Age Gap Between Children
I think it’s about time I wrote a bit about my children and how there is such a big age gap between them. Although it’s not that difficult to figure out why there are so many years between them, I still get comments and questions all the time.
What is the age gap then and why it is so? Well there are twelve years between them. I had my son Kyle back in December 2002, three weeks before I turned twenty three. It wasn’t like I was a teenage mum or anything, but it’s fair to say it wasn’t all planned out. I wasn’t married to Kyle’s dad and we weren’t even living together. I was still at home with my folks and he was with his.
I recall (as it was almost seventeen years ago now!) being three months pregnant before I actually realised I was expecting. I had lots of strange pregnancy symptoms but none of which were particularly ‘textbook’. So surely it couldn’t be true! Well, actually it could. The strange sickness feeling I got all day (not in the morning) without actually being sick wasn’t in the textbook. And the weird ‘period’ I thought I had. Plus this ‘metallic’ taste. I never heard of any of those symptoms on the soaps!
So to cut an incredibly long (and difficult) story short, I went on to have my baby boy despite being in a bit of a rocky relationship. In fact that relationship failed less than two years later but not without trying to make things work.
That was a hard title to have. I felt like I’d let Kyle down, I felt embarrassed and I felt like a failure. Back then I was working full time and rented quite a nice three bedroom detached house. I even passed my driving test. But there was always this massive hole in my life. No family days out, no family holidays and no family meal times.
At the time I was living up north. I was originally from the south but my parents moved when I was seventeen years old and of course I went too. But at heart I didn’t really feel like it was my home and at the age of twenty nine, I met Darrel. Online. Yep, online! But not on a dating site – I’ve never entered that world. It was just some social media site that my friend got me to join. Darrel also happened to be living in West London – not an ideal distance. But fast forward another year, I had moved back down south and we were living together. Another year later, we had bought a house. Then the following year we got married. Then Eva came along four days before I turned thirty five. Phew! Now this feels like family life..
New Kid on the Block
Of course it would have been nice for Kyle to have grown up with a sibling. But he was an only child. However he did get lots of attention. My parents (my mum especially) were always very close to him and would take him on holiday and shower him with gifts. The family on his dad’s side are quite big and he would get plenty of attention there too. Then when Darrel came along, Kyle had gained new grandparents and extra family. He didn’t do too badly!
When I bought Eva back from the hospital, Kyle was twelve. So still a child, and not quite at the teenage bit. He still wanted attention when his grandparents came to visit. But to be fair, he did acknowledge that he felt like that and everyone did their best to involve him.
I also got a kitten just before Eva came along which was just perfect for Kyle. He created a bond with the cat (Millie – in fact she is like a child to me too!) and it seemed to just work out well. Millie sleeps in his room and it’s extra company for him.
A Teenager and a Toddler
As Eva got older she doted on her big brother. She wanted to do what he was doing and be part of his life. As Eva got older, so did Kyle. Her first years were when Kyle was going through his teenage ones. We saw lots of huge changes. Probably the hardest for me. Not only was Eva going through all her milestones, plus massive toddler tantrums that we were constantly addressing, Kyle was changing. He was spending less time with us as a family and my concern was his mental health.
As soon as his voice broke, all communication ceased. I now officially had a teenager in the house. He’d gone from seeking attention and being hyperactive, to quiet and grumpy. Yep, Kevin the Teenager! As time has gone on (he’s just turned sixteen) he has lost all interest in his little sister (although he didn’t have that much to begin with!). But he is happy. He is happy doing his own thing and socialising with his (and our) friends. Plus he is incredibly academic. He just doesn’t have time for Eva!
How does Eva feel? She loves him! She’s now four years old and still wants to be with her big brother. I guess I can’t ask for more than that.
Large Age Gap Pros
In my experience (and considering mine have different dads), this is my list of advantages of having a big age gap:
- More attention spent on both children from day one. When the second comes along, the eldest is doing their own thing so you can still focus on your baby/toddler
- You’re more patient with the second child with experience and age
- Days out can be cheaper if the eldest doesn’t want to come!
- You don’t have to get both of the children ready in the morning, as the eldest is independent
- The eldest can now help out around the home (when bribed!)
- You’re more relaxed with the second child, as you’ve been through all this before
- Less sibling rivalry as they have different interests
Large Age Gap Cons
- You may not have toys or clothes (if they are the same sex) to hand down, which means buying new
- All your baby equipment might need to be bought again – safety gates, steriliser, pushchair etc
- You have to go through it all again! Potty training, sleepless nights, the school run!
- Your children will have very little in common with each other – games, toys, the way they communicate
- Days out will either be centred around your youngest or your eldest. It’ll be difficult to please both
- The dynamics in the house will change
- Just as your responsibilities lessen as your eldest becomes more independent, you then start again with your next child! (So you have a wait a while longer before you can actually go supermarket shopping alone)
I’d say the biggest concern I had, was having a dysfunctional family when Kyle was growing up. Then him seeing Eva having a mum and a dad as a family unit. I didn’t want him to think he’d missed out on having that. However, he hasn’t expressed any thoughts over it.
All we can do is include him where appropriate. He won’t come to the park with us, but he likes eating out and gaming with his mates. We have to make sure both of the children are happy doing the things they enjoy.
What are your experiences?