I've been thinking a lot about large family dynamics. With four naturally spaced kids, the age difference gets pretty spread out between the oldest and youngest. Even though two children is seen as average (in some places it is even looked down upon to have more than two), in my circle of friends, many families have 3 or more kids. I've been watching the interaction in the families whose eldest, like mine, are almost teens and getting more independent and responsible, while the youngest are still rambunctious toddlers. It gets complicated when there are many varied needs and stages all at the same time. My son is nine years older than his baby sister, and while pregnant I thought a lot about what that would mean for them. There are definitely positive and negative aspects, but I wouldn't change what we have for anything.
1. It can be hard to meet everyone's needs at the same time. Because of their drastically different ages, everyone wants to do different things. My older kids end up sacrificing more for the little one more than I'd like.
2. People always say how it gets easier because the older kids can help. Extra help is great, of course, but I also don't want to expect too much and I want to make sure they still get to be kids. There needs to be a careful balance so the older kids don't resent their parents and siblings.
3. My youngest daughter is a lot less babyish than my others were at this age, and I think it's because she wants to be big sooo bad. She's hit all the milestones earlier than the others because she's always trying to keep up! It's a little sad that my last child is growing out of babyhood so fast!
4. They don't always want to play together. My twin daughters are three years younger than my son. They have always all been so close and played well together. I know it's not always the case but it seems like playing with their much younger sister sometimes feels forced. They don't mind if she tags along but they don't want to play ring around the rosy twelve times in a row either.
5. I can't help but feeling like my life was so close to being easier with my older kids becoming really independent, and then... more babies!!!
1. One of the most common things you hear about having bunches of kids (that's what more than two feels like—bunches), is that the older ones can help. This is so true and so awesome.
2. The little kids want to be like the big ones and act more mature. When my older kids were babies they were like a herd of baby ducks that just followed me everywhere. Into the shower, while I peed they played in the bathroom. Everywhere. But not Sage. She follows the older kids, so once in a while I can pee alone.
3. With a big family, the older kids get to be involved in the process of the birth and babyhood of the younger ones. They will always remember that experience. I'm especially glad for my oldest son to have witnessed both a positive twin birth and an unassisted birth. He'll grow up with a healthy view of natural birth!
4. Everyone told me it would be different, but different in a really cool way. This is very true. Seeing their relationships and how the older kids respond so lovingly to their younger sister is amazing. They treat her like she's their own little baby. Except of course when she's screaming because they won't play ring around the rosy "one more time!"
5. Someday when the big kids are off with their friends and don't want to hang out with me anymore, I will have my special time with little Sage. It will be different, but I know it will be awesome in its own way.