I think every one of us has an inner green-eyed monster. Or in other words, we’re all capable of feeling jealousy. Some people are just much better at controlling and suppressing it than others. For the most part, I think that fare pretty well at not being a jealous person. By definition, it’s a negative and destructive emotion from which nothing much good can come. A desire to achieve what someone else has can motivate you to do what you need to get it, but succumbing instead to jealousy will only lead to resentment and ill feeling for all involved.
There is just one particular thing at the moment, however, that is successfully stirring my inner green-eye from its long slumber. If you’ve read some of my posts recently you might be able to hazard a guess that it has to do with pregnancy and babies.
It’s not as simple, however, as being jealous of every pregnant woman that I see. Whilst I do understand that anyone who has struggled to conceive must see bumps and babies as a constant reminder of what they do not have, and an emotional response to that is to be expected, I’ve always tried hard to remember that I have no clue about what lies behind those pregnancies. I don’t know the stories of random women I see in the street, what struggles and challenges they have faced or how long they have had to wait to get where they are. And the fact that they are pregnant has absolutely no bearing on the fact that I am not. It is not as though they have somehow taken it away from me. It’s not as though names were drawn out of a hat and I missed out on the prize because I was in the loo touching up my lipstick. Another person not being pregnant would not magically mean that I would be, and with all that it mind it seems ridiculous to begrudge another woman something which I want so badly and therefore know just how much joy it carries.
The jealousy I feel at the moment is a bit more subtle. I’m jealous each time I see a mother with two children with a small age gap, especially any gap smaller than I would currently have if I were to conceive a second child. This extends to feeling completely fine and happy if someone whose child was born two months before Thomas conceives, but irrationally jealous if it is someone whose child is two months younger. And more ridiculous still, whilst I might be happy for someone whose child is one month older than Thomas and has just conceived, if I fail to fall pregnant again next month – which will lead to a bigger age gap than they will have – that will suddenly alter how I feel about their pregnancy.
I know it is ridiculous. Crazy. Irrational. Mad. And as above, someone else not having a small age gap would not mean that I would end up with the age gap that I want. It is unfair to begrudge someone else the very thing that I want when I can easily imagine the happiness it will bring, but I just can’t stop myself.
I don’t even know where this fixation about age gaps started from. I am the younger in a 21 month sibling gap myself, and my husband is the older in an 18 month gap. I have heard that it’s natural to want to recreate the gap you had yourself, particularly if you had a happy childhood, so perhaps that is a part of it. I know that there are no guarantees at all how a sibling relationship will develop, and it depends on the individual children. Close age gaps don’t guarantee friends for life, or that they will have anything in common or enjoy spending time together. But I do think there is a greater chance of family harmony when children are likely to be enjoying the same types of toys, games, activities and holidays, and when the dinner table conversation can easily be inclusive of all. More selfishly, not prolonging the gap means getting through the potentially difficult sleep period again sooner, before I’ve completely erased it from my memory and have to start from scratch!
If I’m completely honest, there is also a part of me that perceives a close age gap to be hard work and I admire mothers who manage two close in age. Being a classic over achiever, and never having done anything in my life the easy way, is also perhaps a motivator for a smaller age gap. Just typing that I’m aware of how silly it sounds, and doesn’t for a second mean I think any less of women with bigger age gaps, or would be any less satisfied with our eventual family if the gap is much bigger.
I want a second child to complete our family. I’d like Thomas to have a sibling who will hopefully be there for him (and he for them) throughout his life. Two is the number of children that feels “right” for us, and how we have always imagined our family. Those are our most important motivators. Whenever another child becomes part of our family, I will, I’m sure, love them as endlessly as I love Thomas. But if I had a choice, the gap would be small, and I just can’t help but envy those who have this thing that I have very little control over trying to achieve for myself.