Our girls are five and a half years apart in age.
This used to bother me a lot. I never wanted our family to be this way – I wanted a “normal” family, which, in North America, means having kids exactly every two years, bonus points to those who could squeeze them even closer.
We never had the luxury of choosing. I spent many years feeling anxious, depressed, and jealous of other people’s families. Ben always kept telling me, “Our family will be what our family will be. We’ll think it’s normal, whatever ends up happening, and it will be good.”
Yep, good. And then I’d cry myself to sleep another night over yet another negative pregnancy test.
We finally found out that Kaylia was on the way, just before Anika’s fifth birthday. (It’s funny how that doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but at the time, it seemed to take FOREVER.)
But these days, Ben is right – our family is what it is.
There are still times when it’s easy to focus on the negatives to having such a wide age difference between our girls, but lately, I’ve been getting comments from people about how nice it must be. And they’re right – there are totally benefits to our family being this way, even though I would never have chosen it, in that imaginary world where I always get my own way.
So. For anyone who’s waiting for a baby that isn’t coming, or worrying about how family will work out in the future, or thinking about how close in age you want to have your kids, here is the perspective I wish people had shared with me, back in those tearful years:
1) We have a built-in babysitter.
In two years, Anika will be old enough to stay home with Kaylia, while Ben and I date up a storm. We have big plans for our impending freedom. Okay, not really, and we’re not going to take advantage of Anika or anything, but we are pretty excited about how this will give us more flexibility in our schedule.
And until then, Anika is incredibly helpful with Kaylia. She loves being in charge, and will get Kaylia’s snack ready, gets her dressed in the morning, helped with potty training, and many other things that make my life easier. She doesn’t always feel like doing these things, but most of the time, she is very willing to help out. Leaving Kaylia in Anika’s care is a wonderful and natural thing around here already, and I love seeing the bond they have.
2) We have a built-in entertainer.
All those people who say your kids have to be two years apart in order to play well together may not be completely accurate. Our girls play together from morning till night, and Anika is completely amazing with entertaining Kaylia. Kaylia drinks in everything her big sister does, and Anika was a born leader, so she looooooves having someone to boss around. They do fight like crazy, but Ben keeps reminding me that most siblings do, and they love each other very much in between fights to make up for it.
Interestingly enough, my sister is 5 1/2 years older than me, and when I was a kid, I was completely in awe of her. I thought there had never been anyone who could sew Barbie clothes like her, or make Kleenx flowers for our imaginary weddings the way she could. I thought she was amazing.
It is fun for me to see Kaylia looking up to her sister the way I look up to mine.:)
3) We get very interesting questions from random strangers.
Oh, the things people have said to me about our children.
“Are they both yours?”
“Girl, what happened to you??” (Said my black hairdresser, who couldn’t figure out why on earth I would wait so long between having babies.)
People feel the freedom to ask all kinds of questions, and then I get to share all over again about how God blessed our family with our Miracle Baby, and I got to watch the most incredible bond grow between Anika and this sister she prayed for.
4) We get beautiful one-on-one time.
I loved that special time with Anika before Kaylia was born. I read books to her for hours and hours. She had my undivided attention. I soaked in every single moment of her growing and changing, because I had no distractions.
And now, as Anika gets a little older, she wants more independence, so she goes off to her room to play or read sometimes, or goes to a friend’s house to play, and I get to spend special time with Kaylia.
Basically, it comes down to the fact that Ben is right, once again: “Our family will be what our family will be.”
We love the way our family is, but I’m sure there are many beautiful, awesome things about having kids close in age, as well. I think it’s amazing that no matter what kind of family we have, there are blessings and gifts to enjoy. There will also be hard things about any kind of family, but I’m so very thankful that God is giving me the clarity to see the good that is coming out of doing family this way, even if we didn’t choose it.
And really, wouldn’t it be kinda boring if we all had identical families?
What do you enjoy most about your own unique family?