If all goes well in 2019, we will be adding a new baby to our family —a new little one will be joining the clan right as our current youngest enters kindergarten.
On one hand, I’m all like, “OMG what I have done, I was thisclose to tasting freedom!” And on the other hand, how could I not be excited about another baby to snuggle with?
There are a lot of things that could be said about how terrible this will be (why did I think starting over just when I was “free” was a good idea?!?), but on the flip side, there are a lot of things that could be said about the advantage of having a big age gap between my kids. Aside from not having had any control over the fact that I miscarried twice, which is why the big gap exists in the first place, I think this will be a welcome change of pace from my past years as a frenzied, barely-surviving mother who had four kids in six years.
If we have a baby this year, I will become the mother of a newborn, a 5-year-old, a 7-year-old, a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old. That means that when my oldest is 21, I will still have a 10-year-old at home. That means when we are touring colleges for my oldest to enter, I will have a first-grader, which is definitely unsettling to think about. But regardless, sometimes our family ends up looking a little different than what we once imagined, and that’s OK. Instead of focusing on all of the things that could be looked at as drawbacks about the situations, *cough what was I thinking cough*, I’m choosing to focus on some of the positives.
Here are a few of things I am looking forward to if we have a baby with a large age group between our other kids:
One-on-one time with the baby
I had exactly two years alone with my first daughter, and after that, all bets were off. I just kept having kids and any alone time I had to snuggle and enjoy my newborn had to happen at 3 A.M. Those years of having a clan of little kids were fun, but I have to admit, mama is tired. I’m older now and I’m just not interested in running myself ragged like I did before.
In those years, I was focused on just surviving and making it through. But adding a newborn to the mix while the rest of the kids will be at school means that I will actually have a quiet house to really rest, recover, and enjoy having a newborn again. Who knows, maybe I’ll do something really crazy and actually take that advice about sleeping when the baby sleeps…
Having an extra set of hands
I was raised as the oldest girl in a big family with lots of siblings and lots of cousins, so trust me when I say that I have no intention of enslaving my older daughters into constantly being responsible for the baby. I have been there and done that and am overly-conscious about making sure they never have that burden.
That being said, though, having older kids in the house with a baby will be a whole different ballgame than having four kids six and under. Having four other children who can actually be trusted to watch the baby without hurting themselves or others while I ran to the bathroom or started dinner or (gasp) even make a phone call? Game-changer. And don’t even get me started on how wonderful it will be to have an extra set of hands to help me carry groceries in, grab a diaper bag, or hold hands in the parking lot. Honestly, I’m starting to wonder why I didn’t do this earlier.
Being smarter about parenting
I had my first baby at 22 and had four kids by age 28. Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of time during those years to sit and reflect about my life or parenting. The majority of that era was based on pure survival. And while I don’t have any regrets about those years and I know that I did my best, I also can admit that I’m sure I made plenty of mistakes along the way. I know I did things like stress about stuff that really didn’t matter (for instance, why was I so insistent that Happy Meals were the devil with my first child?) and made my life much more difficult than it needed to be.
This time around, I’m going to be a whole lot smarter. I’m going to rest when I need to rest, spend less time worrying about work, and get help when I need help. I’m not a better mother if I’m constantly stressed and exhausted, contrary to what I seemed to think in the past.
Enjoying the last moments
If this baby comes to be, I know with 100% certainty that it will be my last baby. (And I mean it for real this time!) With all of my other babies, and especially after having two miscarriages, I always felt a sense of incompletion about our family. Some people talk about “just knowing” when they are done having babies, and I can honestly say that I have never had that feeling. Until now. No matter what happens, I know that we are done after this attempt, and that will help me enjoy the “last” moments with my baby—and look forward to all the new ones as my kids grow older.
There may not be such a thing as the “perfect” age gap between having kids, but this experience of trying to grow our family, going through losses, and realizing that sometimes we just have to go with the flow and look for the positive in our situation, has helped me to see that in the end, we already have the perfect family.