My two children are 6 years and 4 months apart. While people talk about how having children with less age gap between them is an exhausting task, no one actually talks about the perils of having children far apart. When I was pregnant with my second baby, all I heard was how good it was that the older one was old enough to understand and in some ways give me a helping hand in keeping her entertained. To a certain extent it was true. My son has always liked babies, and he was super excited about the idea of having a playmate. When he came to the nursing home to see his baby sister, his face fell when he realized that it would be sometime before she could actually play with him. Yet they bonded so beautifully over rattles and mobiles (the ones that hang over the crib and not the phone).
For me it was a different journey. The penny fell when I brought my younger one home from the nursing home. That night seeing both of them sleeping peacefully, I felt a wave of panic surge through me. I was responsible for two human beings! My spouse travels a lot and most of the chores involved in bringing up both of them fell on me. And of course Murphy’s Law states that if there is a very sick child at home or any kind of crisis, the husband has to be travelling and the emergency comes up only in the middle of the night.
With my daughter starting Pre School, I got my first day alone at home after a gap of 6 years. And the day she started first grade, I actually felt strange eating my lunch on my own at home. I had got so used to a pair of sticky hands holding on to me for the past few years. Honestly speaking, for all my grumbling about the lack of space, I really didn’t enjoy that lonely meal much.
In a few months, my daughter will be starting 7th grade and my son will go away to university. Attending a class meeting at her school today I realized that it was almost as if my two kids have been running a relay race. The older one finishes one lap and passes the baton to the younger one. He got done with diapers and potty training and then she came along. He finished the next phase and then she took over. He must have just got done with his orthodontic treatment and we are already looking at our school schedule to start the younger one off on her braces. And now that he is ready to graduate from high school, she is ready to begin the rigors of study, which will prepare her for Xth grade.
When my daughter graduates from high school, it will be 20 years of schooling that I have done alongside them. From the day my son joined preschool to when the little one moves on to university. And while it’s all too familiar the second time round, it’s also so different. We know we are dealing with a different individual. And it never ceases to amaze me how my two kids are so different from each other in their habits and tastes.
PS: My biggest grumble is that I have had to do two extra rounds of school in addition to the years I have put in my schooling.