I always imagined having kids close in age. I also imagined marrying Christopher Atkins and growing up to look just like a cross between Brooke Shields and Kristi McNichol. Alas, life does not always deliver just exactly what I imagined.
On the subject of child spacing, what do you think of having one kid very much older than the other? I’ve got a four-year-old, the clock is ticking if we’re gonna press reset on the whole baby thing and do it again.
Tell me having kids 5-6-7 years apart is JUST FINE. I should also note that while Ava was super high-maintenance for like the first 2 years (all boob, zero bottles, zero pacifiers, OHMYGOD was that hard), she’s like no maintenance now. Plays independently for hours, doesn’t require discipline of any kind…she’s so good that other people brag about her, no joke. I am pretty legitimately scared that a second baby wouldn’t be like her.
Amy – From AmyWest.co (Yup. That Amy West. She has a new site!)
I’m not one of those women that thinks I know much about parenting. But I think I know a little bit about me. And I think Amy and I might be cut from the same parenting cloth. So, I feel wholly qualified to tell Amy what to do with her life.
I was almost eight months pregnant when it dawned on me that starting over might be the dumbest thing I have ever done. I was on the couch as I hollered up the stairs “Just jump in the shower, Em, put your pajamas on, brush your teeth and bring a book down to read.”
From the top of the steps she hollered back at me “I can just tuck myself in, Mom!” I didn’t let her. But it was tempting. In that moment I realized I might be out of my mind. I had an incredibly independent little person. She was kind and well adjusted and self-sufficient. And I was starting over. With a baby.
In the months since Lucy was born I have realized that having my kids six years apart was perfect for me because of the way that I choose to parent. Without entering in to the nature vs nurture debate let me just say that I think a kid is the kid that they were destined to be for the most part. But I do think that the way that I parent can foster certain qualities like independence.
I breastfeed on demand. I co-sleep. I practice gentle discipline and I talk to my kids like they are small people. It’s time consuming in the beginning. And I can not imagine doing it with more than one small kid at a time.
I know that it can be done. I see a picture of a friend nursing two babies and the part of me that longs to envision myself as an Earth Mother feels a certain pang of jealousy. But then the part of me that loves a good Pinot Noir knows that I couldn’t possibly have a glass of wine and juggle two babies. I have had to resort to the stemless glass as it is with just the one.
When Em comes barreling into the house after school and I am trapped under the baby nursing her down for her 35th ten minute nap of the day I don’t feel guilty when I say “Shhhh, grab yourself a snack and get your homework started.” I hear her dragging the step stool over to the counter and I smile. She is embracing the independence. She is blossoming in the open space that I might have felt guilty about pushing her in to any earlier.
I can’t tell you that having kids 6 or 7 years apart will be just fine. But I can say that now that I have done it this way I can’t imagine doing it any other way. I feel obligated to point out that I am more than well aware that many women successfully parent two kids close in age.
But you asked me what I think.
And I think if you like to let your baby be a baby for a “long time” and you have a tendency to let Guilt eat you alive the 5+ year age gap is the way to go. My Big Girl was ready to be a Big Girl. And I was ready to be attached at the hip to a baby again. (Or at the boob, or at the boob that hangs down to my hip.)