It happens on a daily, no more like hourly, basis. My two kids love each other one minute, laughing, hugging, singing, calling to one another to come and play and then, the next minute, they are hitting each other, screaming for me, and crying. It’s exhausting. But not only that, it’s super confusing. Is this a time when they love each other? Or is it just a short step to go in the wrong direction to HateTown?
My kids are 22 months apart. Yep. #2 was not planned, but we definitely were happy we didn’t have trouble conceiving #2 as we did with #1. It just happened a tidbit earlier than we expected. I remember sitting at a pool with my eldest, who was one and half, splashing around in the fountain, and talking with a woman who had two kids. Her kids were happily playing, running around. They looked close in age, so I asked her how she did it. How did she remain looking somewhat sane while her two kids were running around playing, especially because they were so close in age? When I got the odd, “why are you talking to me look?”, I explained that I was pregnant with my second (I wasn’t showing yet) and they would be 22 months apart. She smiled knowingly. “I don’t know anything else. My two are 23 months apart.” She then patted her belly. “And number three will only be 18 months apart from the second.” I tried not to react, but my eyes must’ve been huge as I tried to smile back. Holy shit, was this lady nuts?!? Did she have a death wish? I had a thousand questions I wanted to ask. But to be honest, the most important was how did she deal when they didn’t get along? And when you add a third into the mix, doesn’t that make for more trouble?
I come from a family of three siblings. My sisters are twins, four years older than me. When we were younger, I was tortured. I mean, like only big sisters can. Seriously. I don’t know how I turned out normal. I guess I didn’t realize how bad it was until years later, when I mentioned just some of the things my sisters did to me (like not letting me play Little Orphan Annie unless I was dubbed “Pantyhose” instead of another girl who was actually in the movie or “locking” me out of their shared room simply by putting toilet paper into the missing door handle, like THAT would keep me out), and the people I was telling were shocked. Like, mouths dropped shocked. But now, as we are in our 30s, and honestly as soon as they went to college, we got along so well. We really grew up, in every sense of the phrase. We shared secrets, listened to sob stories about boys, and I covered for them when they needed to keep something from people (like our parents). I know we had some fun times when we were younger. We’d create games and play in the backyard, go bike riding, play Barbies, swim in the pool together, among other things. And then just as suddenly as we’d be getting along, they’d team up on me, lock me out and I’d be on my own again. I guess I thought I’d avoid that with my two somehow. Ha. Fat chance.
They have their own games they play. They build towers, put together a house, pretend they are moms and dads, read books together. My husband and I can hear them in the playroom (there is no line of sight from the couch to the playroom), playing happily and we sometimes peek over the top of the couch to see what they are doing. It’s some sort of super cute picture-perfect, almost not true visual of happy sibling time. We’ll sometimes comment to each other or point and smile, but we’re usually afraid to because we don’t want to jinx what they are doing. Ultimately, it happens anyway, and their happy playing dissolves into crying, pulling of hair or biting, and one kid (or both) going to their separate corners or rooms for time out. Sigh, there goes that.
I know that things will morph and change for the rest of their lives together, as it did with my sisters. Just as quickly as they are playing happily and hugging each other saying, “Aw mom, look how cute!”, they will hate, jump on the other’s head and end up screaming, “MOMMY! Look what they did to me!” And again, I’ll separate them, either yelling along with them or sighing uncontrollably or even just ignoring it altogether (well, you shouldn’t have gotten in their face in the first place and then they wouldn’t have hit you), and move on and wait until the next lovefest. Which I know is coming. And going.