This is me and my siblings a few Christmases ago (I’m the pregnant one in the middle eating an ice lolly). My brother and sister are not pregnant and are on either side of me. I’m the “problem middle child” – my big brother is six years older than me, while my baby sister is five year younger. The big age gaps are what people always ask me about, but I’ve never really thought it was unusual – it was just how it always was.
I’m lucky in that my siblings are genuinely awesome people. Even if they weren’t related to me, I’d really want them to be my friends and I know that isn’t the case with a lot of families. We’re similar in a lot of ways. We all have lots of big teeth and small mouths (which has required many trips to the orthodontist). We’re softly spoken and not big fans of confrontation. We make appear shy on first meeting us but once we know you (and like you), we’re actually pretty fun to be around. We value the same things. We all like food (a lot). And we’re not afraid of a bit of hard work.
But I guess we’re different too and that’s what makes it interesting. I remember how I used to sing loudly in public as a kid and my sister used to hate it. And they all call me Bossy Belinda because well, I like telling people what to do. And my brother is the MOST INCREDIBLE cook while my sister on the other hand is MUCH better at driving than me. In fact, I remember my father asking her to drive one day while the family was out and about and I was like, “Dad! I’m the oldest and supposed to be more responsible and Megan’s only just got her licence, don’t you want me to drive?” *awkward silence*
I’ve been thinking about us three siblings lately because now that I’ve got two kids, I’m starting to compare them. Shock, horror, because as mothers we’re not supposed to notice their differences or compare them to each other AT ALL. Well, that’s just silly. You’ve got nothing else to compare the second one to except the first, so it’s only natural to do so. Of course, I’ll never try to favour one over the other, it’s more about marvelling at their differences and celebrating them and laughing at them, because after all, you can never take this whole parenting thing too seriously.
Here’s how they’re different:
- Weight: Ben was heavier at birth by 300g, but that’s pretty normal because he’s a boy.
- Sleeping: Rachel slept through from 5 months but her brother only decided to do that at 10 months (yawn). Was I stricter with my daughter and softer on my son?
- Crawling: Rachel got on the move at 7 months, Ben took his time at 10 and a half months!
- Walking: Rachel first took some steps at 9 months and was walking at 10 and a half months. Since he’s only just started crawling, I’m pretty sure Ben will only walk at about 14 or 15 months.
- Nature: Rachel loved strangers and was comfortable with everyone. Ben is shyer and prefers his Mom.
- Danger: Ben is obsessed with anything with wheels on it, as well as electrical plug points and anything dangerous to his health. I used to be one of those smug mothers of girls (yes it is a thing) who thought everyone elses babies were really badly behaved and loud. Then I had a son.
- Toilet behaviour: Girls poo neatly and thoughtfully, only once a day. Ben poos messily and frequently, sometimes up to 5 times a day. I won’t make a joke about how men are full of shit right from the beginning, because well, that’s too obvious.
The girl/boy differences are perhaps generalisations, but it is known that boys tend to develop slower than girls. The rest of the differences may just be character based, rather than gender based. Whatever their differences, I really hope they share enough to keep them friends as they grow older, because the value of shared blood and shared history and context is so powerful and valuable – and something everyone deserves to have.
Photo by Camilla Blomfield