I always thought I’d have a lot of kids. I assumed I’d get married younger, much like most of my college friends, and I assumed I’d stay home with my children, rather than work outside the home. This is the picture that many women in my life growing up painted for me and I loved the prospect of it.
I grew up in a home with a neatly planned age gap between all the children (well, we’re still not sure about that 15 month age gap between the first two!) My parents planned a nice and neat four years between the rest. We all grew up together and we all fit together nicely as one, happy, albeit messy and sometimes argumentative, Irish Catholic family.
Nearly fifteen years after graduating college I have found that I’m nowhere near where I once thought I would be, nor near anything resembling the family I grew up in.
Knowing I was in my late twenties and not married yet, I knew that my future family would look a bit different. I knew, again, when my son was born to me as a single mom that this portrait of a family would be my own unique one.
I knew things would be different, but I didn’t know how different. One step at a time and just a few years later I am a full time working mom with a new husband, a six-year-old, a dog, and a baby on the way. This is not a vision younger me could have dreamed of on my own.
But this is where we are and I love it and I am grateful for it.
I sometimes worry about the larger than planned age gap between our eldest son and the new baby, but I am learning to take the age gap as a blessing and to raise my children in such a way.
Some of us might have a similar vision of having our children grow up together, close in age, best friends and sharing a room. Maybe that’s what it was like for you growing up like it was for me. Some of us get to plan that out and things turn out as we dreamed. For those of us who don’t have it turn out that way, we have different stories. Some planned, some unplanned. Single parenthood, struggles with infertility, pregnancy loss, or the loss of a partner. There are more reasons than we may realize to not have our story play out the way we once planned.
And this is can be okay. This can be good. This can work.
Because our dreams for our families don’t always turn out as planned, but what we get can be equally incredible and perfect. Sometimes even more so because I believe the unplanned stories shape ourselves and our families in some of the most beautiful ways.
My son will have just turned seven when our next child will be born. He will be seven years older than his baby brother. Old enough to be aware and helpful and excited. Old enough to truly appreciate the feeling of his baby brother leaping around in my belly as he first feels the wiggles with his tiny hand pressed against my belly. Old enough to be feisty and silly and moody and fun, yet old enough to appreciate the miracle of a sibling after pregnancy loss. A loss he grieved with us. Old enough to talk through his feelings of not being an only child anymore and old enough to spend his days at school as we adjust to our new life.
He will be old enough to know to put his special toys up high so his little brother doesn’t get them. Old enough to keep himself occupied, and to still snuggle up to mommy and daddy when he needs a hug. And old enough to come down low to help hold and give a soothing pacifier if needed to the little babe that’s invading his former only child world. Old enough to get mommy a glass of water when I’m nursing and most definitely old enough to understand when my nausea and discomfort wore me down throughout pregnancy.
More importantly, he will be the age that he was supposed to be when these two little ones came together in my life. He wasn’t supposed to be younger or older.
He will be just old enough.
I am happier than happy enough because these are the two little ones that are meant to be mine.
And for that, I am eternally grateful.