I actually have a sister who is 15 MONTHS older and a brother who is 15 YEARS younger, so from the sibling perspective I’ve seen both sides. I never had any of the sibling rivalry issues with my sister, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy for my parents having 2 little ones. Also, I’d add it’s a great learning experience to have a baby in the house when you’re an older child. I was never expected to mother him, but I of course spent tons of time with him helping out, and I learned so much useful info about raising kids. But the bond between large age gap siblings is so different and cool, it’s hard to explain. I feel protective, a bit maternal, and so in awe of watching him grow up-things that you don’t get to experience with a close age sibling.

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  • Mel Mel

    I was born in 1990 and have a little brother who was born in 2000. I remember always wanting to visit my mom in the hospital when he was born and being super excited about having a baby brother. I helped feed him and change him and I loved it. Now that he is 11 and I’m 21 we have a great relationship because there was never any sibling rivalry or competition for our parents attention, and he likes having a cool older sister who will take him out to get ice cream or to the movies or the park :)

  • NotThumper

    Congratulations! I actually really enjoy this article and hope everything works out exactly as you hope it will. My BIL is 10 years younger than my husband (and myself) and it is not a good thing for them. They don’t have any relationship whatsoever. I find it incredibly sad actually so to see your positive points as well as other commenters…it’s heartwarming to me.

    (The reason I think the 10 year gap is a problem in my husband’s case is due to their parents but that’s a whole bother ball of wax…)

    Good luck and congratulations again! :)

  • self help

    My sister and I are 10 years apart, and the dynamic didn’t work out well for us. We get along now that we’re adults, but there were many years where we didn’t get along at all.

  • CW

    Congrats! My DH and his sister were 9 and 12 when their younger brother was born (MIL had a surprise pregnancy at 42!) They apparently helped MIL a ton when he was little and are close to him now as adults.

  • kate

    Congratulations! Soudns like this will be wonderful for your family :) One not on #2 though, my 3 year old and 5 year old were very aware of the baby, and were so excited for her and the littles still insists she is the “family” baby, so thats not really big kid exclusive ;) I hear you on the rest of it, have 3 kids 5 and under is alot of work!! My third felt like a whole new experience too, even though my kids are close in age, its just different. And baby’s teeth between 4 months and a year ;)

  • Shelby

    In defense of the younger…my sister was 9 years older than me, and we still fought. Also, I think she didn’t like the fact that she was a “Built in baby-sitter” and I didn’t so much like the idea of having practically a 2nd mom around. now, She in her 30s and I in my late 20s, she still seems like an ‘older’ figure in my life, and I have a lot of respect for her. I have a brother 14 months younger than I, and him and I are a LOT closer for many reasons.

  • Rachael

    Congrats! My sisters are 26 and 28 years older than me, and we’ve had our ups and downs, but we love each other a lot! One hint to your daughter: resist the urge to “mother” your sibling when he/she starts getting into teenhood…he/she will appreciate having the unique sibling bond! Good luck to you and your family.

  • Ashley

    You will LOVE it! Our third daughter was born when my older two were 14 and 9. The oldest had a little trouble initially (but she was 14 and not a baby person!) but both big sisters totally adore their 3 year old sister. The biggest benefit for my husband and I is the slew of memories it brings back! I will admit too that it also reminds me constantly how cute my oldest was – important when she is showing her teenage attitude! It’s amazing how similar parenting teens and toddlers is!

  • KMilt

    My kids are exactly ten years apart, and it’s awesome! My son (now 11) has an appreciation for his little sister I don’t think he’d have had were they closer in age, and my daughter (20 months) thinks her big brother walks on water. Having a toddler wanting his attention gets on his nerves at times, of course, but he’s a huge help and really gets a kick out of her antics. I feel so fortunate to have had ten full years to get to know my son, and I’m really enjoying the big age gap between them.

  • Sasha

    This seems to be a common occurrence.. My husband and I are expecting our first child together in July. His two boys from his previous marriage are now 20 and 18. They’re happy to have a younger sibling coming soon.

