My older brother and I were born 14 months apart. I don’t know how my parents did it but from what I remember, growing up we were in each other’s face a lot. My husband went through the same with his older brother. As younger siblings we were told life was luxurious, coddled, pampered, but only for us. Our older siblings had it tough we were told every day, and that’s why fate had to even the score out! You can guess what happened next!
My hubby and I were married without children for 7 lovely short years. It was the glory days of spontaneous fun and travel. And then collective family guilt and peer pressure finally got to us and it was time to have kids. Nature of course took her course, and we ended up first with one child and then 4 years and 11 months later, the second. The exactness of their gap is very important to me every time I find myself justifying the age gap to intrusive Aunties and judgmental Uncles.
“Don’t you think 5 years is too long a gap?”
“Well, they are almost 5 years apart. Yes, it would have been ideal if they had been 3 years apart.”
Ha! As if it was in our control!
From One Child To Two
Having a second child changed our family dynamics. From a ruling majority of two parents and one child we switched overnight to occasional bipartisanship and constant anarchy.
It was a tough transition for my older one. From being an ONLY child to an OLDER sibling, from slow mornings in her bed sipping her milk to learning to defend herself from daily pokes in the eye. From being the baby of the family to the big girl the baby looked up to. Over years she has got used to being tackled, sat on, licked, wrestled, and smiled at a little bundle who didn’t know the difference between a kiss and a spit.
My little one developed skills far beyond what milestones dictated. She learnt to socialize with older kids because she was trying to keep up with her older sister. Her competitive streak set in early too simply because there was someone to compete with.
Let’s face it, your first-born is your petridish. You’ve read all the books because you have the time to read but really, you know zero. It’s like your first pancake that that gets all wrinkled and burnt at the edges. But it’s your first (pancake!) so it’s crispy and delicious regardless. You do better the second time around, and the more time between the two the better you will be at it. I’m sure there’s a tipping point in there, I would look it up if I had the time. That’s the reason my younger one is growing up with a more flexible set of rules. Where my older one wasn’t allowed to watch TV for the first 3 years of her life, my younger one was swiping on her sister’s tablet as soon as she was able to sit up and announce – “I want.”
Milestones Hit Too Early
Then there’s the stuff that keeps me awake at night, milestones I am not proud of. Like yelling at my kids the first time. The younger one has already heard it all from her older sister. And learnt to ignore it. Another tough milestone – mean friends! Her older sister has already wised her up to this reality. I still remember her advice to her little sister,
“Remember if they’re mean to to you, they’re NOT your friends.”
Siblings help make real life seem less scary because you learn from each other before you head out into the real world. You get really good at calling dibs…or losing! Managing conflict is a skill that comes with the territory. We may have never known this if we’d stopped at one but fate had two in store for us. Even the almost 5-year gap between my kids works….most days. All I can say is that life isn’t boring!