It’s been a week for contemplation indeed, the result most likely, of the safe and ever so happy arrival of my newest little nephew into this world. He is a dote (meaning absolutely divine, for those of you not too well versed in the Irish colloquial tongue) and the second child for my sister and her lovely husband. His arrival presents them with an 18 month age gap between siblings, leaving some to suggest they have their work cut out for them and that perhaps family planning had taken a short vacation around the time of conception, but I would beg to differ. I would say that they really couldn’t have planned it any better, if indeed they had.
What age gap to leave between siblings is a hot topic in some circles and can spark quite the debate, especially I find, when I shriek in horror any time someone mentions they’ll be bringing a newborn into the world of a 3-year-old. People do tend to be genuinely mystified by my reaction and so an explanation and some quick digging of my foot from my mouth is usually required, or rather the other way around though, foot first then explanation.
I come to you directly from the hell that was a sibling 3 year age gap and I don’t envy another it. Had I known then what I know now I would have put a little more sophistication into our own family planning conversation, which for parents of a first-born who was extremely hard work, ended up going something a bit like…”should we have another baby”….”I don’t know what do you think”….”I don’t know, but surely it couldn’t be any worse second time around”…..” well okay then”. So after 10 months of trying (and at the point of giving up) we conceived, followed straight up by 9 months of crying, our first-born turned 3 a mere four days before his brother was born. Isn’t life all about timing?
It was all peaches at first, until I came home from hospital on day 3, to discover that my 3-year-old (although very much in love with his brother) was somewhat cross at his beloved parents and continued to be for about six harrowing months thereafter. A couple of months into this time of terror I ran into a lady (who hails straight from one of those circles where these things are a hot topic), only be informed by her that there are two things one should never ever do to a 3-year-old – 1. Bring a newborn into their world and 2. Move house on them. Turns out we did both. Now I really hate to learn lessons the hard way, but for some inane reason it just keeps on happening and I have to wonder why on earth I knew none of this before. Surely we weren’t the first parents to stumble unknowingly upon the 3 year age gap? I’m thinking there should be giant billboards out there to warn people of the perils, but alas, as with most things to do with parenting, once you’ve moved onto the next child rearing issue the last one gets forgotten about, a tricky little trick of Mother Nature no doubt.
We did get over that time, despite how trying it was and time will only tell who will bear the most scares (probably me) but in the end it doesn’t really matter what the age gap is because having a newborn in a house with other siblings will always present parents with obstacles they weren’t prepared for and that no one who knew had thought to tell them about. Except of course if you’re reading this and actually thinking about a 3 year age gap, then I can definitely tell you…..think again.