    Anyway, congrats :)

  • Raya

    I agree wholeheartedly. My son is 29 and my daughter is 17. My son has been invaluable in helping me help her navigate through the teen years. Although he is much older than her, he provides a perspective that resonates more to her than hearing the same message from me and her dad.

  • Raya

    I agree wholeheartedly. My son is 29 and my daughter is 17. My son has been invaluable in helping me help her navigate through the teen years. Although he is much older than her, he provides a perspective that resonates more to her than hearing the same message from me and her dad.

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  • RighttoWorkMom

    Can I ask a question of the parents who can relate?

    I’m an older sibling. My little (half) sister is ten years younger than me. I’m also a mom to one little girl who I love more than life itself. I love being a parent. I love everything about being her mom. However . . .

    I can’t help but think of how hard it would be to start over again. We’ve just reached the stage where our daughter can play by herself in a room for a little while with us just “checking in” every few minutes. She can communicate with us and she’s more fun now than she has ever been! We could easily have more children now, but in five or six years? I’m really looking forward to being a mom for every stage of my daughter’s life, but I’m also looking forward to being able to go on a date with my husband without having to pay $10/hour for a babysitter. I’m looking forward to taking my daughter traveling and not having to bring a carseat (she’s four, so we have years still before we’ll reach these stages).

    I guess my point is that I can’t imagine having her be approaching her teenage years while I’m still getting up for 3am bottle feedings. I definitely can’t imagine how hard it would be to see her start college while I’m six months pregnant.

    I’m really hoping I don’t get snark for these questions. I’m genuinely curious about the mindset that people have here. I have no criticism for anyone’s choices. I just like to know what helped them make their decisions.

    Obviously some people want BIG families and love having babies all the time (the Duggar family is an extreme example, but she’s the only well-known person I can think of who had a baby after her first grandchild was born), but for the people who only have two or three kids, I’d love to hear about how you made the decision to have more children later in your parenting life.

    • NotThumper

      I hope no one snarks you. I completely understand where you are coming from. My in laws are in the early-mid 60′s and my BIL is a teenager. He’ll be 18 this year and has calmed down but a few years ago he was quite a handful and my IL’s just couldn’t cope. My MIL had confided in me at the time that she simply wasn’t prepared to do battle with a strong willed teen since my husband, her first born, wasn’t like that. She also mentioned that at her age she just didn’t have the energy to take him on. She assured me that she loved him and didn’t regret him (not that I ever doubted either) but she didn’t really think this far ahead when she got pregnant 10 years after her first.

      I think you’re very smart to think about these things. To be honest I know I don’t want there to be a sizable age gap between my daughter and my hypothetical second child. I have given myself until she is roughly 2.5 to decide whether or not I want another child (traumatic 1st pregnancy so I’m very unsure).

      So again, I hope no one snarks you and I’m curious to see what others say in reply to your question.

  • Julie

    Congrats on your second child! I also have siblings who are ten, ten and fifteen years younger than me. (My mother and stepmother were pregnant at the same time- all three are half siblings) I remember that special time when I was excited about helping out with changing diapers and feeding time and all the other fun stuff that came along with a new baby in the house. There were a few years of trouble tho when I got a little older into my teens. I wanted to be as independent as I could but having a six year old vying for the attention of my friends ALL THE TIME made things a little combative at times. (This was mostly with my sister as I grew up with my mom and my younger brothers lived with my father and stepmom). Now, I’m almost 30, my sister is almost 20 and we have a very close relationship. It was a lot of fun when she was small, and now that she’s grown I wouldn’t want it any other way. But I can’t say my hormonal teenage years were easy for either of us.

    I really hope this isn’t discouraging, as this is just my account of how things went from the child’s perspective. I was a brat growing up and I didn’t make things easy on my mom and I know that. I wish you the best of luck, and your older daughter sounds like an angel- what could be better than that?

