Children Spaced in Age
This older post by Clover Lane about having children spaced in age has been popping into my thoughts lately. I discovered it years ago and reposted then, and it has proven to be oh so true with my own children. Any parent with children that may not be close in age can appreciate this mother’s wisdom (and so glad I rediscovered her blog!)
You will enjoy this baby SO much. But, you will not be sitting in a rocking chair in a quiet room, looking like a Pottery Barn Kids ad. Instead, depending on the demeanor of your baby, you will either be constantly wearing an extra appendange on your body in form of a baby-filled sling, or be adding C batteries to your grocery list every week for your Graco swing.
You will not be pondering over what a cute outfit to dress the baby in today, instead you will be grabbing what is clean from the laundry basket. As that baby gets older, you will not be sitting on the floor for hours watching him or her stack blocks and thinking ‘what a genius’. They will explore their world without someone constantly breathing down their back, which turns out to be a better way anyways.
You will have to relearn some things. I had completely forgotten how impossible it is to give an infant a bath and of course, you will have a whole new set of instructions from the nurses on umbilical cord care. They apparently change that every year or so. The immunizations are all different too…like they added 75 more. But you are 34. You are not afraid to speak your mind. Take advantage of your confidence. You earned it.
You might not feel like there is enough hours in the day to get all that you need finished. Although you will reassure your kids that there is enough love to go all around, as you lay in bed at night, (usually with a baby attached to you), you will tear up, because you will feel like maybe there is, in fact, not enough love to pass around. You will think of who you didn’t hug today, or if you said anything but ‘Don’t do this, Do that, Can you please’.
It will eat you up sometimes, usually when you are going on 4 hours of broken sleep. Your mind can play tricks on you and anxiety will fill in the empty spots. Don’t do that to yourself. That friend I talked about yesterday? I asked her once, when she was adopting her seventh, if she ever felt like she didn’t have enough to go around. And she said, “I concentrate on what I DO give my kids, not on what I don’t.” Good advice. Take it. Full tummies, warm bed. Start there.
You will have some harried moments, but remember those moments…sometimes there will be nothing you can do about them, and other times you will have to think, “What can I do to change this…it’s not working for us.
I remember once complaining and complaining about this travel soccer I had my daughter in. Her friends would convince her every year to try out and then she’d beg me to let her. My husband always thought it was a good idea, too, as she was pretty decent at it. But it was ME who had to drag all these kids around, nursing the baby in the middle of a cornfield in the hot sun, not watching a minute of anything, being crabby all the way there and back, all of us hungry and thirsty, the baby fussy. It ended up my daughter didn’t really like soccer that much, but just didn’t know how to resist the friend-pressure. Some of my lowest points of parenting occured because of that stress. Don’t do that to yourself.
Get rid of all that extra stuff, and just stick with the important stuff. If you don’t know what the important stuff is, I can reassure you that it’s not 2nd grade football skills training, or travel dance competitions. These were all invented by people with much less children than you have now, and for many other reasons I won’t go into here. My point is this: Don’t fight this adjustment. Accept that you will have to make changes, but let me reassure you, that you will ask yourself, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” You will grow closer as a family and less stressed as a mother. Embrace the old-fashioned values of a big family. A swing, some grass, and a good book is all kids need in the entertainment department. It would be more than the majority of kids in the world have. Always keep in mind ‘global’ parenting and ‘historic’ parenting…they make the expectations place on us laughable.
Besides that great gift, you will be giving your older children the gift of independence. Trust me, it was time anyways. They will learn some lessons and be better for it. If you don’t have time to check for homework and they didn’t either, they will learn it’s their responsibility. They might have to hear the word ‘no’ more often, if driving across town to play at a friends house for two hours doesn’t work with the baby’s nap. They will have to take care of themselves more, and be doted on less. You will kick yourself for not doing some of this earlier, and be surprised at how much you were holding them back from some really necessary lessons and experiences. Count yourself lucky…some parents wait till NEVER. It doesn’t turn out so good 20 years later.
Now I’ll get to the best part of all. Your older children with that baby… your heart will explode with the amount of love and tenderness they will show.
Get them involved right away. They will be your salvation in terms of managing this large plate you have in front of you. When they think you are not aware of their prescence, tell your husband how much you noticed so-and-so loves their baby sister or brother, and how much help they give. They will step up to the task unbelievably. Teach them how to hold the baby, how to swaddle, how to change a diaper (wet, or course). Have them run and get a fresh outfit, and don’t cringe at the color combo. Who cares. When the baby gets older, they are the best entertainers. You will never have to occupy that baby’s time. Set him out in the family room in his jumpy seat and the hoopla will get him good and tired. Don’t ever feel guilty for asking them for help. Give them new responsibilites. Ask one of them to make lunch, even if it’s just peanut butter on Ritz. They will love to do it for you if you thank them so much and brag about them. Don’t say “the baby”, say OUR baby. The gift you are giving them is priceless. They are learning how to care for your grandchildren. That is truly awesome and worth any inconveniece or adjustment that this little surprise threw your way.
One more thing. With my older three, I couldn’t wait to “the next”. The next stage, the next word, the next tooth… With this little guy, you will do the opposite. You will bawl at every stage. Be prepared.
You are not crazy. It’s completely normal. Birthdays are the worse. Have tissues handy.”