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The Age Gap

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

This topic seems to come up a lot, mostly by well-meaning friends and acquaintances: “How old is Preston?” they ask. What they really want to know is: “How far apart will he and the baby be?”

When I say he’s 3 ½, and will be about three months shy of his fourth birthday when the baby is born—I get the head tilt with some version of this response: “My sister and I are four years apart, and we’re very close.” Or, more likely: “My brother and I are four years apart, and we were never close.”

Some people say that gender has something to do with it—two kids of the same sex are more likely to be closer, regardless of age. Some people say gender has nothing to do with it—it has everything to do with their parents and how the children are raised. Then there's the closer-in-age camp: people who believe that age and spacing has everything to do with how close their kids are.

I think it has more to do with individual personalities.

Plus: The Right Way to Space Siblings (For You)

My brother and I are four-plus years apart—he's older—and we weren’t the closest kids in the world, but our families are very close now. I get along great with his wife, my sister-in-law—she was my matron of honor in my wedding—and our kids couldn’t love each other more (his youngest is five years older than Preston). But he and I are typical brother-sister siblings with little in common (he loves sports; I don’t). That said, our relationship is good—and better on the days he doesn’t feel the need to tease me as though I’m still 12.

But how do I really feel about this? None of it even matters, because my kids will be 3 ½ years apart, and I wouldn’t have it any other way at this point. Frankly, I’m just grateful to be having another child and thrilled to be able to give Preston a sibling.

As you may know, I went through a helluva time getting pregnant—we started trying to have another baby when Preston was merely one, because I had a gut feeling it might take us longer this time due to my age. A self-fulfilling prophecy, I guess. Months turned into years, and before I knew it we’d been trying to conceive for a total of two years, both naturally and with the help of fertility treatments and IVF.

So here we are: I have the kindest, smartest, most adorable 3 ½ year old, and he couldn’t be more excited to meet his new baby sister in June. He talks about it on the regular at school, at home, to anyone who will listen. (Word has it my brother was excited to meet me before I was born, too, but that might be an urban legend.)

Plus: 7 Sources of Sibling Rivalry

Preston makes promises to me that he’ll help me change the poopy diapers (he’s rather excited about this); feed, sing and read to the baby. And the thing I’ll miss most when this pregnancy is over: When he’s leaving the house or when he’s returning, he runs over to me, grabs my belly with both his hands, and plants big, gentle kisses on it. “I want to kiss the baby! Baby, baby, baby, babbbyyyy…ooh, you’re so cute.” Could anything be sweeter?

And because he’s 3 ½, he understands the baby is going to be a baby for a while. “Mom, I want the baby to get here so it can grow biiiig like me.”

I’m sure we’ll feel the age gap, but right now—who cares? I’m having my second child soon, and nothing could make me happier.

Is the age gap an issue for you, or your kids? Do people seem overly interested in how you’ve spaced them apart? Let's discuss in the comments.