  • Vanessa

    I loved reading this! I am 33 and I have “big” kids- 8 and nearly 6. It was hard parenting them when they were small. We have been trying to have a third for years, it didn’t happen until now and we are due in May. I have been LOVING this pregnancy for so many reasons, but mostly because it is like being pregnant again for the first time, since I can focus on myself and enjoy each moment since I’m not chasing a toddler around. But without all the uncertainty, since I’ve been through it before.

    But I do have moments of “am I crazy?” and wondering what business I have, having another baby when my kids are so much older. But they have been nothing but excited and it is great to see others who have a big space between their oldest and youngest. It makes me feel less crazy!

    Enjoy and all the best to you!

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  • Maggie

    My sister is ten years older than me and I love it for so many of the reasons you mentioned above.

    Bonus there are a lot of things that are embarssing to have a mom do (dropping you and your friends off at the dance, take you shopping for your first bra, pick you up from a party when your designated driver gets drunk) but an older sister is just fine.

  • Sasha

    First off, jolly good for still feeling up to it. Secondly: you could not have chosen a better form of birth control for your older daughter.

    But third! As a child with a 10 year age difference: WE ARE NOT YOUR BUILT IN BABYSITTERS! If your “baby” is 5, your elder child is 15. And, let me tell you, no quicker way exists to make yourself and the younger sibling The Archenemies than to make your elder child the default babysitter. My mother and I have never recovered a relationship and my sister is still old enough to need sitting. I’m in my 20s and treated as an “in house sitter”.

    Not that I mind helping out, that isn’t the point. It’s that there’s an attitude of “Well, I took care of you when it wasn’t convenient for me. Pay back time”

  • Jay

    There are pros and cons to any age gap. What’s important is you are happy with your life.

    I just feel like a flip side should be shown, since you are so adamant about making one better than the other, when really, age gaps don’t work like that. It totally depends on your children and your family dynamic.

    I am 22 months older than my first little sister. I was a very helpful toddler, as my mother kept me involved. Our photo albums are full of pictures where, I’m trying to change my sister’s diaper or feed her, when I had only just learned to feed myself. There are also photos of us taking baths together, having matching outfits, playing the same games together. My sister truly is my very best friend and aside from my husband, she knows me better than anyone else in the world. Now, I also have two sisters younger than her. We all share the same parents. I am 4 years older than my younger middle sister and 7 years older than my youngest sister. I love my sisters unconditionally, but our bond isn’t as deep as my oldest younger sister’s bond with me. I actually see my youngest sister more as a child of my own since right after she was born my parents divorced and I was left to help raise them.

    I am thrilled that my husband and I had our children 25 months apart, because we only planned on and want two children. They are best friends. They fight, yes, as all siblings do, but they understand each other, they share the same interests and they are completely inseparable.

    There are pros and cons to any age gap. And having your kids closer together is not better than having your kids further apart, and vice verse. It really depends on your children, your family, and your family dynamic.

  • Erin

    I am nine years younger than my sister and I love the age difference! When we were younger we got along/didn’t really interfere with each other. The age difference made it so that we didn’t have huge blowout fights like our mom used to with her sister who is one year younger. We were independent from each other but could hang out and do sisterly things together too. When I graduated high school and my sister moved out we got really close. We talked to each other every day and I would often have sleepovers at her new apartment. Then when she had kids we got even closer. I was cool auntie and we took the kids out and did fun things together. Now we have a bond I don’t think we would have had if we had been closer in age. She gives me sage advice and I embolden her to make choices that are more adventurous.

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  • natasha12

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  • Heather Haselrick

    I come from a blended family. Our older brother was 9 years older than myself whereas our baby sister is two years younger than myself. My relationship with my brother was so much better growing up than with my sister.

  • HeartfeltCelt

    Thank you for this! I’ve been nervous about my 10 year old step daughter’s reaction and relationship to all this. The initial news was a shock, but she seems to be warming up to the idea already.