Thursday, June 9, 2011

Falling in the (Age) Gap


Every place I've gone in the past week has been overflowing with visibly pregnant women. Nearly all of them seem to have a child Westley's age or younger. And while I want to believe there is no one right way to have a family, I cannot help but feel like I'm getting something wrong.


My stock answer when people would ask about Rob and my having another child used to be, "We want Westley to have turned three already when his sibling arrives." (Or sometimes, depending on the rudeness of the person asking, "That's something my husband and I will discuss privately.") My ideal was children spaced about 3 1/2 years apart. They would still be close enough in age to be good playmates and would get to go to school together, but Westley would be able to do a few things for himself by the time there was a baby in the house. It seemed like a lovely plan.


But I didn't get pregnant. (Stupid me, thinking that because I got pregnant with Westley right away, it would be just as easy the second time around.) And then I did, but I didn't stay pregnant.

There's the saying that goes, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." But I can't think of that saying—especially now—without also thinking of Bethany in the movie Dogma: "What about my plans? You know? I had planned to have a family, with my husband. Wasn't that plan good enough for God? Apparently not."


I know families come in all sizes and arrangements, with all kinds of age gaps. I know people who swear by having two children as close in age as possible, and I also know siblings spaced six years apart who are the best of friends. I'm sure that if Rob and I do have another child, there will come a point where I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. But I guess I didn't realize just how invested I was in my idea of the perfect sibling age gap until I started seeing it all over the place.



Cait said...

I have six siblings. The one I'm closest to? He's twenty years older than me. Your family already is, and will only continue to be, exactly right for you all.

Melissa said...

I am closest to my sister who is eight years younger to me. I know it's tough to see that far ahead, but you are young and healthy and will most likely have another baby soon. And if you don't, you will still have a wonderful family who loves you. And slightly neurotic friends you adore you.

Anonymous said...

I'm much like Cait - the closest sibling in age to me is 8 years. We're still all thick as thieves. My sister has two boys, six years apart, and they're so close that though they have bunk beds, they often "sleepover" together on the bottom bunk futon. I know anecdotes don't mean all that much, but I just wanted to counteract the quantity of what you've been seeing lately.

Allison the Meep said...

My mom used to pressure me to have children no more than two years apart, insisting they wouldn't be friends if there were more of a gap. But I just wasn't ready. I felt like all the women in L.A. at the time, even celebrities, were pregnant. And it *constantly* made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Like I was somehow depriving Julian of a sibling and possibly a best friend.

When we had Audrey, it was 6 years and 1 month after Julian was born. The bond they have is so amazing that the age gap isn't even an issue because they love each other so much. There are things Audrey will only do for Julian, like letting him brush her teeth. Bit I literally have to sit on the girl to get that accomplished.

My mother didn't even realize at the time that her own logic was flawed, because my sister and I are 11 years apart and totally BFF. Whatever age Westley is when you have your next baby, it will be perfect for your family.

Amber @ Not Mommy said...

I feel the same was as everyone above, age gaps don't mean much when it comes to lifelong relationships between siblings.

Sadly, my brother and I aren't close...though he was born just 17 months after me. My mother actually said the opposite of Allison's, she told me NOT to have kids close together. It was hard on her and she didn't wish me the same pain.

I think I'm halfway ready now and the age difference would be 3 years which is a little close in my mind ha! I had said from the start I wouldn't have another until Alexa was in Kindergarten - oppps guess I lied again :-)

No matter what works for someone else, you have to do what's best for your health and the health of your family. Wes is going to be an amazing big brother, not matter how much bigger he is than his sibling ((hugs))

Paige said...

I SOOO hear you. My sister and I were 4 years apart and I hated it. It was way to far apart for my taste.

I had it perfectly planned so that #1 and #2 would be *almost* 3 years apart, but only 2 school years apart. And then after 4 months of trying, I got pregnant right on schedule, and I was beyond ecstatic. Then shit it the fan.

I can't decided now if I am more sad about losing the baby or all the plans I made before and while being pregnant. Still... every day something else happens that makes me think "I had a plan for this, but now I have no idea what to do." Some days are good, some days are the worst they've been since loosing the baby.

So, I am not really in a place to make you feel better, because I pretty much think this sucks proverbial ass. But, I can tell you that you are totally normal- at least in that I totally feel the same way. I have really "enjoyed" going through this with someone else. Your pain and processing has helped me greatly, at least to know that I not totally off base/loosing it.

I hate knowing that it is all out of my control. But I long for the moment when our family is complete, and I know it wouldn't be better any other way. xoxo


Your insight about not being able to imagine anything other than what evolves for you guys sounds about right. BUT, until that happens I totally feel your... void. Because Soleil was so difficult to conceive I didn't think that I would have any silly age-gap "plans" in terms of trying for #2. Well, turns out that somewhere, deep inside my plotting mind, I was trying to keep a secret from the Universe, and looks as though my 3 year age gap "plan" will not unfold. So, like you I remind myself that if/when our family grows it will do so exactly as it should. Though I have been known to finger the Universe from time to time while I wait for that to happen.

Jessica - This is Worthwhile said...

I've been wrestling with this one for months myself. No one believes me when I say I won't have another child, but the truth is I'm still very much married to the one-father, one-family idea and I can't let it go.

But you're right, families come in all variations all the time and a plan doesn't mean success. It just means you're hopeful and, really, that's ok.