It’s been almost two years since we found out we were expecting our third child. We were thrilled and overcome with excitement, but also nervous.
When all was said and done, the age gap between our children would be 7 and 5 years apart. We would be starting all over with sleepless nights, dirty diapers and potty training, messy baby food and self-feeding sessions, and the terrible twos.
But in addition to that, the age gap between the kids would be quite noticeable. Would our third child be accepted into the fold by the older kids, or would they be so consumed with their own interests and play, that they would hardly pay him any attention? And because the first two were born just two years apart, they shared a bond that is inevitable of siblings close in age. Would the new baby be seen as a third wheel, or would he or she be welcomed as the third musketeer?
Looking back now, it seems almost silly we had these concerns. Even as experienced parents, we just didn’t know how it would all play out. We couldn’t predict the future, so at the time, our worries felt rational and totally plausible.
But then that third child was born, and we realized that the unconditional love that children experience is one of the most pure forms of love that even exists.
Within minutes of meeting their new baby brother, demands were being yelled with delight, both to hold him first and to “please let me change his diaper, pleasssseeee!!!” That baby had the driest little tush of any baby ever born, those first few weeks of his life. Our third child was coddled and stared at, sung to and read to, and offered numerous pacifiers, from the moment we arrived home from the hospital.
As he got older and grew and grew, offers to dress him and give him a bottle, or feed him his first bites of baby cereal were plentiful. And from the time he could hold his trunk up nice and tall, big sister began carrying him around on her small little hip, just like she observed me doing. Big brother, while nervous to hold him the bigger and heavier he got, saw his growing body as the perfect time to start some gentle wrestling matches. You can tell that our older son is just itching for baby brother to really be able to play rough and tough.
The older kids continue to provide me, and their baby brother, with immeasurable amounts of help and laughter. When baby is fussy, they are quick to try and soothe. When I need a wipe, they are eager to run and grab one without complaint. This age gap continues to be a blessing for our family, and just what we needed.
Some days, when I’m my most tired and drained from caring for three children, including a busy 1-year-old, I wonder if it hadn’t been more wise to try for #3 just a few years earlier, when I was a few years younger. But then I see Taylor carry around her brother with pride, or I hear a hearty laugh from a baby and his brother, somehow managing to play a game of hide and seek despite a 5-year age gap between them, and I realize that all is how it’s supposed to be.
And I know that I wouldn’t have it any other way.