When I found out that I was unexpectedly pregnant with my second child, and when my son was only seven months old, I was warned of the "impending doom" that would be having two children under the age of two. People legitimately terrified me with their tales of simultaneous tantrums and mountains of dirty diapers. Now that my oldest is about to be three, I've adjusted to having kids close in age, but for some reason, the people around me haven't. Maybe they don't realize the ways they're angering moms with two kids under two, but I'm here to tell you that what some assume is a horrific "side show" is my actual life, and if I can handle it, people should be able to handle being a bystander.
Having two children under the age of two is a struggle at times, sure, but doesn't every parent struggle at some point (or many points)? Answer: of course. We all feel like waving the white flag and succumbing to toddler tantrums at some point during our ventures as a mother. I have days when I don't want to be a parent anymore, sure, but that's not because of the minimal age gap in between my children. It's just because being a parent can be extremely difficult and exhaustion takes it toll and, you know, I'm human.
What I've yet to understand, though, is the reason why most react to the 15-month age difference between my children with dropped jaws, wide eyes, and prayer offerings. I'm fine, you guys. Seriously. If you're really concerned about a mother with kids close in age, offer your support, not your condolences. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, please don't do or say any of the following things because, trust me, they're definitely pissing off moms with two kids under the age of two.
Pointing Out How Tired They Must Be
Pretty much every parent I've ever come in contact with is exhausted. It doesn't matter whether their kids are 17 or seven months, they're all tired. Of course, I'm a card carrying member of the exhausted moms club, and I admittedly survive on a steady stream of coffee and Red Bull, but that's not necessarily because my kids are close in age.
It's not that people assuming that I must be tired angers me, it's why people assume that I'm tired that gets under my skin. When people point out the obvious lack of sleep in my life and blame my kids' age gap for it, it makes me feel like they're saying that I'm in over my head, like maybe I'm not cut out for this whole mom thing, which is obviously not something a mom ever wants to feel.
Assuming The Age Difference Was An Accident
Though my partner and I weren't technically planning on getting pregnant, we had options when we found out that we were unexpectedly expecting. We chose to see the pregnancy through and to give our first son a little brother, so no, our second son wasn't an accident.
People might not always get pregnant on purpose, but they always give birth on purpose, even if they don't feel fully prepared to do so. Our second son is a fire cracker, and I'm partially convinced that it's because he heard people questioning his conception while in utero.
Telling Them They Have Their Hands Are Full
My hands are full? Really? Hmm, I hadn't noticed. Of course my hands are full. Every parent's hands are full, and not just parents either. Doctors' hands are full and teachers' hands are full and President Obama's hands are full and my neighbor who doesn't want to make two trips to her car to unload her groceries has her hands full, too.
My hands might be full, but so is my heart. I love watching my boys play and grow together. It's difficult at times, obviously, but I'm more than capable of handling it.
This comment doesn't necessarily anger me as much as it annoys me, and I feel like saying, "Thank you, Captain Obvious" every time I hear it, which is a lot.
Saying "Oh, You Were Busy, Weren't You?"
First of all, don't insinuate things about my sex life. And second, eww. Obviously, the very small age gap in between my children indicates that my partner and I had sex at some point, but making it seem like our entire lives were consumed by sex is not only inappropriate and completely creepy, it's just none of your damn business.
Making Them Feel Guilty For Not Spacing Their Children Out More
I remember someone saying to me that my youngest wouldn't be celebrated like my oldest, or that my oldest would miss out on that one-on-one time with myself and my partner, and it always made me feel terribly guilty. Actually, I felt plenty of guilt without the intrusive comments.
When I found out I was pregnant with our second, I cried for weeks. I felt like my oldest was somehow getting a raw deal for having to share his parents so soon into his life. He was going to have to share our attention and our affection and our support, and I didn't feel like it was fair for him. Then, when I really thought about it, I realized not only would he be sharing our attention, but he would be sharing a lot of amazing things with his brother, too. I never had a sibling, but I always wanted one. My boys are thick as thieves, and they adore each other, so thankfully, my guilt is gone; that is, until someone says something stupid again.
Giving Them Side Stares While Out In Public When One Is Acting Out
A few weeks ago, I took my boys to Target with me. I have combated more than my fair share of public tantrums, so I'm vigilant in my pre-outing preparations. We were in the checkout line when my youngest started to get antsy. My oldest followed suit, and started acting out himself. They weren't being outrageous at all, and I was handling them just fine, but the woman in line behind me made her annoyance rather obvious. Her loud sighs and eye rolls made it seem like my kids were doing the Macarena on top of the register, and I could tell that she thought I was incapable of containing my children. Truthfully though, they didn't need to be contained, and their behavior definitely didn't merit her reaction.
Acting Like Their Presence Is Somehow Inconvenient For You
I do my best to make sure that I never inconvenience anyone in any way but, admittedly, I don't always succeed. Life happens, and so do tantrums. When my kids do get ornery in public, I do my best to deescalate the situation. I don't think any mother enjoys having to calm her kids down when they're making a scene, and I'm pretty sure we all do our best to make sure that our kids don't intrude on someone else's day, but sometimes, we fail. It happens, and acting like two little kids arguing in the middle of the juice aisle is the end of your world speaks more to your character, than theirs.
Just Making Their Life Out To Be Some Sort Of Circus In General
People say all the time that my life must be so chaotic and crazy and, in a way, they're right, but that's not because my kids are close in age. It's for a lot of reasons other than having two kids under the age of two. I'm more than capable of handling them and their needs, and our lives together don't actually resemble the circus some people like to make having two under two out to be.
When people act like I'm in over my head or like my partner and I are addicted to sex or kids or some make believe suburban dream of having our own child army, it's rather annoying and completely inaccurate. We're busy, yes, but our life is not a circus, and it's *mostly* under control.
So, Actually, I Love Having Kids Close In Age
Having kids close in age is not the nightmare that some people like to make it out to be. When I was pregnant with our second, I unfortunately spent more time worrying about my family's fate as a side show or a circus act, instead of actually enjoying my pregnancy. People warned me of what was to come instead of congratulating me, and now that I've made it through almost two years with both of my boys, only to realize that their warnings weren't necessary.
There are crazy days, sure, but that's true for every parent. I feel like the good by far outweighs the bad when it comes to having kids close in age, and I'm actually very thankful that my boys are so close in age. Not only is their age close, but they are close, too. They love each other, and knowing that they'll have each other to lean on throughout their lives makes every temporary struggle more than worth it.