I have two kids. My son is nineteen and my daughter is eight. Yes, you counted right, that’s an eleven year gap. No, it was not a happy mistake. Early in our marriage my husband and I made a decision not to have any more kids. But life changes and feelings change and we both knew our family wasn’t quite complete yet.
More often than not when I tell people about the age difference they say, “Wow, really? That’s quite a gap. Is it difficult?”
It actually hasn’t been all that difficult. My son was pretty close to being self sufficient by the time my daughter was born. Well, as self sufficient as an eleven year old can be. The first couple of years were a bit challenging but once he was in high school things got easier. The hardest single thing has been planning vacations. How many things do teenagers and toddlers both want to do? Not very many.
But for me, the most problematic thing is that it creates a bit of a time warp.
The friends I made when my son was little are still very much in my life. Over the years we’ve been through so many things with our now young adults. Without activities to bring us together our connections are now more about us, than our kids. Many of these friends are now starting to think about retiring. Not next year, but maybe in the next five or ten years?
Their kids are in university or working and some are already empty nesters if their kids have chosen to go to school back east or in the US. No more early morning soccer practices, no need for babysitters, no late night pick ups from parties. They have more free time and less day to day responsibility. They can travel or even take up a hobby. They have moved into the next stage or their lives and it’s pretty sweet.
My daughter is eight and the friends that I have made in these past few years are who I spend most of my time with. Hanging out at the dance studio (for hours), commiserating over school yard politics at the park or escaping to the pub occasionally after bed time.
These friends are still in the small children stage of life and considerable work is still involved on a daily basis. Some are new home owners or starting new businesses with their future stretching out ahead of them. Job opportunities and career changes are still top of mind options. The concept of retiring is a distant goal. Most are still planning their fortieth birthdays. (My fortieth was…..a while ago).
The fact is I feel a bit torn? No, that’s not right. I think confused would be a better word for it. In some ways it is contributing to my ambiguity on Finding my Thing.
Half of me feels should I SHOULD be getting ready for the next next chapter of my life. Investing, getting my shit together. You know, getting organized for getting older. And enjoying the fruit of many years of parental labour. The other half of me feels like I’m still a Spring chicken whose got loads of time to do anything BUT worry about RRSPs.
To be honest, I’m not sure what The Best Thing in Life is about this conundrum. Maybe it’s simply the fact that I got to use the word conundrum.