My children are seven years apart in age. I didn’t really plan it that way, but that’s how it happened. Having them far apart like that has both pros and cons. A few of the pros are: I never had to worry about the sibling jealousy that arises when you bring a new baby home to a two or three year old, it was easier going out – it’s hard to hold on to a toddler and an infant, but a seven year old can generally be trusted to walk alongside you without you needing to keep a death grip on him. And if I’m being totally honest, it was nice to have a child old enough to go get me a diaper/wipes/binky when I needed one for the baby. (One thing I thought would be a pro was that I figured that with the age difference, they wouldn’t fight as much as close-in-age siblings do. OK, you folks with much older/younger siblings, get it out of your system: HAHAHAHAHAHA. But what did I know about siblings fighting – I’m an only child.)
But then you have the cons: while they DO play together, it’s not the same as having them a year or two apart when they have the same interests or abilities. And then there’s the schedules – they aren’t on the same sports teams or school schedules, so I often feel like all I do is run back and forth from one’s practice/game/school event to the other’s. But for me, the biggest con of all is the fact that I sometimes feel like I was cheated out of my second child’s babyhood.
When my son first said “Mama”, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I couldn’t get enough of being called Mama (although I admit, there were times after I had heard it for the 275,329,842nd time that day when it wasn’t quite so sweet). And he called me Mama for a long time. In fact, when the girl was born, he was still calling me Mama most of the time, though he was heading into the more “big boy” habit of calling me Mom. Not that I don’t like Mom. But it just doesn’t quite tug at the heartstrings the way Mama does. And when she started calling me Mama, I was just as excited as the first time around. But with her, it didn’t last seven years like it did with him. In fact, with her, she started calling me Mom when she was just a toddler. And it broke my heart a teeny tiny bit.
The same goes with a lot of things – the cute mispronunciations, the outgrowing of “baby” shows and games and toys – she just seems to be growing up so much faster than he did (admittedly, some of it may be from my perspective of OMG – my last baby
One of the sweet habits she had started when she was a tiny baby. One day when I was nursing her, she reached up her hand and grabbed my earlobe and hold on. From then on, my ear (or the ear of whichever loved one was holding her) became her version of the security blanket. When she was taking a bottle, when you were snuggling, when you were reading her a story – any time you were close, she would comfort herself by holding on to your ear. Once she was talking, she would even ask for it – her sweet baby voice asking “ear?” almost made my heart explode. But like most childhood habits, she outgrew it.
But last night, we were lying on the couch together and she was reading me a book, and suddenly – without even realizing that she was doing it – she reached up and softly grabbed my ear. And my heart just melted. She may be growing up, but I’m glad she’s still my baby.