Grieving the Age Gap

Every few months, something that has been bubbling under the surface starts to erupt. After a few days of crabbiness, short tempers, and tears, I realize that I feel inadequate to handle this family. It’s no secret that I pictured kids close in age. After a period of time, when the five of us have adjusted to one another; when my kids can play by themselves for five minutes, when we trust each other to say what we mean and mean what we say, when this feels like their home, they will still be four and six years apart. 

They will never really be into the same games, or telivision shows, or have the same friends. Most of our friends’ kids are either Carrot’s age or Zucchini’s age. Not both. So one feels left out.

I am left wondering if Carrot will always look up to Zucchini for approval, and if Zucchini will often push her away.

TV time before bed (nearly the *only* time they can occupy themselves has been making me tense. I find myself okaying programs for the two of them to watch on the higher end of the age range than I would normally okay for Carrot. And am up late at night, worrying about the important questions, you know, like do we get a second TV for the den upstairs, so both kids can watch more appropriate shows, or do they just end up being isolated?

Parents with kids far apart in age, or if you and your siblings are far apart in age, what are your tips?

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About EratMama

30 something midwestern gal, married to another 30 something midwestern gal, conquering depression, rockin' foster parent.
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3 Responses to Grieving the Age Gap

  1. mommie2be says:

    ((hugs)) friend. i dont have tips (I’ve kinda got the opposite problem…) but I’m so sorry to hear that sometimes you feel inadequate and what to remind you that you absolutely are not. There will always be challenges – there will always be questions we do not know the answers to – but the fact that you are searching, and trying, and thinking about the solutions means you are more than adequate. So much more.

  2. kershnic says:

    I’m not a mother yet, but I have an older sister who is over six years older than me and we made it work. As children we were close, though understandably she had more of a mentorship role versus a more equal playmates role that we might have had if we were closer in age. As we’ve grown into adults our relationship has gradually morphed into one of equals, but we continue to be very close. To me our age difference was enough that she didn’t see me as competition, and I could understand that the extra privileges she got were due to age and not favoritism. I’d say that we did a mix of me being allowed to do or see somewhat older things in order to spend time with her, and her getting to continue enjoying little kid joys through the guise of entertaining her younger sister. One thing I can point to that my parents did to promote our relationship was to encourage us to spend time together. This was especially true after she left for college and my parents made a point out of doing things like putting me on a plane to spend my spring break with her and making sure that we had technology available to communicate regularly. But I’m sure it was also true when we were younger and both at home – she babysat for me, she did my homework with me, and used me as her guinea pig/doll for pretty much every game you can imagine. Obviously some kids are going to adapt to this model better than others, but I think the best you can do is be flexible in your parenting when the end result is encouraging the kids to spend time with each other. Encourage Zucchini to take pride in being a good caretaker to Carrot and Pumpkin (the tricky part here of course is to also do this without enabling the parentification that is so common in foster kids.) But what E said is absolutely true – you are definitely not inadequate.

  3. meridith says:

    I’m the oldest with a sister 4 years younger and another six years younger. While my sisters found plenty of overlap in their ways of playing, it never really extended to friends (so no joint parties, play dates, etc.) My mom made an effort to seek out other families with children at or near their ages so the mix would balance them out. When left to our own devices, they played and I was left out (unless it was as babysitter at which point, I’m sorry to say, I was a tyrant). My wife also is four years from her older sister and shares a similar experience. So, that said, I do think the 4 years is a greater hurdle than the two and perhaps the oldest needs a little more grown-up time and certainly friends her own age (and not shared with the younger kids). It was hard on my mom, I don’t think she did a good job at everything, but those are the two areas in which I think it made the most difference.

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