Playtime Evolving

This past weekend, something amazing happened.

an abstract watercolor illustration cardboard box filled with imagination
Image created via Midjourney

We had planned for Theo and Quentin to be about two-and-a-half years apart, and it happened that way.  We had a toddler that could walk, talk, and eventually was potty trained, limiting the overlap in two kids in diapers.  Outings eventually became a breeze with a double stroller.  They shared a room and played well together.

When I became pregnant with Nelle, the gap was going to be a little wider, with more than three-and-a-half years between her and Quentin.  But the two older kids together were easy to manage and I could picture them all in grade school together as she got bigger.

After Nelle died and I became pregnant again with Iris right away, I didn't think much about how the gap between my children had grown.  That was the least of my concerns: all I wanted was to bring home a baby.  And then Iris died.  And then the maternal fetal medicine doctor told us that we needed to wait at least six months before trying for another pregnancy.

I had a lot of time to think during those six months, and it was during that time when I began to think about how much larger the gap between my children was going to be.  Each month that passed felt like I was moving further and further from what I thought my family would look like, if we would even get there.

We finally did arrive, with Autumn born in August of 2017.  Nearly an 8-year gap between her and Theo, and a five-and-a-half year gap between her and Quentin.

I couldn't help but feel a twinge on many occasions.  We had to bow out of attending evening events as a family, knowing that Autumn could not tolerate a later bedtime.  We had to adhere to naptime, making the days less flexible as well.  The older kids had vastly different interests than a baby and as their toys increase in tiny pieces, I worry about choke hazards.  Our family vacations revolved around feedings and what was stroller-friendly.  Nearly 18 months younger than the age of child we thought we were going to have, the gap was felt in so many ways.

And yet... this past weekend, something amazing happened.  A treadmill delivery resulted in an enormous box coming into the house.  The big kids immediately claimed it, turning it into a "boat" in the living room.  Autumn climbed into the box as well, using her crayons to color on the cardboard.  Quentin initially complained loudly that she was "ruining" the box, but I told him he had to share - the box was for everyone.

The hours of the weekend flew by with all three of them in the box.  They cut windows into the sides.  They turned the box over and it became a fort.  Autumn babbled loudly the entire time, completely unaware that her words could not be understood by her brothers.  She also seemed to be unaware that she was smaller, younger.  The older kids included her in their games - not once saying that she was too little to play, or getting in the way.  It made my heart melt to watch the three of them play together.