When my husband and I made the decision to have our boys close in age (19 months apart, to be exact) it wasn’t one made lightly. My older sister and I are also a year and a half apart and, being the younger sibling, I never knew a life before her. Similarly, she expresses that she doesn’t recall life before I came around either. We’re very close and have been this way since childhood. I love having a “built-in” best friend and confidante and, though we’ve had our differences over the years, she’s one of my favorite people in the world. My husband has a brother three years younger and, while the gap is a tad wider, they are just as close.
I only hoped our boys would share the same kind of close-knit relationship. All too often you hear of siblings who don’t get along with one another – where they are more like strangers, or acquaintances, than family. Stories such as that made me all the more determined to foster the kind of closeness my husband and I both shared with our siblings.
When our youngest son was born the adjustment was difficult for everyone. Throughout the pregnancy, I was racked with guilt that we were somehow “taking something” from our first son. He had known being an only child for this first year and a half, and I wondered if he would understand and appreciate why we had given him a brother. I tried to remind myself that a sibling is the best gift you can give a child. But once the baby was born, my feelings of guilt didn’t go away immediately. He was too young to understand who this new person was in the house – all he knew was that mommy could no longer give him her undivided attention 100% of the time as I had in the past. Ugh! It saddens me to think about those rough first few months. My husband really stepped up big time to spend more time with our first son, one-on-one… taking him out for quality, dad-son time… keeping him busy and active with his own fun activities and experiences. However, I still felt that the new baby had somehow robbed our first son of something special.
Our newborn baby did little else but sleep and eat and lay still so, to our oldest son, he was no different than one of his stuffed animals – interesting to look at initially, but otherwise boring and meaningless. However, as the baby grew older and more alert, our oldest son began to take a new interest in him. At this point, he was now smiling and giggling at his older brother’s silly antics – so now he would try to make his little brother laugh all the time. Then, when our “baby” became mobile, he was even more fun! First crawling, then slowling toddling around – he could finally keep up with his big brother and that he did. Today they are 1 and nearly 3 years old respectively – and the house is filled with their screams and peals of laughter throughout the day. Our toddler can now “run” so he is really a force to be reckoned with – and the two have become almost inseparable. This past weekend our oldest son referred to his brother as his “best friend” and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I asked him: “Why is he your best friend?” His response was: “Because I love him.”
Even though it was hard in the beginning, I knew then that we had absolutely made the right decision. If given the opportunity to do it over, we would not space their age gap any differently!