A large age gap between my children was not exactly planned but hey, no sweat. A baby, a seven year old and a ten year old? Roll those sleeves up and hand me a baby wipe. And I'm in good company too, judging by this list of celebs. The Beckhams had Harper when their youngest son was six, and Jamie Oliver's adorable new baby has just arrived after countless nappy-free years. I feel I must break it to them however, that although this Gap Baby brings untold joy, the stork also delivers a few surprises.
It's not like riding a bicycle.
It's one thing to "still have the touch" with someone else's newborn, but quite another when you can't return it. You forget so easily that you never get a break, they wake up in the night, they cry for no apparent reason, they appear to be on a great nap schedule, then WHAM, they change it. Others might think you're laid back and just going with the flow, but if truth be told, you've forgotten how to snap the car seat in, when to introduce solid food, what's poisonous, and later, how much they climb and when they should be walking and talking.
You break all your old rules.
When you have older kids to schlep from A to B, the baby's naps take a dive. Your mantra, "They just have to fit in", translates to them sleeping in the car, in the pushchair, and occasionally on the sidelines of the under 12's football practice. Even worse by your old standards, you often wake them to pick up an older sib. (Oh the guilt.) The Gap Baby stays up later than the others ever did just because it's easier to do one bed time for all. (Or in my case, because I forgot the little one was still up). My finest moment involved placing my three year old on a pile of coats, on the floor, in the corner of a bar, at a New Year's shin-dig (family friendly, I might add). For safety, we stationed a ring of bar stools around him, facing inwards, so that no one would fall on him. He slept like a baby!
You do anything for a quiet life.
Gap babies learn quickly, that the way to get stuff is to whine, cry or shriek. Parents and older sibs run from other rooms to stem the flow of righteous indignation or whatever emotion is belting out at full volume. My doctor told me that my third was slower to talk because we were all just interpreting what he wanted instead of making him enunciate. A friend's third (with 11 and 9 year age gap) wouldn't walk on grass, (yes!) so they all carried her over the back lawn! I mean, literally, anything for a quiet life.
"The baby" becomes the class clown.
As well as the power of the full throttle wail, Gap Babies know that the easiest way to get in with their siblings is to make them laugh. I mean, as long as you're not cleaning it up, there's nothing funnier than a toddler with dinner all over his head, or worse. (Don't worry, I'm not going down the "poo" avenue, just consider yourselves warned). Fast forward a few years and reports start mentioning the "need for focus", and "learning when it's time to put our sensible hat on".
You're told the Gap Baby will "keep you young".
Wrong. For starters, some of Gap Baby's friends will be the eldest child in their family, making you at least a hundred years older than their parents. This is guaranteed to make you feel ancient, even if you don't look too bad "for your age". Then there's the fact that in between racing around after your small child, you're probably helping with homework you can no longer do and possibly even dealing with teenagers. Oh yes, that's a guaranteed elixir - teenagers and toddlers both in meltdown mode.
Yup, the Gap Baby definitely rules.