My husband and I have been talking about spacing a lot lately.
No, not about gaps between teeth... or inches between parked cars... but the spacing between our children. The years and months that separate them.
We have 3 wonderful children. Three wonderful son's, at that. Our first two boys, Isaiah and Joshua, are just over 17 months apart. Whereas, between Joshua and Noah there are 26 months.
As you may or may not have guessed, we're planners when it comes to having babies. We pray, we seek God's face, we ask for direction...and we take responsibility and plan. That's us. Of course, while we make plans and seek God's path, we also acknowledge our inability to control the future. "Man makes a plan, but God directs his way." If our plans come to naught, we still rejoice and are grateful for God's sovereign control over all our hopes and dreams.
So while many looked at us in shock when we announced my second pregnancy just 9 months after our first child was born, we actually did plan it that way.
Yes. We really did. And no, I'm not just saying that.
We thought it'd be fun to have two close in age. We saw many benefits. Close friendships. Bunkbeds. Shared toys. We also thought that it would be handy for our oldest to never know what it was like to be the only child, and to avoid the struggle and (perhaps the) resentment that the arrival of subsequent siblings might bring. A wise mother of many called it "the de-throning process."
It worked out quite well. Our first two boys are two peas in a pod. They adore each other. They are the closest of friends. They are loyal, faithful, tender hearted to each other. They've grown up together...as much as a 4 year old and almost 3 year old can be called grown up, that is. They play with each other. Entertain each other. Care for each other. All of which has been a wonder and delight to see.
But boy was it, and is it, A LOT of work.
Having two little boys that close in age was almost like having 2 baby's. Sure they were 17 months apart, but for a while they were both very dependent. Two in diapers. Two mouths that needed great assistance to be fed. Twice as many faces to wipe and small laundry items to fold (and those of you with little ones know that a load full of onesies takes TWICE as long to fold than a load of your husbands shirts) While they are often grouped together, the two boys also possess two completely different personalities and needs that need attention all day long.
Thanks to God's providence (and our attempts to plan around deployments), the spacing between our second and 3rd child is 26 months. A big change from 17 months. But with different joys and challenges as well.
Joshua was much more grown up when Noah arrived, yet he was also much more aware of being trumped as the baby of the house. It really threw him off. Josh didn't seem to know if he was a big boy or a baby. There were days when he'd sit next to the rocking chair while I nursed Noah, just waiting for my lap to be empty and to have his snuggling time with mommy. But there were also days when it was such a blessing to have a 2 year old that could walk on his own, obey commands, sit still in church, and feed himself (however messy that might be!)
In addition, while we see the bond growing stronger between the older two boys, we also see that our youngest is often left to hang out with Mom. In part, that is the way it is with the youngest. Not only is Noah completely dependent on me right now, but he also can't play trucks or build legos like the other two. Not yet anyway.
Hence the discussion on spacing. Close in age with double the work? Or longer spacing with potentially harder transitions? Is there even such a thing has preferred spacing? Does it even matter?