Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yeah well I had four kids in two years so ner!!!

I have to admit, I kind of like telling people my kids are 19 months apart. Usually, the statement is met with an impressed response and something along the lines of "you must be busy!". And I feel a surge of pride that - yeah, I coped with that. See? We're all still here!

And now that the boys are 2 and 1, I can say "I have a 2 year old and a 1 year old" and sometimes I get a sympathetic smile and occasionally, if I'm lucky, the offer of a cup of tea and a nap.

Note to self: must remember to look a little more disheveled next time.

But sometimes, the desire to show off one's closely-born children becomes a little, let's say, competitive.

Today I found myself caught in a four-way competition conversation about how close together each of our children was born.

One woman had three kids in two and a half years. One had two young kids thirteen months apart and two older kids as well. One had each of her three children fourteen months apart... or something like that. I think I lost track.

So clearly, I lost the competition those other women had it far worse than me!

Each statement was met with expressions of awe and empathetic shaking of heads as we each contemplated the demands of coping with such trying situations.

But, having had two children close together myself, and having faced the challenges of this, I have to say, I'm impressed, but... I'm equally impressed with those parents who choose a wider spacing of sprogs.

Because, however small or large the gap between your kids, it's my belief that there are going to be challenges. Whatever the age gap, you're still going to have to deal with more than one child entering different phases of development, each with their own set of emotional, educational, growing needs. Whatever the gap, you still have more than one mouth to feed, more than one schedule to attend to, more than one person to fret about.

Whatever the gap, it's hard work.

My brother and I are ten years apart. That doesn't mean it was easy for my parents... just different. A whole different set of challenges.

What do you think about this? Do you think closer is harder or believe any age gap is hard?
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Tammy said...

I think you're right that it is just different but still hard either way.. I'm waiting for the second but some friends with their kids farther apart tell me there is challenges that way too.. the first adjusts with more resistance because they're more used to time alone with sole attention.. you drag out the diaper time.. your kids might not have as much in common so they might not entertain each other as much when older... etc... guess I'll find out (much later!).. haha..

Tara said...

My youngest sister and I are 12 years apart. Now that we are 19 and 31, the age difference is not that bad. But when she was younger, she said she felt like the only child for a long long time. Sometimes she jokes that she didn't exist for me until I was out of college...ya know because I only cared about my friends and not my 6 year old little sister. But the farther the age difference, the easier it is on the parents. My twin and I helped take care of our little sister even since she was a baby. So my parents had instant babysitters. =)

Heather said...

there are pros and cons for both are't there - closer together and you have all the nappies, needy clingy stuff but they are also a good age to play together and you get all that small child stuff over with in one foul swoop.

Sparkless said...

You are so right that no matter what the age gaps between your kids you'll face all sorts of challenges.
I think the sleep challenge is worse for parents with children born close together though.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

My two are also 19 months apart. I remember someone telling me that having them close together meant that it was much harder for the first year and much easier after that (they play together, go to the same afterschool clubs etc.). I remember when Luke was about 10 weeks old walking around the park muttering 10 weeks down, 42 to go.

Now they are 3 and 4, they do play together, quite a lot, and it does seem to be a bit easier.

Like everything, it is horses for courses. Everything has its easier and more difficult moments. x

Daddy Geek Boy said...

I have two and (no offense) but I think anyone with more than 2 is criminally insane. Plus, power to all of you cause I honestly don't know how you do it.

Mine are 2 1/2 years apart and it's haaaaaaaard.

Chic Mama said...

After having 2 and 3 19 months apart I waited over 4 years for the next and then the next. There is 13 years between 1 and 5 ( yes Daddy Geek Boy, I probably am insane)
I loved the big age gaps but overall it's hard trying to do activities that suits everyone and is age appropriate. I'm sure if I only had the older ones we would be doing different things to what we do do which is nothing basically because it's a nightmare lol. My eldest two are just under 3 years apart and they are both boys so have similar interests and most of the time get on really well. xx

Canadian Bald Guy said...

My sister is five years younger than I am and we've never, ever been close. I see siblings that are close in age and, for the most part, they seem to get along much better.

I know how difficult it must be to raise children so young all at once, but I think the payoff will be worth it in the end.

TheAlice said...

My MIL at one point had 4 under the age of 5.

Now to me, that's just insanity! But she says it was wonderful - though she had a husband who worked away most of the time and was on her own a lot. I'm not sure I could have coped...

LZ @ My Messy Paradise said...

I think it all depends on the kids, but no doubt having 2 that close together, even if they are very well-tempered is just intense!
Mine are 2.9 years apart and I found it really hard because they were in different stages of mobility, interests, etc. and you can't really reason with a 3 year old when we can't do something because her sister is too small, etc. I wanted them closer together but it didn't work out that way.

I know what you mean about the competitiveness...so silly. But I do participate in one immature discussion all the time. Like you, my only sibling, my brother, is 9 years younger than me. When my mom reminds me that she had 2 kids, I put my hand up and and remind her that she had a built in babysitter and an older child who actually wanted to entertain herself...just not the same!
The funny thing is, I have an aunt who had 4 kids under 2. Yep - 1 daughter, then twin girls a year later, then another a year later. She is the never competitive - always reminds me that having any child is tough and a lot of work.

Mwa said...

I would imagine closer would be much harder to cope with. My son was 3 1/2 when my daughter was born, and I was so glad he was already in school, and out of nappies. My daughter will be 2 1/2 when the next one is born, so she will also be starting school. I'm already finding the pregnancy harder because she is smaller. The only downside is that I'm basically "in small children" for about eight years. That is a long time. I've promised myself I can go back to work part-time when my youngest is in school, but that is another three years from now. Realistically, I will wait until September (teaching starts then) so that is a long time with no adult conversation in the day. (Most women work paid jobs in Belgium, even with babies.)

