Why the Ideal Time Between Babies Is a Load of Malarky

By Kara Reynolds | Nov 17, 2018

The years beyond high school are supposed to be filled with more academics and a ten-year plan for starting your career, getting married and popping out babies. At least, the know-it-alls of modern society deem it so. Love takes a different route. My husband and I have been together since we were 18, and we got married at 24. Two years later, I birthed my first tiny human. Now, those know-it-alls say that, ideally, I should’ve had my second child two years after my first to complete the perfect age gap, but I’ve never been one to adhere to societal trends religiously. My second pregnancy arrived four years after my first child, and no, I don’t care about the big “age gap.”

It Was the Right Time for Our Family

In my opinion, the “ideal time” between babies a big, fat load of malarky. Will I have more with “bigger” and less-than-ideal age gaps? Maybe. Love knows no bounds, and hanging on to ideals means indulging in delusions served up in rose-colored glasses. I hit the mark when I had my first at the tender age of 26, just old enough to feel like a real adult, finally, and young enough to not be a “geriatric” mom — at least according to the statistics. My family expressed a great deal of support in my marriage but did share their concerns that I was young. I still feel young inside, and I don’t think that will change. When is it a good time to have kids, anyway? People lose their jobs unpredictably each year, and when both partners do have stable jobs, it may not be enough financially — especially due to the increasing burden of student loans. Individual goals occasionally flicker into sight from your mental bucket list only to fade over time. Because there’s always time, right?

Family Planning Is a Nice Thought

Want to know the beautiful, scary thing about life? It’s mostly a blank slate, even when you try to put a plan in place. Plans are placeholders, and you can’t always trust them. Birth control options allow women and men to aim for a time frame when it comes to their family planning goals, but life happens. The stork pops that bun in the oven, you miss your period, and the pregnancy game’s afoot. Family planning is a nice thought, but life cares not for plans. The experts decree that your fertility peaks in your twenties, just as you start to ease into “adulting,” and if you “wait” until your thirties to have kids, you’re considered a geriatric mother. While the eggs do start deteriorating, anything can happen. Many millennial women waited to have children, and many new moms find themselves pregnant at older ages. Janet Jackson gave birth to her first at age 50, and doctors say more and more women are having babies at older ages. When is too late? When is too soon? Being “ready” to have a child never happens, but babies do with their own special alarm to welcome you — yay, spotting and vomiting.

The Number of Kids Parallels Shifts in Life Perspective

Parenthood changes your perspective on everything. You fear to be a sucky parent, but that only stems from wanting to do the best for your kiddo, and the same thing happens when the second tiny human makes their debut. Everything that felt so huge, traumatic or riveting at the time faded into insignificance in light of each beautiful spirit my husband and I brought into existence. I’m lucky to provide for my family with a job that values my contributions and the concept of work-life balance, one almost as elusive as family planning, in reality. So many women end up staying at home or changing jobs multiple times to stay afloat and give their families the proper attention and the resources they deserve. Go, Wonder Women! I know it’s tough going, but the tough got to get going — and being a mom means you’re always on the go. When my oldest ships off to kindergarten, my second will still be attached to my hip and waiting for big sis to get home. When my oldest goes to high school, my second will enter middle school. That stagger also makes for sharing of life experience among us all with enough differences to make life interesting and informative. You never stop learning as you get older, no matter what stories your wrinkles tell. Millennials are the last generation to know what’s like to grow up without the full impact of an omnipresent technological world, at least us elders. I’ll be tech-savvy enough to keep up, but enough of an old-timer to ground them in experience. So, what if the age gap is bigger than four? What if I have a third, eight years from now? Well, life happens, and more love in the world never hurt anyone. I’ll just be over here doing me. You do you. Screw the ideal-timers. I’d rather spend my time counting to ten while playing hide and seek and enjoying what it means to be a mom.

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