More often than not when people ask me about my three children they are often surprised that there are 16 years between my oldest and youngest. I will get responses like wow, no way, you look so young. Some will say wow you have your hands full. Reality is I do have my hand’s full parenting kids with large age gaps.
Throughout my years of motherhood, I have only met a select handful of mother’s who also have a big age difference between their kids.
These mothers are very different mom friends as we live very distinct motherhood’s. In addition, these mother’s share different views because of the fact they have seen the transformation of childhood to adulthood. While still having younger children at home.
The almost adult
Most recently I took my 17-year-old to the bank to officially open her own account. Since she is now working and earning an income from two jobs she wanted to open an account independently.
As we sat for an hour with the banker and went over several legal documents. She gazed at the banker and nodded her head. The banker explained all the different aspects of the account, fee’s rules, options for overdraft protection, etc.
Throughout this whole conversation, I would chime in and breakdown the legal terms to my daughter in more plain English. Trying to navigate if she was grasping what was being told to her and what she was signing her name too.
After it was all said and done we walked out the bank. My daughter turns to me and says “I have no idea about anything she just told me” “she was speaking in all this legal stuff”. So I had to explain things to her on the car ride home.
When I am out in the world people will say things to me like “having a teenager must be nice because she can help out”. A common misconception that teenagers mean parenting is easier.
Having a teen and little ones doesn’t mean you get a baby sitter! Parenting kids with large age gaps is like an unpaved road.
It’s quite the opposite of what most people think. It is more difficult at times.
For moms who don’t have older children, they don’t realize that the little things such as the nagging I wanna snack every 45mins or dealing with toddler tantrums are significantly different than dealing with teenage drama.
Toddler tantrums will come and go and you are able to recover from the stress of them. When it comes to handling teens it is much more demanding at times. You are parenting a young adult who is quickly forming their views on the world and even you as a parent. They are going through life experiences that are on a different level.
The little man
Boys are so different than girls and raising him requires me to be a whole different mom. Being a mom of a boy has brought so much joy to my heart. He is my only boy you see.
I will never forget being in the hospital saying I have this mommy thing down but what the heck do I do with that? He is a boy of course. So while I had 13 years of parenting with my oldest. My boy was a game-changer.
He is active, creative and wants to run and jump.
We are in the stages of learning to read and write. Wanting to play with legos and being a pirate. He is discovering more about friendships while growing peach fuzz on his mustache.
Our littlest is our sunshine always a happy baby but a spitfire/diva. She was and is my go-getter from the start. At 18 months she is walking and learning new words every day.
She loves to follow everything her older siblings are doing and wants so badly to keep up.
However, she is still getting up in the middle of the night for either bottles or just pure comfort.
We are also entering the stages of potty training.
Daily life raising kids with massive age gaps
My daily life as a mom and parenting kids with a large age gap. Often times means dealing with different challenges at any moments time. Daily teen hormones, preparing her for adulthood, a rumbustious boy wanting to play, handling spikes of testosterone surges while dealing with diapers, bottles and unpredictable toddler tantrums.
If you have ever heard the phrase “Mothers never sleep” it is true to the core. If I think back my solid sleep stopped almost 18 years ago.
When it comes to sleep I suffer from insomnia and am often woken by the toddler cause she wants to be held or sang to sleep. Sometimes the 4-year-old for random things.
My thoughts race daily worrying about my teen so often I find it hard to sleep most nights on top of the fact I am getting interrupted sleep from the two littles.
I oftentimes lay in bed thinking about have I done enough, what more can I do, she isn’t ready. As she is entering the world of adulthood soon.
Stages of independence
While the teen is obviously self-sufficient on caring for herself and feeding her self. She also though needs so much support.
Going back to the day I took her to the bank she sat in the car and told me “Mom I feel so lost, there is so much to learn”.
Her needs are so vast sometimes it’s emotional, sometimes is being a friend, sometimes it’s fighting back to let her know her actions are not the best.
Our son can cloth and do basic care for himself but requires attention as a little boy. The world is grand to him and he wants to just take it all in.
Our toddler gets into everything and chasing her around daily is a whole other mission. I don’t work out as much these days because I am so tired from just controlling her from running off.
Exhaustion as a mom
Having a teen is like being on an emotional roller coaster that never returns to the station. It just loops around and around.
On any given day you have no idea what is coming at you or what you will walk into.
Dealing with eye-rolling or being ignored. Having to get into screaming matches or dealing with boy issues and the tears of frustration or drama that comes with it.
