I wouldn’t change a thing about my kids. I love them each for the quirky, complicated, beautiful people they are. I’ve been a mother for more years than I have not been a mother because I had my first daughter very young. My second daughter was born five years later, and my son was born five years after that. My mother-in-law joked when my son was born that in five years, I better take a long trip unless I want a fourth child.
The funny thing is that I didn’t plan to have five years between each of my children. In fact, only my second daughter was strategically planned and my other two kids were wonderful surprises. I know everything worked out exactly the way it should have. Yet, if I had to do it all over again, I would make one minor adjustment: I would have had my children closer in age.
1. Sleepless nights seem to last FOREVER.
My first baby was a breeze. When she napped, I did. That all changed with my second. Once I finally got her down to sleep, I either had to take my firstborn to school, pick her up, help with homework or get her to a practice.
This only increased exponentially with my last-born. Then I would get a baby down to sleep only to be woken up by a scared preschooler, then get back to sleep and be abruptly awakened by a screaming baby. Once I fed baby and got him to sleep again, a few minutes later, the sun would come up, my alarm would rattle my brain and I’d have to get my older kids to school, bleary-eyed and utterly exhausted. Had they all been very young or a little older, their sleep cycles would have likely synced and they would either be in the baby/toddler stage or blissfully out of it.
2. Incompatible activities drive me mad.
Having to juggle big kid birthday parties with a baby on your hip is no fun at all. And neither is attending Mommy and Me classes with a preteen. As they grow, an age discrepancy means trying to find activities for teens and school-age children, which is a very difficult thing to do.
3. Different schools cause unnecessary stress.
Having to drop your kids off at different schools each day and adhere to different (often opposing) schedules just ups the chaos of the week. I have repeatedly thought how much easier it would be to have all my kids in the same school.
Also, from kindergarten to high school, it helps siblings to know their big sister or brother is there, too. The upside is that there was not much sibling rivalry as they naturally all had their own set of friends and activities.
4. A one-shot diaper deal sounds pretty awesome.
I always thought that I couldn’t deal with two (or god forbid three) kids in diapers at the same time, BUT if that had happened, I would have had them all potty trained around the same time, instead of rationing out unending potty training sessions every five years.
5. My kids got a different version of me.
My oldest daughter (who I had when I was practically a child myself) got the mom with most patience for sure, but she also got the mom who was just learning to know herself and stand up for herself. My youngest got the version with much experience and more confidence but less time. My daughter in the middle got a mix of the two.
6. There’s an age gap.
There is a 10-year difference between my oldest (millennial) and youngest (Gen Z). Many times, my son will look to my oldest daughter as out of touch with his world and my daughter will forget how she felt at his age as she mentally shakes her finger and think this youngin’ is just too much. But other times, they are two peas in a pod, happily playing "Pokémon Go" with vigor and camaraderie.
7. I am in the 19th straight year of having my children in school.
Yes, it's been 19 years of homework, project, parent-teacher meetings, school plays, bake sales and uniforms! My oldest has graduated college and my youngest just graduated from middle school. I still have four years to go until high school is done, and (gasp) eight more until college is over for all of my kids. If they were in the same age bracket, they would have all finished and I’d have three young working adults (and extreme college loans!).
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On a positive note, the big upside to having had a child even five years was that I always had a lot of special time with each new baby while the older kid(s) went to school. I also enjoyed a prolonged era of always having a baby in the house. Spacing out children, and even having children at all, is a deeply unique experience and one that I truly believe works out just the way it should be in the end.