I am 10 years older than my sister. We are best friends and have been since she was born. We talk almost every day and never make any major life decisions without consulting the other one first. She was my maid of honour at my wedding, and I'm about to be her matron of honour. But the best thing about having a much-younger sibling is that there's zero competition or jealousy, since we've always been at different stages of life. That frees us up to just be super-close and share everything. It's awesome! I never dreamed I'd one day grow up and have children with the exact same age difference. But I recently gave birth to a son a decade after welcoming my first child (I also have two kids in between). Now, as my first-born and her baby bro begin to navigate their relationship with a significant age difference, I see all the same benefits and joys I treasured with my little sister all those years ago.
Let's start with how my 10-year-old daughter was able to really understand and enjoy welcoming her little brother into the world. Though I will admit, her questions were far more intense while I was pregnant. She wasn't buying the whole babies get into mommy's tummy just from love angle any longer. But the good news is she helped me count down the days until he was born, and was so, so excited that it truly made my pregnancy even more special. Then, after what must have felt like forever to her (and me!), getting to see my first baby hold her baby brother in the hospital was priceless. And worry-free, since she was old enough to support his head properly.
At home, instead of feeling envious and acting out because mummy was spending so much time with her newborn sibling (been there, done that!), she was helpful. She watched him for me so I could shower, or eat a meal with two hands — things I rarely did when her middle two sisters were born, since I had so many little ones underfoot. As the months pass and the baby becomes more and more interactive, aware, and mobile, my 10-year-old's help is indispensable. Good thing she loves being a little mummy to him. I remember feeling the same way. I lived to pick out my sister's outfits, feed her, play with her, and even change her nappy. She was like a living doll! I can see how my daughter similarly finds joy in caring for her sibling. The look on her face when I finally let her hold him while she was standing up instead of sitting was pure pride.
It's important never to compare but to realise different things are important depending on what stage of life you are in.
I can't wait to watch the relationship flourish between my big girl and my baby boy. I can only hope that like me and my sister, they remain close even as their lives go in different directions. She'll be in high school when he's starting kindergarten. I remember my sister watching me get ready for the prom on the same day she lost a tooth. While I couldn't necessarily relate to what she was going through, I always reminded myself that in the scope of her life, the tooth thing was a really big deal. About as big as prom was to me. It's important never to compare but to realise different things are important depending on what stage of life you are in. That's the advice I plan to share with my daughter when she's going off to college around the time her brother has his first sleepover. As for my little guy: I hope he looks up to his big sis the way mine does with me. She says she loves that I have experienced everything before her, so I can share what I learned. I joke that I was the one who screwed up, so she could get it right!
As a parent meanwhile, it's definitely a challenge guiding kids through such separate life stages. But it's a challenge I am loving every minute of. Because when my oldest is getting too mouthy, what a relief it is to chill with my little 9-month-old and listen to him innocently babble and coo and look up at me, like I'm the best thing he's ever seen. On the flip side, when I need a little mental stimulation after a day spent reading Goodnight Moon 482 times, I love to catch up with my fifth-grader on that day's drama among her friends. I also love how new and exciting each stage is with my new baby; I mean, I haven't done this in a while!
They are going to have such a special relationship.
Indeed, I consider myself truly lucky to have kids who are 10 years apart in age. I know from experience there is so much they will teach one another as they grow up. If their relationship anything like the bond my sister and I have, my big one will have an amazing opportunity to mentor my little one. My little one will awe my big one sometimes with his wisdom. All the while, they are going to have such a special relationship. She can tell him about the day he was born. He will always look at her with sheer adoration. And I'll love them both so darn much and be the most grateful mum to get the opportunity to raise kids who will essentially be from two different generations. I guess it'll keep me young. As if having a sister who's a millennial while I'm a Gen X-er doesn't keep me young enough!