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Spatial Relations

November 17, 2008

Recently, I was reading NY Times columnist Lisa Belkin’s blog post about the Motrin controversy when I saw that her subsequent blog entry was on the news that  the Pregnant Man is preggers yet again.  Having an incredibly hard time understanding his first pregnancy, I figured I’d read it in hopes of answering some of the Girl’s questions on the matter. 

But that wasn’t really the point of the post.  It was about giving children space, at least in terms of birth order.  A subject I deal with a lot more than I encounter pregnant males or (thankfully) Motrin moms.

I have 2 children that are 7 years apart.  Somehow, when this comes up in conversation, the response of the person listening to me is usually to say, “Oh my!” or “Gosh!”  It’s a natural inclination to then ask whether there were fertility issues, or other reasons to explain the spacing.  I totally get it.  My response is brutally honest.  “That’s just the way it worked out for us.”  I don’t answer any questions, but, heck, I’m not lying either. 

My 2 sisters in law both have 2 kids exactly 2.5 years apart.  Coincidence?  Not really.  In fact one said that she read that’s the optimal spacing between children and charted and plotted to ensure that it would happen.  To which my response was, “There’s a manual for that sort of thing?  Why wasn’t I issued one?”

Truth be told, I don’t believe there is a perfect way to space children in a birth order.  It’s a hand of cards, and you get what you are dealt.  If your fertility is strong enough to be able to plan and chart a pregnancy, great for you.  But if you can’t, it certainly doesn’t mean you are behind the eight ball.

I love my two children more than anything, and couldn’t imagine any scenario other than the one I am in.  I love that my 9 year old girl is a little mommy to her brother.  I love watching him light up when he sees her come into a room, which he does every single time she comes into a room, I might add.  For him, it’s the first time all over again.  I know that I couldn’t handle the griping and sibling rivalry that having 2 kids close together can bring.  I’m so glad I can experience having a little one and am able to give specialized attention to him as a toddler as well as to his sister, the tween.  I remember when I was pregnant she was worried about how to be a big sister.  I told her that as an only child, I had no idea how to be a sibling, so it was something we were going to learn together.  We have, and oh what an adventure it has been. 

When Ms. Belkin asks which is better, children close together or further apart, and is it even possible to plan and set realistic expectations, she concludes with this thought:

“Are these questions nothing more than a parlor game — impossible to answer until you look back on what life has handed you and who your children have become?”

I vote yes, and hope all of you get to look back with joy, laughter and love.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2008 10:34 pm

    People often ask me what I would consider to be an “ideal” spacing and I say there’s no such thing. I know people who are glad to just get the sleep deprivation, diapers, etc out of the way at once, and those who need a little break, and those who benefit from a BIG break. I can definitely see the benefits of spreading ’em out…and I also see the benefits in my family of spacing them relatively closely (ours are 11, 9, 5, almost 3 and we’ll have a baby in the spring, so we have two groups of kids with a two-year difference, and a four-year split between the two groups, and then a little over three-year spacing between the current youngest and baby to be). Because we have a larger family–and because we started our family young and would also like to finish relatively young–having kids further apart wouldn’t work as well for us…but I can definitely see the upsides to doing it that way!

  2. November 17, 2008 11:31 pm

    I thought I wanted them closer, but now that they are 4 years apart I thinks it’s just perfect. Ainsley’s as thrilled with him as I am and is very often more maternal than me. But, they also play together as siblings too. You’re so right. Duh. There is no “right” way to do it.

  3. Jennifer permalink
    November 18, 2008 12:42 am

    My brother is 5 1/2 years younger than me and other than maybe wishing we were in school together at the same time, we’ve never questioned or wanted it differently.

    Where I live, it seems every family is made up of one 3-4 year old and then a baby (of unknown age) in a stroller. Even when I checked out of the hospital after my now 2-year old was born, the nurse said “see you in a couple of years.” Imagine?! No pressure, right?

    We don’t know where our family planning will take us next but it’s nice to see that we DON’T have to buy into a one size fits all approach.

  4. November 18, 2008 9:53 am

    It is interesting how people assume/question everything irregardless of how close/far apart your kids are. Often people will look at B and me and assume that it was seemless for us to get pregnant (is wasn’t) and that both pregnancies went perfectly (they didn’t). Now we have two kids that are nearly 3 years apart – the ‘perfectly planned age’ (again, not intentional). The thing the bothered me the most when I was pregnant with K was everyone’s reaction once they learned that we were having a boy – as if I would have been disappointed had he been a girl. For some reason the comments really annoyed me! We also get comments about how young we are for having two kids. I think some people looked at us when A was in the NICU and thought that I had been careless during my pregnancy (manic, perhaps, but not careless).

    People will choose to comment/form an opinion without any knowledge of the situation.

    And you are right, I already look back and see the joy…it’s all around me.

  5. November 18, 2008 10:34 am

    I know nothing from spacing having twins. The sibling rivalry is very high in my space. But maybe that’s just my life. I think it’s all individual and you deal with the a hand you’re dealt as best you can. Find joy where you can.

  6. November 18, 2008 2:35 pm

    Tracee, I think life works out that way. You can plan and plan, but when you have what you have, you make it work. And love it.

    Kwana, I was definitely thinking of you when you wrote this post. Anyone pregnant with multiples must be able to corner the market on receiving silly comments from others.

    Jennifer, the great thing about life is that it is never a one size fits all option!

    Meagan – my hat’s off to you…you seem to have it going on with a great family with more on the way.

    Ashley, pregnancy is never easy, thankfully you have all that joy around you to remind you why you did it!

  7. November 20, 2008 9:39 am

    Interesting post as usual! As someone who grew up with siblings barely a year older and a year younger, then one ten years apart, I am a big advocate on big spacing! There is just not enough mommy time when only a year a part and sibling rivalry was rampant with us first three. I remain very close to my sister who is ten and a half years younger than I am.

    I suppose there are many arguments for and against any combination, but I think these things do impact us. I always wanted to be an only child though, so now my daughter gets to experience that one. She is very close to cousins, so we allow that to be her “siblings” and best friends.

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