Parenting with a Large Age Gap // by Adventures in Websterland

Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from Angela, a wife and mama to four children, who has been blogging for just over four years! She has shared her story of being a mama to children with a considerable age gap. Be sure to go visit her blog over at Adventures in Websterland.

 

had my first baby in 1997 when I was twenty years old, just barely out of my teens and it was certainly a learning curve. I went on to give birth again less than two years later. I married young and enjoyed many years raising my children and nurturing my family. I always knew deep down that I wanted more children but my then husband did not agree. I resigned myself to being grateful for what I had but that niggling feeling that I wasn't done just didn't go away.

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Fast forward to 2010, my children were thirteen and eleven and my marriage broke down. I found myself in a new relationship and things moved pretty quickly. My now husband and I both agreed that we wanted to start a family together and just a year later I fell pregnant.

When Daisy was born in 2011 it had been exactly twelve years since I had held a newborn baby. The realisation hit me that between my eldest child and youngest there was actually a fourteen year age gap. Having another baby after such a long gap was like starting all over again. I had to re-learn all the basics and I had certainly forgotten about the sleep deprivation.

The thing that took me by surprise the most was that I now had children at all different stages of life who each required something different from me as a mother. I will admit that it was hard to find my feet with this issue. My eldest daughter was going through a tough time as a teen. She was struggling to cope with all the changes and in turn I struggled with knowing how to parent her. I dropped the ball so many times and I'm ashamed to say that I feel like at this point I failed as a parent.

In 2014 with another baby on the way I sat down and wrote a list of the things I thought each of my children would need from me individually. I knew there was no way I could meet all their needs but I was determined to change my mindset, I wanted to parent them as individuals instead as seeing them as a collective.

Since that day I have seen myself as wearing four different hats when it comes to parenting. I have developed and adapted my parenting style to suit each of my children. This might sound a little crazy but I feel like it's given them and me exactly what we need from our relationships. I'm not saying I always get it right but I also know that as a parent you never ever stop learning.

My eldest daughter, Jessica is almost twenty, and she's a Mummy herself. I talk to her and respect her as I would any other adult in my life. I listen to her worries and concerns but never force my advice upon her. Her personality is such that she needs a lot of support and reassurance at this point in her life so that's what I offer. I also know when she needs me to be stern and honest with her, she responds better to this than being moaned at.

My eldest son is eighteen and has just ventured into the world by himself at University. he has always being very independent and has a lovely calm, laid back manner. I have at times felt a little lost as a parent as he certainly doesn't need me in the ways my other children do. My feeling at this time in his life is that he needs space to explore adulthood. I might not see him often but I know if he really needed my help he would ask.

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My daughter Daisy is five and requires the usual things from me as a parent. She loves cuddles, tickles and laughter. We have little chats each day about whatever is on her mind. Her imagination is wild so she often needs reassurance and explanation about the things in her world. There can often be sudden emotional outbursts but I've found a soothing tone and some understanding can soon resolve the problem.

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My son Jake is three and he has at times been a little firecracker. I've often described him as spirited. For the first couple of years he needed me to be firm and create boundaries for him. Hugs and kisses have always been on his terms and I've been happy to sit back and allow him to express the things he needs from me. Since starting nursery his needs are changing once again, he has a thirst for learning and loves to know how things work.

Parenting children with such large age gaps has certainly been difficult at times. I wouldn't change it for the world though, I have four very different and very amazing children.