When meeting a new co-worker, acquaintance or mom at the park, we typically exchange “mom stats.” Mine sound something like this: “Born and raised Wisconsinite, studied and met my best friends at UW Eau Claire, work in advertising, husband runs a freelance business and stays home part-time with the kids. Ingrid is five, Louie just turned one and our dog Harper is the best.”
More often than not, initially questions are around the kids’ age gap. For example, “Did you plan for them to be four years apart? How do you like it?” At first I was surprised at the frequency of the comments because for our family, the age difference makes sense. I never even consider their age difference to be so wide. Granted, questions and comments are rooted in curiosity, not judgment.
Even though it’s the only one I’ve experienced, here are four reasons to love the four-year age difference:
Witnessing my first child transition from baby to (little kid to big kid) and then finally embrace being a Big Sister
Our daughter sort of understood pregnancy and looked forward to the weekly report of which produce item the baby resembled. Not only did I have a husband who was along for the pregnancy ride, but it was touching to have another interested party who tagged along to a few doctor appointments.
Observing wholehearted sibling love
Marriage taught me to be more vulnerable and trusting. Having my daughter taught me about unconditional, fierce love. But witnessing the pure, joyous love between my daughter and son warms my heart. She truly is obsessed with him, they are each other’s favorite person, they reciprocate each other’s love.
Using everything in my parenting toolbox
The gap allows my husband and I to use every tool in our parenting tool box as our daughter is fairly self-sufficient and our son is dependent on us for every need. It’s nice to dedicate time and space to the baby knowing our oldest can buckle her own seat-belt, get dressed, go to the bathroom and communicate needs and
desires. At times, I feel like we’re speaking two different parenting languages at the same time.
Surrender, trust your gut and be present
During my first pregnancy, I almost felt like an observer instead of an active participant. I was glued to my weekly emails, books and second-guessing symptoms and kicks. The second time, not so much — I was comfortable in my skin and my pregnancy and, even though my husband would disagree, I infused some joy in the process and really listened to my body. I worked from home more and made no apologies for those rare times when I had simply had enough. The clichés are true — the days are short and the years are fast. With my son, I’m not looking around the corner to the next milestone but rather enjoy where he is and accept it completely.