When I was only 27 years old, I had the illusion that my family was complete. I had just given birth to my fourth son, and had figured I was finished adding to my family. Five years later, however, I found myself divorced and another couple of years following that, remarried to a man who had no children but wanted at least one child. So, at 35, here I go again, giving birth to number five, a girl this time.
My oldest will be 23 this November, and my second son is 21. They are both currently living on their own, or still residing in their college town, respectively. I still have three children living at home, and the combination of having two teenage sons (ages 17 and 15), and a 7-year-old daughter can keep my life very interesting to say the least!
There are some advantages to having this significant age difference between them. First off, there is no one who would come to the defense of a little sister faster than her older brothers. If anyone would dare give my daughter a hard time, they would have to go through her brothers first. I feel certain that as she becomes older, they will play an even more significant role in her life, as I have older brothers and know what valuable friends they can be when you reach adulthood. Obviously, this applies to whichever gender your children are, as older siblings tend to look out for younger ones.
Having reliable babysitters that you know and trust, right here at home is nice too when you need to be away for a night here and there. Another plus, because the boys have already gone through many of the same or similar experiences as my daughter is now, she can sometimes relate to them better, being siblings, and closer to her age than myself or her dad. They are also great for helping with homework, as with me being in my early forties, most schools don’t use the same methods for certain subjects as they did when I was growing up. With the boys having grown up in the same school district, they are still familiar with how that district likes things done and their methods of teaching, and can explain it to her more easily than I might be able to do.
It’s not all a blissfully happy bed of roses though! There are also some real downsides to this age difference, the biggest one being that my daughter, being princess of this household, expects her brothers to play with her whenever she feels they should. This does not work out too well! Obviously, being teenaged boys, they’re not always eager to play with a dollhouse or have a tea party with her. (Many times, sweeties that they are, they will appease her, but honestly, I wouldn’t expect them to do this all the time!) Sometimes, the boys need quiet time for studying or doing homework, and sometimes they just need a little privacy. This is hard for my daughter to understand at age seven, and she will take it personally, that they don’t want to play with her. Then the real fun starts! She learned at the ripe old age of 3, that she could use certain objects to pick the lock on their door.( Her favorite item for this quickly became a plastic bra from a Barbie mermaid doll of all things! Gotta give her credit for creativity on that one.) This obviously annoys her brothers to no end. Then they go back and forth, and I hear “Mom, they won’t play with me!”, and “She won’t stay out of our room!” back and forth for the next ten minutes until I can persuade her to go find something else to occupy her, and remind her that it’s not polite to barge into people’s room after they’ve asked you to keep out. Usually this scenarios takes place in the evenings when I am attempting to make dinner and cannot give her my undivided attention. Par for the course with the age difference I’m sure.
There are also certain, more serious issues, of trying to make sure teen actions and language stay with the teens and don’t trickle down to the little one. It’s hard to allow my sons to be themselves around her, without having to edit certain topics of discussion in front of their little sister. Especially hard when they have friends over. I have to remind the older ones to keep their slang expressions and topics in check, as something that is perfectly appropriate for a teen to say/hear, may not be so appropriate for a 7-year-old girl.
All in all, I would say it’s well worth any low points , and the high points do outweigh the low ones, although if you ask me some night while the lock picking is going on and my dinner is burning while trying to referee the matter, I might say otherwise. Just kidding! Seriously, I adore all of my children and think it all worked out as it was supposed to. I thank God every day for them, and will gladly deal with all the little hassles I might encounter.
As a parent, remember, these days are fleeting, and amidst all the chaos these age difference can sometimes cause, one day they will all be grown, and you’ll be wishing you had this time back. Embrace it, and remember, you’ll survive and be better for it. Happy parenting!