Kate, mother of two boys, Isaac 4, and Anders 2, writes about her experiences on her blog, Kate and the Boys: The (mis)Adventures of Spike and Thor’s Mom.  What I like most about Kate’s writing is her honesty and her positive outlook on everything.  Even after a rough day, she’ll still see the good in it.   Not too mention her boys are hilarious and often remind me of my brother and I when we were kids.  That sibling relationship can be a unique and special one, but depending on the age difference it can also be a challenge.  Kate shares her story about having two kids close together in age.

SIBLINGS

I don’t think I’m supposed to say this, but if I could go back to the night when my second son was conceived, I’d put my sweatpants on and curl up with a good book.

Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement of how I’m feeling today. I say it not because I don’t love my little 2 ½ year old peanut, Anders; I do, like crazy-cakes.  I can’t imagine life without his wispy white-blonde hair, his funny antics trying to make his brother laugh during meal time, or his hyperbolic excitement when we offer him chocolate cake.  But man, the last three years have been brutal!  If I could do it over knowing what I know now, I would wait longer between babies.  A little breathing room might make life a little simpler.

Our boys are 21 months apart; our eldest, Isaac, announced my pregnancy with a “Big Brother” tee shirt just after he had learned to walk at one year old.  And we even did it on purpose.  I was done breastfeeding, wrapping up grad school, getting ready to buy a bigger house with more bedrooms. I thought Isaac needed a sibling to play with and I needed a new challenge. It was either have another baby, or go back to work.  We decided to get the baby stuff “out of the way” by doing it all at once.

I wish I were one of those parents with unending motivation and patience, but I am not. In my pre-parenthood fantasies of what I’d be like as a mother, I thought I’d be able to leave behind all my character flaws so as not to pass them on to the next generation, but you know what? You don’t magically become a perfect person after giving birth. I still struggle with getting places on time and I still lose my temper and say words I’d rather my kids didn’t repeat.  I am totally jealous of my friends who manage two or three kids with seeming ease, but I allay my insecurities by telling myself that my impression that they have it all together is probably not entirely accurate.

I recently read Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.  I’d highly recommend it to any one with more than one kid.  Heck, I’d recommend it to any one who has a sibling.  It’s practical and not preachy, like so many parenting books tend to be.  Anyway, I found comfort in the authors’acknowledgement of how much harder parenting becomes when you have more than one.  Suddenly there’s competition, jealousy, fighting, and all-out war.

Yesterday I overheard my two lovely lads having this conversation in their shared room at bedtime:

Isaac: Don’t say STOP!
Anders: STOP!
Isaac: Don’t say STOP!
Anders: STOP!
Isaac: Don’t say STOP!
Anders: STOP!

And today at breakfast, before I even got out of bed, it was:

Isaac: It’s my cup!
Anders: It’s my cup!
Isaac: It’s my cup!
Anders: It’s my cup!
Isaac: It’s my cup!
Anders: It’s my cup!

My husband came in and goes, “What are you guys fighting about?” and Anders said, “Our cups.” I couldn’t help but laugh – Duh, Daddy!

I have several friends about to have their second child.  I’m not sure if they’re actually being smug or if my insecurities about my kids’behavior is making me read into it, but I can’t help but think, “Just you wait,” when their perfect toddler sits idly by while my two wrestle over the Lighting McQueen Lego car.  I’m sure they’re thinking what I was in their shoes, “My two will never fight like that! I simply won’t stand for it!” Ha!  We’ll see!

I do have to report on the other side of the equation of sibling relations, though, too.  Despite their bickering and all the injuries they inflict on each other, my boys really are best friends. They quite literally speak their own language, one that is apparently hilarious if you are under the age of five. Seeing them make each other laugh is one of the great joys of my life. And when we announced to them that we’d be moving Anders in to share Isaac’s room, their reaction was priceless: they gasped, hugged each other, and then Isaac said, “Let’s sing Happy Birthday because we’re so excited!” Then they ran circles in the living room singing Happy Birthday at the top of their lungs.

I hope and assume that in a couple of years I will be glad our kids are so close together in age. Last weekend on the L (we live in Chicago), I got chatting with a lady whose kids were about 9 and 11. Her younger son went to sit in the last open seat but stopped himself. He looked up at his mom and said, “Do you mind?” She said, “No, go ahead,” but then he insisted that she take the seat! I said, “What polite boys you have!” She looked at mine and asked how far apart they were.  When I told her, she said that was exactly the same as her boys. She said, “I know it’s crazy now, but when they’re their age, you’ll be glad.” Then her kids gave each other a high five. It was so cute and gave me such hope!

So today I will just try to keep them out of arm’s reach of each other while clinging to the hope that someday they’ll be inseparable.

3 thoughts on “KATE, STEP UP TO THE MIC

  1. My sister and I are 18 months apart and are the best of friends. As young children, we had our squabbles. My sons are 4 years apart and they had their share of fighting, too. It doesn’t matter how far apart they are in age. I feel it’s just sibling rivalry. Time passes so very quickly and one day you will be wishing they were running around the room singing or fighting for that matter. So keep looking into the positive, it is always there. Your boys are adorable!

  2. Hi kate- great guest post. I love reading your blog and love this little sibling discourse, as well. I had Phin and Chloe 19 months apart…based on the advice of others telling me to get all the craziness over with in one shot. But I agree, at the moment I’d go back and wait another year. 2 1/2 years separate my 1st and 2nd and even though Phin was a nightmare of a baby sleepwise, having a 2 1/2 year old who was already talking and potty trained was much easier. I have never been so tired as I am right now with a 1 and 2 year old and all their suicide missions. I am sure they will end up to be good friends and perhaps I will look back and be glad they are so close in age…it’s just right now I sometimes wonder if I’ll even survive that long;)

  3. I loved, loved, loved this post. Having known Kate since childhood, it has been an honor to see her parent from the sidelines. She has given me strength and motivation on multiple occasions with my own two tornados, errr cherubs and I cherish the honesty in her advice. I am truly grateful for her perspective on parenting and life! 🙂

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