Some days it can be just trying to listen. Which is really hard by the way. There is a point as a parent where you learn a new skill. It’s called listening. It’s unsettling because you are trying to navigate when you should respond.
When our littlest one came into the picture the exhaustion of infant feeding every two hours, breastfeeding her and having to pump was overwhelming.
The first 6 weeks I was full of anxiety and not wanting to leave the house. It was so difficult for me to transition to having two under the age of 5. The demands were so high.
Leaving the house was a production. Being alone was scary and stressful.
Not to mention the lack of sleep of dealing with a newborn and the feeling of being touched out as a mom.
I dealt with horrible mom guilt as my son had to suffer through the first year with his new baby sister. Dealing with a mom who was running on fumes. Too exhausted to play and struggling with no energy.
Then throw in the teen I was a bit lost for a while again.
I had no help and was and am often alone throughout the day with the kids. While I had the support system of talking and sharing with mom friends and my village. It doesn’t compare to having a helping hand like when my husband is home.
My husband is truly my partner when it comes to raising our kids. But he has a lot on his plate providing for us and working 11 hours a day.
During the infancy stage of our littlest, I dealt with emotional stress, depression, overstimulation, brain fog and at times felt a little insane.
There were times where I became so over everything I just wanted to leave the house. Not because I don’t want my family, let me put that out there before some cra cra says something dumb.
I wanted to leave the house because I needed a break from trying to be all things. Great mom, great wife, best-friend to teen and husband, under the bed monster killer, therapist, teacher, home manager, housekeeper, chef, budget planner, and just a cool mom.
But with such large age gaps between my kids, it can be a little chaotic. I go from baby talk to discussing Ryan’s toy review episodes, and the lastest hip gear with all 3 kids within like 15 mins.
I hear MOM, MOM, MOM play with me, where’s my hair straightener, look mama Elmo! Switching mental gears like a stock market broker trying to keep up with which direction I need to go.
Stuck between wanting them to stay little and to grow up faster
The time is flying by and I am trying to live it up each day to the fullest.
We are down to a year left before our teen is considered a legal adult. We are having college conversations and what she is interested in. We are discussing money matters of wanting to buy a car and paying for her college.
As these times are trying there are times I wish I could push the fast forward button. Skip over all the hard lessons she has to learn and get to the part of life where she is living on her own, making a life for herself and settling down.
Wanting to be able to have adult conversions about life and maybe planning her wedding.
There are times though where I will find myself in tears and wanting to stop the clock or make it go slower.
She is no longer my baby and has her own wants and dreams. She is needing less of me to take care of her and more needing me to mentor her.
With my youngest girl, we are entering full toddler life and my last baby is no longer going to be a baby for very long.
I will miss the baby cuddles and snuggles. Her baby gibberish and all things baby related.
My son will be entering kindergarten in a short year. Which means our days are numbered and he will soon spend most of his days with teachers and friends.
I want to keep him little. Just playing and learning with me all day. Wanting him to be my big helper and me being able to hug and hold him whenever I want throughout the day.
Soon I will no longer get to watch him play with his blocks as he watches his favorite cartoons while I prepare food in the kitchen.
Years do fly by
When its all said and done would I change my scenario? Absolutely not !! Would I recommend having such a large age gap between having kids not in particular?
But I couldn’t see my self having multiples under the age of 5 at the same time either. That is a huge undertaking. And I salute those moms who manage that.
I deal with a lot as a mom as we all do. This is just my different truth as a mom.
But the reality is dealing with kids with large age gaps is difficult. So to the people who think it must be easier since you have a teen. I am sharing the truths as a mom. It’s not, it’s just different in its own way. But understand that if you meet a mom who is dealing with this. She probably could use a listening ear.
Sometimes I love hanging with my mom friends and village and sometimes it can be a lonely road too. Not many of them understand the ups and downs of my motherhood journey and raising kids with large age gaps.
You see my heart is full and my home is too. This journey is not an easy one but the gift of being able to have a front-row seat to watching my kids grow and seeing what they will become fills my heart with joy.
I always wanted to be a mom and was blessed with 3.
Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.—Psalm 127:3 (NIV)
I love watching them interact with each other and their personalities they each have. They have their own language and when they are all on the same wavelength it’s full of laughter and cuddles. Even if it means watching a Disney movie as siblings.
My time is limited as a mother and soon my home won’t be filled with little feet. The journey is strenuous but beautiful in its own way.
However, it’s enough for another sane mother to go a little crazy. Making you walk around looking like Hai Hai from Moana and that’s the TRUTH.
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