I'm rambling. Bye!

Mom2Miles said...

Like you said, whatever the gap it's hard work. I actually researched the ideal age difference between siblings before I had my second child. I know, as if I really had that much control over it! There was no real consensus, but about 3 yrs seemed to be the norm. I naively thought that my oldest would be potty trained by then & in pre-K so it wouldn't be that hard. But guess what? It still is! Different ages, different challenges.

If I Could Escape . . . said...

I've had two fairly close together and then along came my little one with a 7 and 10 year age difference. And, believe me it's not any easier either way. The challenges are still there. Right now, I'm raising one in the terrible twos stage as well as a brooding, hormonal teen! Not to mention, my poor middle son getting lost in the shuffle.

Great post!

Lady Mama said...

Tammy - I agree there are probably positives and negatives to each scenario.

Tara - That's kind of how I felt about my brother, but we've always had an amazing relationship and are still close.

Heather - yes, that's what I think. I'm really looking forward to the age where my kids start playing together (nicely!).

Sparkless - Yes the sleep challenge is really hard. Basically you end up with several years of not sleeping well. That's hard for anyone.

Brit in Bosnia - Ah I really hope it does get easier. I'm looking forward to being truly glad we had them close together.

Daddy Geek Boy - haha, I have to say, I agree. I think three kids would be completely insane. I'm in awe of those that do it.

Lady Mama said...

Chic Mama - You've really seen all sides of the equation. I've said it before but I really don't know how you do it! And I can imagine it must be hard finding activities that suit everyone.

CBG - I hope that's going to be the case for me two! I hope the payoff will be worth it.

TheAlice - That is insanity! I think people forget the difficult stuff as their kids get older.

LZ - I have similar issues with my two being at different stages. Parents really do have to learn the art of catering to different ages and personalities.

Mwa - having one in school would be a bonus, although then you have to cart the littler one around for drop offs...

Mom2Miles - Things never turn out the way you expect do they?

Karen - it's good to hear from your perspective, having had 2 close and 1 further apart.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Little L is 10 months old now. If I'd get pregnant right now... oh God, what a complete nightmare. I think I am going to wait another year. Or two. And then consider having a puppy instead. (Buying a puppy, not having it myself, of course.)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I think you're right. I always say that it's all hard. For example - my aunt had two children eight years apart and every time she went through a difficult period with her oldest, she think "and in 8 years, I get to do it all over AGAIN!"

James (SeattleDad) said...

I think just having more than one would be difficult. Good on you.

Diney said...

I guess I really must comment on this one bearing in mind I have an 18 year gap between my two!!! It is easier to have such a gap in many ways of course, as each has been like an only child, but it has had the drawback too that an only child is harder work sometimes because he/she hasn't got the companionship of a sibling for those times when they are chilling out at home, so I had to be their playmate. Also my 10 year old misses her brother so very, very much and is broken hearted when he goes back to his home in London. I wouldn't change my situation for a moment as I have an amazingly close relationship with my son and now with my little girl (most of the time!!!), so it has worked for them as they don't feel the competition often felt between siblings (being one of 5 myself!) .It has also helped to make me stay fit !

mrsrabbit said...

I have 3 kids born within 3 years.
Yes it is hard but it is also easy as they all play together. I once heard a saying from a reporter at my ex job saying " children are like dogs- if you have them all at once you can get the pack element and they learn to control themselves! " What I do hate is the comment- don't you have a tv in your house..

Libby said...

My siblings are 19 months apart.
My mom likes to tell my sister she was an accident. Cuz apparently that's how my family roles.

The hardest part was being five years older than two kids who are practically twins. It wasn't until they hit puberty and my brother turned into a "stupid boy" to my sister that I was ever able to have anyone else on my side.

Kelli said...

I must say, my baby was the hardest. My older two are 2.5 years apart, then the baby came along almost 5 years after. He was sooooo hard! It was almost like starting over, yet I still had two loud, rambunctious boys at home.

LuckyStarHeather said...

I think you're right...not easier or harder, just different. My son is 23 months. Before I had him, I thought that if we had another baby when he was 3, it would be perfect! My girlfriend has kids that are 17 months apart. I see how they interact and enjoy each other and sometimes I think I totally messed this up! That might be partially due to the fact that my son is going through the "mine, Mine, MINE!" stage at the same time as the hit, kick, bite stage - but still, I think there are harder periods for everyone and they're never the same for two people!

Happy SITS day! Hope it's okay that I commented on another post...I'm still new at the SITS thing :)


CaraBee said...

I only have one, a 2 1/2 year old and we (meaning ME as the sahm) are not even close to ready for another one. She is over the top energetic and a terribly demanding little lady. I can't even begin to imagine having a newborn now.

I have heard the line about first year is hard and easy thereafter and I think there is some truth to that, but you're right no matter how you do it, you face challenges.

Tortuga said...

My two are 19 months apart. My best friend's kids are 9 years apart. Each kid still has his/her own challenges. I wouldn't say either one is easier. Perhaps having an older kid that can help with the baby is nice, but by the time that baby becomes a toddler all the nice is gone. Those two fight just as much as my two. At least my two were of a close enough age they played together and liked it!

lizgizzy said...

I'm an only child, but I watched my friends with siblings, with all sorts of variation in age gaps, fight, and play, and disgree, and tattle, and do all the things that sibs do. The only time that I think it matters, is when there is a really big gap. I had a friend that was 18 when her little brother was born. She's more like a parent to him, than a sister. But being in a family can be tough and wonderful no matter what.