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 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?
13 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why I Love Our Wide-Gapped Family”
I am not complaining or whining, but in a funny way, I am a little jealous of you because I never was able to have the children I so wanted. But I remind myself that if God wanted me to have children, then it would have been. So, I have accepted my family for what it is also. It is just me, my wonderful husband, and our four legged children, and I am thankful for them all, and I am so happy for you and your blessings. I think that is why I love your blog. I love hearing about your two girls, watching them grow up, and your family life. 🙂
I’m so sorry to hear that you were not able to have the family you hoped for, but I think it’s awesome that you are also able to find the blessings in the situation you find yourself in!
(And I feel honored that you’ve “adopted” my family!!)
Oh, goodness. What do I love about our own unique family? That is a GREAT question. I need to think on that. I LOVE our family but why? Guess I know what I will be mulling over for the next few days. I will get back to you!
I’m looking forward to hearing any thoughts you come up with in the days ahead.;)
I can relate to you. In both ways because I have 5 kids and 16 days ago they were 2,4,6,8, and 11 so they are for the most part 2 years apart and there are some downfalls to it:) they all fight like crazy but the ones who are 5 or so years older get along great with the ones who are so much younger then they are they are very nurturing and protective of them. but the ones who are 2 years apart fight like crazy:) I love my family though because there are so many personalities. I always think it’s funny when people say oh you have a favorite. I’ve realized I don’t because they each bring something else to the table that none of the other ones do..
So true – each child brings such a unique personality to the family, and each one is a blessing!
So good, Kendra! What a special family you have!
As far as my family, I love it when we can do things all together, like play ball tag in the basement when everyone including Rhea is running around having fun. But I also love it when my oldest three will go off on some adventure like digging for dinosaur bones outside, or Noelle and Malia playing Little House on the Prarie, or Malia playing babies with Rhea or Elliott reading to one of his younger sisters. I agree: there are difficult things about every possible combination of ages and distances, but I am so thankful that I get to see the bonds being formed between them and the love they have for each other. And I really enjoy the one on one times with each of my kids: we have a rotating ‘date night’ schedule going with all of our kids, so one of us takes one of the kids out on a date almost every week. It has been so good for me to get to see them as the individuals they are, and enjoy their unique personalities.
Thanks for sharing!
That sounds awesome, Becky! And I love the ways in which you are being intentional about getting in that one on one time with each of your kids!
Hi Kendra, I can not agree more. I have 9 children. My stepdaughter is 25 and the other 8 (that I had in 11 years) are 14, 12,11,9,7,5,4,2. We also have 2 beautiful African boys who are informal brothers in our household. I would never have imagined that a family like this is even humanly possible, even more so with me and my husband in the driver seat! God is good and I believe, really want us to trust Him as the perfecter of our lives and faith. Blessings. Gerlinde (South Africa)
Thought about it some more and here are some things I love about our 5-kids-in-less-than-6-years family. First of all, I adore each of their unique and individual personalities and looks. It is amazing to me to think that we are the parents of each of them and yet they look and act so differently. Some families have kids that look so similar but ours are so different, or so I have been told over and over again. I love that we can play games together, like baseball or soccer or others where having more people is just better. I love that they always have someone to play with, even if they get tired of each other, they can just move along to the next sibling. Practically, I think it is great that when we buy something for the boys or the girls, it will get used well since I am not just buying for one child. Clothes don’t even go into storage for the next child, they just get moved from one drawer to the other. I love that I get to teach the boys how to relate to girls and they can practice on their sisters. I love that I get to teach the girls how to relate to boys and they can practice on their brothers. I love that they enjoy doing the same things so if we go somewhere together, all the kids like it (at least most of the time). I love all the noise and laughter and togetherness I see in them. It makes my heart smile when I see all of them hanging out together in one room enjoying each other. I love that my 9-year old son loves his 4-year old sister so much he will sit and cut out bride pictures for her. I love that my 10-year old son enjoys giving piggy back rides to all his siblings. I even enjoy going out with all of them and hearing people ask if they are all mine because it leads to great conversations about how children are a gift, not a nuisance, and they can and should be loved and enjoyed. So much to love about my family. And I always stand back in amazement that God has given these to us for this time because they are such a blessing and we are so undeserving. Thanks for getting me to think about this, Kendra.
I love your response, Chantelle! Your family is such a gift, and each one is so unique! I’m so thankful for you that God has given you these five wonderful children! Anika thinks your house is the next best thing to heaven! She came home the other day, and said, “I would play outside ALL THE TIME if I lived there, and had so many brothers and sisters!”
That’s hilarious! One of the other perks to having a “large” family is that it doesn’t bother me in the least when we have a whole bunch more kids over to play. Some people are easily overwhelmed by the numbers but we seem to love it. So glad Anika had fun!